The lack of females in basic research was highlighted by the Atlantic today. Melina R. Kibbe, MD and Teresa K Woodruff, PhD, two of the co-authors of a study published in Surgery this month, reported that 22% of the publications in five high-impact surgical journals between 2011 and 2012 did not specify the sex of their animal subjects, and of those that did, 80% only used male animals.
According to Kibbe, a surgeon and professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, “The obvious issue is, if you’re only studying males, you don’t know if that therapy is going to work in females.” Kibbe along with Dr. Woodruff, the director of the Women’s Health Research Institute at Northwestern University and a professor of OB/Gyn have been advocating for sex inclusion in all research– cells, animals and humans. Other members of the WHRI Leadership Council are looking at sex inclusion in their respective fields that are not typically consider to be impacted by sex: dermatology, anesthesiology, and neuroscience.
Last May, NIH Director Francis Collins acknowledged the lack of females in animal and cell research and is planning to development new guidelines for researchers. “It’s really an exciting for all of us who have been advocating for sex inclusion science,” Woodruff stated in the Atlantic article. “If we can fundamentally study the way sex influences biology, I think we’re going to learn a great deal…that’s going to change, frankly, our health.”