Hadassah Advocates Get Results
We work closely with key legislators to ensure that our outreach is coordinated and effective, and that our priorities are at the top of the congressional agenda. Following Days in the District with Hadassah advocates, several Representatives became cosponsors of the Research for All Act and the Women's Preventive Health Awareness Campaign. The lead sponsors of both bills sent letters to Hadassah thanking us for our efforts.
"Hadassah has been a real leader raising awareness that men and women are not treated equally in health research. Science needs to serve both men and women, and Hadassah's support for the Research for All Act will hep us reach our goals."
"I greatly appreciate Hadassah's partnership in the effort to improve women's health. The efforts of Hadassah members to support [my bill, the] Women's Preventive Health Awareness Campaign, by making it a policy issue in the 'Day in the District' campaign has made a difference in this regard."
A Special Advocacy Message from Congressman Ami Bera
Congressman Ami Bera (D-CA) also recorded a special video message to urge Hadassah members to take an active role in government by meeting with their elected officials and making their voices heard on important issues. Rep. Bera, MD, also discusses his own Women's Preventive Health Awareness Campaign legislation.
Why is Gender Equity in Medical Research Important?
A multitude of diseases are often misdiagnosed, or overlooked entirely, in women because medical research, diagnostic tools, and treatments are frequently based on male physiology. Even animal and cellular research subjects are overwhelmingly more male than female.
"Medical research that is gender-neutral or skewed to male physiology puts women at risk for missed opportunities for prevention, incorrect diagnoses, misinformed treatments, sickness and even death. "
—2014 report from researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital
Symptoms for many diseases do not present the same way in men and women, and too many research institutions still ignore the role of gender in medical outcomes. Heart disease is the number one killer of women, yet only 1/3 of research subjects are female. Without adequate participation in research trials, women are also vulnerable to dangerous drug reactions that could have been avoided. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), women and men respond differently to many drugs, including antihistamines, blood pressure medicine, anesthesia, aspirin, sleep aids and more.
Until 1994, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (one of the world's largest funders of biomedical research) excluded women from early studies of most drugs. Though mainly for safety reasons, this prohibition meant there was little information about the effects of diagnoses, as well as drugs and other therapies, on women. The National Institutes of Health is taking positive steps to correct this, and Congress has become involved, pushing for better polices that will lead to better health outcomes for women.
Members of Congress have also been actively conducting oversight on the activities of the FDA and NIH in addressing gender inequities in medical research. In June 2014, Reps. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), and Lois Capps (D-CA) initiated a letter signed by 19 Congressional colleagues calling on the NIH to disclose demographic information pertaining to all clinical trials, in an effort to improve equity in research. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), Rep. Rosa DeLauro and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), along with other Senators and Representatives, also recently requested a Government Accountability Office report on gender equity in medical research.
On April 29, Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN) and Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) reintroduced the bipartisan Research for All Act (H.R.2101) so that medical research can benefit women and men equally. This critical legislation would help ensure that U.S.-funded biomedical research—from the most basic, cellular-level studies to late-stage clinical trials—accounts for differences between the sexes and yields therapies and cures that are tailored appropriately for both men and for women. Hadassah is proud endorser of the Research for All Act, which represents a critical step toward ensuring effective, non-discriminatory medical research.
Download Hadassah's Women & Health Fact Sheet and the Gender Equity in Medical Research Media Kit. The kit includes a draft letter to the editor, sample social media posts, and graphics to help promote Hadassah's campaign that medical research should benefit everyone equally.