Don’t Leave Women’s Health to Chance

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital April 30, 2015

Dr. Paula Johnson

The author of today’s post is Paula A. Johnson, MD, MPH, Executive Director of the Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Did you know that, 20 years ago, women and minorities were not routinely included in federally funded clinical trials? That changed in 1993 when President Bill Clinton signed into law the historic NIH Revitalization Act, making inclusion of women in health research a national priority.

Today, we know that women are different from men down to the cellular and molecular level. We see these differences across all organ systems — from our hearts to our joints, lungs, and brains. The Mary Horrigan Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital is dedicated to exploring and discovering why these differences occur, and translating those differences into clinical care. However, roadblocks remain in research and clinical care. Here are just a few examples:

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Women’s Health Summit: Making Change Happen

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital March 20, 2014

CBS News Correspondent Lesley Stahl (left) speaks to U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg about gender inequities in medical research.

On March 3, in a filled ballroom at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Boston, Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) Women’s Health leaders, state and national representatives, and distinguished guests came together to discuss an urgent problem in biomedical science.

“We must face the hard truth: research in women’s health and gender differences lags far behind the research in men’s health care,” said U.S. Senator (MA) Elizabeth Warren, who provided keynote remarks. “And too often the policy conversation around women’s health lags as well. This must be addressed.”

Although 20 years have passed since the National Institutes of Health’s Revitalization Act became federal law – requiring the inclusion of women and minorities in clinical research studies and the analysis of results by sex – a major gender gap still exists in medical research.

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Gender in Medicine: Getting Both Sides of the Story

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital February 25, 2014

The National Institute of Medicine says that “every cell has a sex.” This means that men and women are different, at least physiologically, all the way down to the molecular and cellular levels. But, according to Dr. Paula Johnson, Executive Director of the Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, these biologic differences are often ignored when designing medical studies, and even when valuable gender-specific findings are in our hands, we often fail to apply the knowledge. Although Dr. Johnson suggests that women’s health has suffered most from these failures, she stresses that placing greater emphasis on sex- and gender-based research and care will help reap benefits for both women’s and men’s health. Watch the following video to learn more.

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