ENVISIONING A CONCEPTUAL MODEL OF SEX AND GENDER DIFFERENCES IN HEALTH AND DISEASE
MAY 14, 2018
ABOUT THE PRESENTATION
There is a long history of biomedical research conducted/performed on males and generalized to females. Early decisions to study males (animals and humans) were based in part on a need to simplify experiments and other studies and to avoid potential risks in the event a female participant was or became pregnant. But these decisions were also based on early findings in behavioral research showing different results in male animals than females, where the differences were presumed to be related to sex hormones. If it were once justifiable to base research on males and assume generalizability to females, that day is long past. Today, a growing body of research demonstrates that there are biological sex differences all the way down to the cellular level and even genetic level. Similarly, studies of health ramifications in the lives of women and girls vs. men and boys indicate that socioeconomic, cultural, behavioral and even environmental differences in exposures influence sex and gender differences in mental health and disease. Addressing the knowledge gaps regarding sex and gender influences on mental health and illness can significantly increase the capacity to prevent, diagnose, and treat mental health disorders, and inform a wide range of policies including but not limited to healthcare. Closing the knowledge gaps will require two approaches. The first approach is to improve the attention to the mental health of women and girls, not only by studying females as well as males but also by enhancing study designs to reflect the populations of women and girls with mental health problems, including those who are older and those with comorbidities. The second approach is to improve research designs and require sex/gender-based analysis to systematically assess whether, and to what extent, findings hold for females as well males. In short, asking better questions and more thoroughly and systematically analyzing the data is better science.
Tamara Lewis Johnson, M.P.H., M.B.A.
Chief, Women’s Health Research Program
Office for Research on Disparities and Global Mental Health, NIMH
Ms. Tamara Lewis Johnson is the Chief of the Women’s Health Research Program for the Office for Research on Disparities and Global Mental Health. She is responsible for providing advice and guidance on matters relating to women’s health research and mental health. Ms. Lewis Johnson brings 11 years of experience in health science management from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) where she served as a Health Science Specialist in the Division of Extramural Activities’ Office of Extramural Research Policy Operations. Ms. Lewis Johnson supported the development of initiatives to promote investments in biomedical research that advance public health outcomes. She has produced reports that describe the importance of infectious and immune-mediated research initiatives to congressional staffers, scientific organizations, and constituency groups. Her expertise in systems engineering, implementation science and operations research have enabled her to advance translational research that can be used in low-income settings in the United States and abroad. Ms. Lewis Johnson has been instrumental in the development of scientific workgroups to advance public health outcomes through the support of discovery science to advance improved diagnostics, drug development, and vaccine research. She also served as the Senior Program Manager for Women’s Health for the Office of Special Populations and Research Training where she was responsible for managing research and training initiatives related to women’s health research in infectious diseases and immune-mediated illnesses.
Prior to her work at NIAID, Ms. Lewis Johnson worked at the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) as the Women’s Health Team Lead and Acting Deputy Director of the Office of Women and Minority's Health (OMWH), at HRSA's Bureau of Primary Health Care (BPHC). Ms. Johnson holds two Master’s Degrees, one in Business Administration and one in Public Health, with a concentration in Health Services Management, from the University of California, Berkeley as well as a Bachelor's Degree in Industrial Engineering from Stanford University.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Chloe E. Bird, Ph.D.
Senior Social Scientist, RAND Corporation
Professor, Pardee RAND Graduate School
Dr. Chloe E. Bird is a senior social scientist at the RAND Corporation where she studies women's health and determinants of gender differences in health and health care. She is also a member of the Pardee RAND Graduate School faculty. Dr. Bird recently served as a senior advisor to the director of the NIH Office for Research on Women’s Health and as editor-in-chief of the journal Women's Health Issues, where she is now associate editor. Her recent work includes a study assessing and mapping gender disparities in quality of care for cardiovascular disease and diabetes, among United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) patients in California and Texas, as well as NIH-funded research on the impact of neighborhoods and behaviors on allostatic load, morbidity, and mortality. In her book Gender and Health: The Effects of Constrained Choice and Social Policies, Dr. Bird and coauthor Patricia P. Rieker explore how policymakers and other stakeholders shape men's and women's opportunities to pursue a healthy life. They emphasize the need for research that informs stakeholder decisions in order to improve women's health and reduce disparities. Bird is working to build a donor-funded Women's Heart Health Research and Policy Center at RAND to improve women's health by improving science and policy related to the health of women and by addressing deficits in women's health and health care. Dr. Bird received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Association for Health Behavior.