A Strong Voice for Women’s Health Research

Marsha B. Henderson-FDA

Marsha B. Henderson, assistant commissioner for women’s health at the FDA.

As ob-gyns, we provide health care for women every single day, sharing their stories and hearing their concerns. And as ob-gyns, we know that many diseases and treatments affect women and men differently. Perhaps no organization frames this gender difference in medicine better than the Society for Women’s Health Research (SWHR).

SWHR was “born” in 1989 when Dr. Florence Haseltine gathered friends and colleagues from medical and scientific organizations across the country to address the critical need for more research focused on women. Meeting at ACOG headquarters in Washington, DC, the group agreed on the need not only for more gynecological research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), but also for increased research in women’s health across many specialties. This multi-disciplinary, multi-organizational effort has thrived ever since.

Last week, Drs. Hal Lawrence, Sandra Carson, Barbara Levy, and I were honored to attend the Annual SWHR Gala Dinner to celebrate the work of Marsha B. Henderson, assistant commissioner for women’s health with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Ms. Henderson is the first recipient of SWHR’s Dr. Estelle Ramey Award for Women’s Health Leadership. In her key role, she coordinates FDA policy, research, and outreach efforts to protect and advance women’s health. Ms. Henderson also advocates for the participation of women in clinical trials and for sex, gender, and subpopulation analyses. Bravo to Ms. Henderson for her outstanding work!

On a related note, we are delighted that SWHR has joined ACOG and many other organizations that are urging the House Energy and Commerce Committee to hold a hearing to examine the progress made by NIH and the FDA on including more women and minorities in medical research. We will keep you updated on any developments on this front.

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