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U Conference: Sex and Gender Bias Still Around Medical Research

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Bob Nelson

It’s been twenty years since the National Institutes of Health declared that women should no longer be left out of important health research. Wednesday University of Utah researchers and health practitioners attended a half-day conference on campus focusing on those same challenges in research. Kathleen Digre is a University Professor of Neurology and Ophthalmology and an adjunct professor of OBGYN.  She says health research in the 1990’s began looking at factors related to sexual differences.

“But what happens is that it’s more than just the biologic differences that affect our health. Our health is actually affected by numerous things that are in our environment, our social circumstances, our financial circumstances, our emotional circumstances. And these are both possibly sex and gender-related,” says Digre.

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Credit Bob Nelson
Spencer S. Eccles Institute of Human Genetics

Dr. Carolyn Clancy is the interim undersecretary for health at the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the keynote speaker at the conference. Digre says Clancy is in a key position to help the VA through the many challenges related to the changing role of women in uniform.

“More women are in the military and this poses a whole lot of other issues both biological and gender issues that the VA is facing," says Digre, "and she is one of those pioneers that is looking at in the future to help the VA move into a new era and address both men and women’s health.”

The Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library and Center of Excellence in Women’s Health hosted the conference.

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