U.S. agency moves to end sex bias in
Send a link to a friend
[September 23, 2014]
By Will Dunham
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. National
Institutes of Health began putting in place on Tuesday its new policy
aimed at ending long-standing sex bias in biomedical research favoring
male lab animals and cells in the pivotal studies that are done before
human clinical trials.
The NIH, the U.S. government's medical research agency, said it had
approved about $10 million in funds to supplement grants already
given to 82 recipients from various universities and hospitals to
expand studies to better explore possible sex differences in
numerous types of medical conditions.
Research has shown that men and women sometimes experience diseases
differently and respond to treatments differently. Before new
medicines or treatments can be tried on people in clinical trials,
they are tested on animals or cells in a lab in so-called
An over-reliance on male lab animals like mice and rats and male
cells in lab dishes in such research has obscured important sex
differences that could guide future studies involving human
subjects, leading to flawed findings, according to the NIH.
"We think it's an important change and a meaningful change," Dr.
Janine Clayton, director of the NIH Office of Research on Women's
Health, said of the new policy.
"It is designed to be a catalyst for considering sex as a
fundamental variable in research," Clayton added. "We're asking one
simple question: What effect does sex have in the context of your
The researchers who received the supplemental grant money are
working on studies involving human and non-human subjects looking at
matters including immunology, cardiovascular physiology, neural
circuitry and behavioral health, the NIH said.
[to top of second column]
Under the new policy, first announced in May, researchers seeking
NIH grants will have to report their plans for balancing male and
female cells and animals in preclinical studies, with only
"rigorously defined exceptions."
The U.S. Congress two decades ago required the NIH to include women
in research it funded that involved human subjects. Before that,
some clinical trials simply excluded women, leading to findings that
failed to account for important sex differences.
(Reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by Peter Cooney)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.