Historically, research into various diseases and health conditions was conducted exclusively on men, despite the fact that both men and women are affected by a range of illnesses and stand to benefit from the most contemporary treatments. Today, as we aim to conduct inclusive health research and to provide effective, personalized healthcare to all people, we recognize a significant truth: A number of important differences exist between men’s and women’s experiences of health and illness. Some diseases occur more commonly among women, while others disproportionately affect men. Further, men and women frequently experience different symptoms of the same underlying problem or illness (e.g., heart disease), and they often respond differently to the same medications or therapies. To learn more about cardiovascular disease, cancer, diseases of the nervous and musculoskeletal systems, reproductive biology, autoimmune diseases, and so many other conditions, we must accept that the sex of an individual contributes to health and disease in significant ways.


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.

While much progress has been made since the passage of the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993 (PL 103-43)  mandating full NIH implementation of earlier policies for inclusion of women and minorities in clinical studies, there is still much work to be done to ensure that sex and gender equity exists across the full spectrum of women's health research and care and this issue is a top priority for the WHRI. In addition, we also advocate for policies that help the advancement of women in science.

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 Oncofertility Consortium® is a national, interdisciplinary initiative designed to address the complex health care and quality-of-life issues that concern young cancer patients whose fertility may be threatened by their disease or its treatment.

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.

There is a lack of funding for sex- and gender-based research, in addition to a lack of awareness that conducting sexually dimorphic studies is necessary. In service of our mission to increase the sex- and gender-research portfolio at Northwestern, the Institute developed its Pioneer Awards program to provide investigators with seed funding.