Women's Health Research Institute Director, Dr. Teresa Woodruff was featured in a recent Chicago Sun-Times piece. Discussing everything from her research, her advocacy efforts, and even her hobbies, Dr. Woodruff breaks down the importance of sex-based research. From basic science to clinical trials, both sexes need to be examined to determine differences (if any) in treatment or prescription drug dosage. Identifying these differences can potentially prevent adverse drug events for men and women, and leads to better, personalized medicine.
In an article featuring Dr. Melina Kibbe, Dr. Teresa Woodruff and Dr. Amy Paller, among others, Sandra Guy gives voice to the gender equity movement in medicine. The article, featured in the Fall 2013 edition of Society for Women Engineers, detailed the various roles sex differences play in research and medicine. Enumerating sex differences from cancer detection to skin disease to artificial limbs, Guy follows the journey of discovery and advocacy towards better science where sex is examined as a research variable. Sandra Guy recently received the Award of Excellence for this piece, rounding out to her sixth national magazine writing award!
60 Minutes' Sunday feature "Sex Matters: Drugs Can Affect Sexes Differently" put a huge splash in the medical drug industry! Consulting researchers from Northwestern University, the University California Irvine, and the Food and Drug Administration (among others), reporters at CBS News tracked the real story of gender inequity at the research level. Using the recall dosage of Ambien in women as a springboard to their discussion, the piece then launched into the need to not only examine sex as a research variable moving forward, but also to potentially re-examine previously approved drugs to test for potential harmful effects in women.
All researchers in the feature admitted that their attention to the research variances by gender was not initially intuitive to them as scientists. Despite the knowledge of sex differences in drug reaction being known for nearly 50 years, it was a commonly held belief that the primary differences between men and women were in regards to their reproductive organs and cells. Dr. Teresa Woodruff, of the Women's Health Research Institute, however, has been advocating for the study of sex as a variable since her very first years in the field--continually arguing that every cell has a sex--from skin, to liver, to heart, to bones. It's refreshing that increased publicity on this issue can finally propel this knowledge to the masses in a way that can no longer be swept aside.
This is truly a victory for the Women's Health Research Institute and women's health in general. The Institute's collaboration with those at 60 Minutes has provided much needed exposure to this inequity in women's health, and it's exciting to be consulted as a leader in this field. Browse the 60 Minutes website to watch clips from Sunday's show--including segment extras featuring Northwestern's Dr. Teresa Woodruff and Dr. Melina Kibbe.
Dr. Teresa Woodruff of the Women’s Health Research Institute has been a consistent voice advocating for sex-based research. Recently, Dr. Woodruff consulted with CBS on an upcoming feature to shed light on the importance of sex as a research variable—due to the imbalances between male and female research subjects resulting in inadequate health care for women. In a reaction to the FDA recalling the recommended dosage for women taking Ambien, CBS announced today that their 60 Minutes feature this Sunday will investigate drug dosage differences between men and women. Ambien, a popular sleep drug, was discovered to have adverse effects in women last year. Researchers found that women metabolize Ambien differently than men, which leads to a higher percentage of the drug in the female body. The FDA responded to this incident by halving the previously recommended dosage, just in women.
Last year’s Ambien debacle is merely the tip of the iceberg; it is just one example of the importance of sex differences in research! The truth is, little is actually known or studied about how drugs affect women differently than men. Despite ever-growing evidence of sex differences in health research and care, there are no official standards mandating the observation of sex as a variable in drug and device studies. A report on the incidence of adverse drug reactions published at Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1965 revealed “a striking correlation between incidence and the sex of the patient.” This 49-year-old study revealed that women accounted for 73% of the adverse drug reactions tested—and numbers have hardly improved in the half a century since this study was published. This is appalling. The knowledge of adverse drug reactions in women has been publically stated for nearly 50 years! We have this knowledge. We've known this for half a century. It is time to act on this knowledge.
Dr. Woodruff and the Women’s Health Research Institute as a whole are thrilled that 60 Minutes is broadcasting about the potentially catastrophic events that can occur if drugs are not moderated for use on female patients. Dr. Woodruff and colleague Dr. Melina Kibbe were honored to serve as crucial collaborators on this CBS feature. It’s critical that discussion sparks action on this issue. Addressing the differences between men and women at the research level will lead to more accurate science and better-tailored health care for women. Be sure to tune into CBS on Sunday, February 9th at 7:00pm ET to get the full story!
Watch a preview of the feature HERE.