THE FUTURE OF SEX AND GENDER RESEARCH IN MEDICINE

N 2012, my colleague Esther K. Choo, MD, and I were approached by Basmah Safdar, MD, director of the Yale New Haven Hospital Chest Pain Center, and Marna Greenberg, DO, director of emergency medicine research at Lehigh Valley Hospital, about a collaboration.
“Let’s put together something to present on sex and gender medicine at the SAEM Consensus Conference,” they said. Of course, Dr. Choo and I were honored to be invited to collaborate.
We spent nearly a year creating a hefty proposal and presentation plan for this highly competitive conference and, several months later, found out that we’d been accepted.
In 2014, over one hundred top emergency medicine researchers showed up for our daylong symposium. We looked at cardio- and cerebrovascular issues, pain, trauma and injury, diagnostic imaging, mental health, and substance abuse through the lens of sex and gender. We also touched on social perceptions and how they influence our in-the-moment choices in the emergency department.
That day, we created one hundred new experts in sex and gender medicine. Since then, that number has grown exponentially—and Drs. Choo, Safdar, and Greenberg have become long-term friends and collaborators.
In 2015, I helped to design and facilitate an event titled “Sex and Gender Medicine Education Summit: A Roadmap for Curricular Innovation.” This collective initiative of the American Medical collective initiative of the American Medical Women’s Association, the Laura Bush Institute for Women’s Health, the Mayo Clinic, and the Society for Women’s Health Research was held on the campus of the Mayo Clinic. Our more than 170 in-person and virtual attendees represented faculty and deans from ninety-nine US medical schools, as well as federal agencies and research organizations. Over the course of the two-day symposium, we provided information and tools to begin to integrate sex-differences research into medical school curricula and ongoing education programs for providers.
Then, in April 2018, we expanded our platform via the Sex and Gender Health Education Summit in Salt Lake City, Utah. This opened the doors for educators in all health professions—including dentistry, nursing, pharmacy, and “allied health” professions like physical therapy and occupational therapy—to learn how to integrate sex-differences research into their educational curricula and create a step-by-step plan for sex and gender integration.
Every time we bring a group of professionals together in a setting like these, it facilitates a wave of change. It’s my mission to keep those waves coming—to create a tide of change and eventually a tsunami. Ultimately, I know, we will reach a tipping point where what was once unusual and specialized will become common knowledge and practice.

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