5th Annual Vivian Pinn Symposium: Integrating Sex and Gender Into Biomedical Research as a Path for Better Science and Innovation

5th Annual Vivian Pinn Symposium: Integrating Sex and Gender Into Biomedical Research as a Path for Better Science and Innovation

Vivian Pinn, MD and ORWH Director Janine Clayton, MD attend the 4th Annual Vivian Pinn Symposium
Vivian Pinn, MD and ORWH Director Janine Clayton, MD attend the 4th Annual Vivian Pinn Symposium

The Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) annually convenes the Vivian Pinn Symposium (VPS), its signature event, which honors the first full-time director of the office, Dr. Vivian Pinn, in recognition of National Women’s Health Week. The event is held publicly to communicate broadly about sex and gender influences on health and diseases, to disseminate research on the health of women, and to highlight pressing issues in women’s health. The topic for the 2021 Symposium is “Integrating Sex and Gender into Biomedical Research as a Path for Better Science and Innovation.”

Historically, biomedical research has focused on the study of men with predominantly male clinical trial participants and preclinical animal subjects. This has contributed to the generation of study findings that are not necessarily generalizable to women and an incomplete scientific knowledge base. In addition, many opportunities to maximize returns on investments in biomedical research are missed, limiting innovation and compromising assurance of broad benefit. Consequently, in 2016, the NIH launched a new policy requiring researchers to account for Sex As a Biological Variable (SABV) in study designs, analyses, and reporting of vertebrate animal and human studies.

Sex- and gender-aware research is critical to the conduct of rigorous, replicable, and transparent science; to research integrity; to maximizing returns on investment in research; and to advancing women’s health and personalized medicine and care. Despite progress in advancing the concept of SABV, the consideration of sex and gender influences on health is inconsistently applied in the scientific community. Biomedical research achieves its greatest potential when sex and gender considerations are integrated throughout the enterprise in an end-to-end manner, from laboratory and preclinical investigations, through translational studies and clinical care leading to better science and innovation. Optimal integration via engagement across the biomedical ecosystem spanning researchers, public and private funders, businesses, pharma, institutions, publishers, scientific societies, policymakers, and the public has the power to catalyze innovation and drive progress toward a healthier future for everyone.