NIH News Advisory
Office of the Director

Wednesday, Jun. 4, 1997

Ellyn Pollack

NIH Sponsors Meeting To Determine the Future
Direction of Women's Health Research

The Office of Research on Women's Health (ORWH) at the National Institutes of Heath is sponsoring the second of three regional meetings in New Orleans to determine and address continuing and emerging issues in women's health research. This meeting will focus on sex/gender perspectives for women's health research. A public hearing will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 11, to enable representatives of organizations with an interest in biomedical and behavioral research on women's health to testify. A scientific workshop will be held on June 12 and 13. Both events which are sponsored by ORWH and hosted by Tulane University Medical Center, Xavier University of Louisiana, and Meharry Medical College will be held at the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel, 500 Canal Street, New Orleans.

The scientific workshop will focus on gender differences, continuing gaps in knowledge, and emerging scientific issues. There are four major objectives of the two-day scientific workshop. The first objective is to assess the current status of research on women's health and identify gaps in knowledge. The second objective is to identify factors that may influence health status, including physiological, psychosocial, and pharmacological differences that exist between women and men. The last two objectives consist of addressing important research issues across the spectrum (from basic studies to clinical and applied research), with special focus on the effects of environmental hazards and toxins across the life span, and developing strategies that can result in an improved health status for all women, regardless of race, ethnicity, age, or socioeconomic status.

In 1991, ORWH convened a national meeting to assess the state of the science and to develop a research agenda for women's health. The report emanating from that meeting, Opportunities for Research on Women's Health, set forth the research recommendations developed by working groups which focused on the major stages of a woman's life span and on the scientific issues, diseases, and conditions that affect women's health. That report has served as the broad blueprint for women's health research at NIH.

Since that meeting, science has continued to expand, giving rise to new questions and pursuits. New public health issues and challenges have emerged in the field of women's health. ORWH is updating and revising the NIH agenda for women's health research for the 21st century, a process that is designed to identify continuing or emerging gaps in knowledge as well as provide strategies to address these unresolved deficiencies in scientific information.

The next regional meeting–which will be held July 21, 22, and 23 at the Hilton Hotel in Santa Fe, New Mexico–will focus on differences among populations of women and factors that contribute to the differences in health status and health outcomes. ORWH will sponsor a national meeting November 17-19, 1997, in Bethesda, Maryland, to finalize recommendations for the NIH agenda on research on women's health for the 21st century.