The Women's Health Research Institute is exploring and implementing new ways to enhance training at all levels - students, residents and fellow - to ensure that they have a working knowledge of the sex and gender determinants of health and disease. Women's health mentors are being identified and supported to develop and sustain leadership roles for women scientists and clinicians. We are also invested and committed to provide learning experiences in laboratory and clinical settings for consumers of all ages who are interested in science and health.


In the past, the research community assumed that beyond the reproductive system, differences between men and women simply did not exist or were not relevant. Some of the reasons researchers have preferred male subjects include: the cost of using both sexes, a sense of having to protect vulnerable women and/or a potential fetus, uniformity, avoiding the “complications” of the menstrual cycle, and perceived complexity of recruitment.  However, the truth, as outlined in Dr.


NIH Request for Information

The NIH has formed a trans-NIH working group to inform the development of policies related to the inclusion of female animals and cells in basic research (most of this type of research is done on males only) . This Request for Information (RFI) seeks input from the research community and other interested stakeholders on the following topics regarding the consideration of sex as a biological variable in biomedical research. Public comment is sought for but not limited to the following:

  • Whether consideration of sex as a biological variable is an issue affecting the reproducibility, rigor, and/or generalizability of research findings. 
  • Areas of science (e.g., cancer, neuroscience) or phases of research (e.g., basic, translational) conducted with animals that have the greatest opportunity or need for considering sex as a biological variable. 
  • Areas of science or phases of research conducted with cells and/or tissues that have the greatest opportunity or need for considering sex as a biological variable. 
  • Main impediments (e.g. scientific, technical, and other) to considering sex as a biological variable in research.
  • Ways in which NIH can facilitate the consideration of sex as a biological variable in NIH-supported research.
  • Any additional comments you would like to offer to NIH about the development of policies for considering sex as a biological variable in research involving animals, tissues, or cells.  


Responses to this RFI must be submitted electronically using the web-based form at:  Please do not submit comments by other mechanisms, such as fax or email.

Responses will be accepted through October 13, 2014.

The Women's Health Research Institute created the Women’s Health Science Program (WHSP) for High School Girls & Beyond to provide science education programs to females from underserved communities. WHSP targets young women who are considering careers in science and medicine and prepares them with valuable knowledge and skills to successfully become the next generation of women science leaders.

The Illinois Women’s Health Registry was created to encourage more women to participate in research, and to encourage more scientists and providers to include women in their research studies.

The Institute offers the Women's Health Research Monthly Forum. This is a one-hour educational program, during lunchtime, to feature professionals from Northwestern University and other institutions across the nation to present basic science research, clinical research, clinical practice guideline and social implications related to women. The Monthly Forum is a dynamic venue to encourage more sex- and gender-based studies and to provide support and role models for emerging women's health scholars.

The Women's Health Research Institute has compiled a list of sex-sensitive academic and clinical resources for researchers, providers, educators and students..

Repropedia is a reproductive dictionary created by an international team of scientists and clinicians led by investigators at Northwestern University. An editorial board reviews all entries to ensure that definitions are both accurate and accessible to scientists and non-scientists alike.