Experts from across the country gathered last year at BWH to discuss the issue of gender inequity in biomedical research and the status of women’s health research. And the discussions and ideas stemming from that meeting did not end when it drew to a close. Instead, the summit and its resulting report and Call to Action set progress in motion on several fronts.
Following the summit, several members of Congress, including those who had participated in the summit, requested that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) look into the status of the 1993 NIH Revitalization Act, which mandated the inclusion of women and minorities in biomedical research. The GAO issued its report on the matter, titled, Better Oversight Needed to Help Ensure Continued Progress Including Women in Health Research, in October.
Later that month, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, the keynote speaker at the Connors Center’s summit, and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand introduced the Cody Miller Patient Medication Information Act, which would require the information that is given to patients when they pick up their prescriptions to be standardized and consumer-friendly. This would enable patients to be better informed about how to use their drugs and about potential adverse side effects. The bill would also require that patients, including women and racial and ethnic minorities, have information on whether or not the drugs they are taking have been adequately tested on these groups, key recommendations from the Call to Action.
In addition, at the first National Policy & Science Summit on Women’s Cardiovascular Health, hosted by WomenHeart, major policy and program recommendations were announced to improve diagnosis and treatment of heart disease in women. Paula Johnson, MD, MPH who leads the Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology, was a keynote speaker at the event and joined more than 130 experts in making priority recommendations for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease in women.
“We have the ability to bend the curve to improve the heart health of U.S. women, but only if we enact policies that make sex- and gender-specific research central in all research aimed at diagnosing, treating and preventing cardiovascular disease,” said Johnson.