Podcast episode on seX & whY: Sex and Gender Variables in Science Research

12 January 2022 | seX & whY and GENDRO

The podcast discusses the often overlooked issue of gender representation in medical research, particularly focusing on HIV trials and pharmacological studies. Dr. Heidari, founding president of GENDRO, and her team conducted a systematic review revealing a significant gender disparity in HIV research trials, where only 19% of participants were women despite them constituting more than 50% of HIV cases. The conversation delves into the history of gender inclusion mandates, such as the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993 and subsequent mandates for basic science research, highlighting the importance of including both sexes from the outset to avoid overlooking physiological sex-based differences that could emerge later in clinical trials.

Despite progress, adherence to guidelines ensuring gender inclusion remains inconsistent, and there is a gap between simply including men and women in studies and conducting appropriate gender-specific analyses. The podcast emphasizes the necessity of breaking down study results by gender and even calculating the optimal gender distribution in study designs to ensure robust findings. Additionally, the discussion touches on pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, illustrating how drugs can affect male and female bodies differently, with examples like marijuana pharmacokinetics showing that women require less marijuana to experience the same effects, which could be obscured by higher dropout rates among women in previous studies. The conversation underscores the critical need for considering gender differences in medical research to ensure equitable and effective healthcare outcomes.

Listen to the podcast here.