By Nola Elizabeth Masterson, MSC.
I was asked to help prepare panels for the 5th Annual Vivian W. Pinn Symposium sponsored by NIH and the foundation for National Institutes of Health (FNIH), and in doing so, my mind was stirred by the underinvestment in women’s health companies, technology breakthroughs for women’s health, and sex differences in life science research and development efforts.
I was shocked to learn, for example, that in preclinical studies, scientists overwhelmingly use male mice because the menstrual cycle of female mice might give different results! Women were only added as participants in clinical trials after 1994, and that was not voluntary but mandated by the government. Despite the mandate, including women and people of color in clinical trials is still not universally adopted. There is an ingrained fear of interfering with fertility. There is an unconscious bias in science against the data collected from mammals that have estrogen and progesterone. Bias in science leads to products that do not serve the total population. Women are not small men.