The John B. Pierce Laboratory

May 12 Issue of Cell – Dr. Nina Stachenfeld on Sex, Gender, and the Mechanisms of Disease

Dr. Nina Stachenfeld publishes commentary on Sex, Gender, and the Mechanisms of Disease in the May 12 issue of the Journal Cell.

A newly published paper in the journal Cell asserts that despite the challenges in navigating the paradigm shift required to study the effects of sex and gender as well as the biological and social determinants of health, the future of science is to study how all these factors intersect.

Dr. Nina Stachenfeld, Fellow at the John B. Pierce Laboratory, Senior Research Scientist of Ob/Gyn and Reproductive Sciences, with Co-Author, Dr. Carolyn Mazure, Director of Women’s Health Research at Yale, Norma Weinberg Spungen and Joan Lebson Bildner Professor in Women’s Health Research and Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology published the commentary Precision medicine requires understanding how both sex and gender influence health in the journal Cell.  This invited Commentary was written to draw attention to sex-specific disparities in chronic disease. The authors focused on the slow progress in studying sex as a biological variable (SABV) and described the importance of incorporating SABV and the influence of gendered effects of the social environment on biology in research. The paper describes the intersection of race, sex, gender and social factors in cardiovascular disease, and how gendered effects of social factors can affect biology in cardiovascular disease.  This paper also discussed important implications of sex on the cellular level, indicating that much of research has relied on the incorrect assumption that both sexes rely on the same regulatory pathways, so recommends that determining and reporting the sex of cells should be done in research whenever possible.  The paper concluded with “Opportunities for Advancing Research”, including applying for research supplements, research analyses that include both sexes retroactively, designing research that allows examination of SABV, studying the effects of gender on biology in human studies, and finally, institutional changes by journal editors and funding agencies to enforce already existing guidelines to enhance rigor in our experimental designs.  These changes are imperative to enhance the “relevance and practical benefit of research”.

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