Study suggests improved compliance with the NIH sex as a biological variable policy


Credit: Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers

New Rochelle, NY, December 12, 2018–In 2016, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) implemented a policy which requires grant applicants to “consider sex as a biological variable (SABV)” in vertebrate animal and human studies. A new study surveyed NIH study section members in 2016 and 2017 regarding their attitudes toward the policy and found that a majority of respondents thought that it was important to consider SABV in the experimental design and that considering SABV would improve the rigor and reproducibility of NIH-funded preclinical research. The assessment of attitudes toward the policy and perceptions regarding its implementation are described in an article published in Journal of Women’s Health, a peer-reviewed publication from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. Click here to read the article free on the Journal of Women’s Health website until January 12, 2019.

The article, “Implementation of the NIH Sex-Inclusion Policy: Attitudes and Opinions of Study Section Members,” is coauthored by Nicole C. Woitowich, PhD and Teresa K. Woodruff, PhD, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois. Study section members indicated that, from 2016 to 2017, there was a significant increase in the proportion of grants that considered SABV in the research strategy and applicants who adequately addressed the incorporation of SABV into the experimental design, analysis, and reporting. In addition, a significant increase was noted in the proportion of grant proposals that provided consistent justification to study a single sex.

In an upcoming editorial, entitled “Studying Sex as a Biological Variable: Is a New Day Dawning?” Irving Zucker, PhD, University of California, Berkeley and Annaliese Beery, PhD, Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts, state that the study findings provide the “first indication that change may be forthcoming” with respect to the inclusion of females in research studies. According to Dr. Zucker and Dr. Beery, the increase seen in the proportion of proposals that considered SABV in the research strategy and addressed it in the experimental design “will require monitoring in subsequent years to determine if the trend is sustained, and how it will translate into publication of research findings.”


About the Journal

Journal of Women’s Health, published monthly, is a core multidisciplinary journal dedicated to the diseases and conditions that hold greater risk for or are more prevalent among women, as well as diseases that present differently in women. Led by Editor-in-Chief Susan G. Kornstein, MD, Executive Director of the Virginia Commonwealth University Institute for Women’s Health, Richmond, VA, and President of the Academy of Women’s Health, the Journal covers the latest advances and clinical applications of new diagnostic procedures and therapeutic protocols for the prevention and management of women’s healthcare issues. Complete tables of content and a sample issue may be viewed on the Journal of Women’s Health website. Journal of Women’s Health is the official journal of the Academy of Women’s Health and the Society for Women’s Health Research.

About the Academy

Academy of Women’s Health is an interdisciplinary, international association of physicians, nurses, and other health professionals who work across the broad field of women’s health, providing its members with up-to-date advances and options in clinical care that will enable the best outcomes for their women patients. The Academy’s focus includes the dissemination of translational research and evidence-based practices for disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of women across the lifespan.

About the Publisher

Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers is a privately held, fully integrated media company known for establishing authoritative peer-reviewed journals in many promising areas of science and biomedical research, including LGBT Health, Transgender Health, Population Health Management, and Breastfeeding Medicine. Its biotechnology trade magazine, GEN (Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News), was the first in its field and is today the industry’s most widely read publication worldwide. A complete list of the firm’s 80 journals, books, and newsmagazines is available on the Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers website.

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