Good news, ladies: A few months back, we reported that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) intended to make a change in the huge bias toward male participants in clinical trials by encouraging researchers to start using female tissues, cells, and lab animals in their experiments. (It was feared for decades that hormonal fluctuations could skew results.) Now, we’ve seen this plan come to fruition: The NIH has invested $10.1 million in supplemental funding to help scientists bolster their existing research projects and explore the effects of sex on everything from cardiovascular physiology to behavioral health.
“This investment encourages researchers to study females and males, and is a catalyst for considering sex as a fundamental variable in research. The current overreliance on male subjects in preclinical research can obscure key findings related to sex that could guide later human studies,” the press release explains.
These 'key findings' currently obscured by the lack of female participants? Everything from the way basic sex differences can cause drastically different responses to prescription drugs, to how diseases impact men and women differently. “This funding strategy demonstrates our commitment to moving the needle toward better health for all Americans,” said Janine Austin Clayton, M.D., NIH associate director for women’s health research. Now this is some research we can get behind.