The first-ever initiative intends to increase woman-focused scientific research and identify strategies to improve women's health outcomes.
Women are twice as likely to experience an anxiety disorder or depression than men, and nearly 80% of people diagnosed with an autoimmune disease such as Sjogren's syndrome or lupus are female. Moreover, women may experience heart attack symptoms differently than men, which can delay appropriate treatment in the emergency room.
Reports also suggest females feel healthcare providers often ignore or dismiss their symptoms and may not take their complaints seriously.
Despite these differences, woman-focused health research is lacking, and females are underrepresented in scientific studies. For example, in 2020, only 10.8% of the NIH's budget was earmarked for women's health research.
However, on November 13, President Biden announced a first-of-its-kind initiative to help bridge this research gap and address women's health disparities.
The White House Initiative on Women's Health Research will be led by First Lady Jill Biden and chaired by Carolyn Mazure, Ph.D., a leader in women's health research. Mazure will coordinate the Initiative for the Office of the First Lady and the Gender Policy Council.
The Initiative aims to close the gap by investing in research that maximizes the ability to prevent, diagnose, and treat health conditions in women across the nation.
Specifically, the Initiative will bring together research institutions, scientists in the private sector, and federal agencies to develop and recommend actions that the Biden-Harris Administration can take to improve the health of women and tackle health inequities. It will also identify which health issues impact women the most and invest in research addressing those areas.
Additionally, the Initiative's goals include evaluating opportunities to recruit, train, and support women pursuing health and biomedical research careers and identifying strategies to increase public awareness of the research gap.
Initiative members will begin making recommendations to the Biden Administration within 45 days.
In a White House statement, First Lady Jill Biden said, "Every woman I know has a story about leaving her doctor's office with more questions than answers. Not because our doctors are withholding information, but because there's just not enough research yet on how to best manage and treat even common women's health conditions. In 2023, that is unacceptable."