News Release

Monday, June 5, 2006

New Online Course Offers Insight into the Importance of Sex and Gender Differences in Human Health

Bethesda, Maryland — The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH), in collaboration with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Office of Women’s Health (OWH), announces the launch of a new online course, “The Science of Sex and Gender in Human Health.” The course offers participants a basic scientific understanding of the major physiological differences between the sexes, their influence on illness and health outcomes, and their implications for policy, medical research, and health care.

“Understanding the potential contribution of sex and gender factors in health and disease and in morbidity and mortality is critical to the public health and important for the design of research studies and their clinical implications,” said Vivian Pinn, M.D., Director of NIH ORWH.

“This online course will be an excellent resource for investigators and clinicians, ensuring a better understanding of sex and gender differences,” said Kathleen Uhl, M.D., Assistant Commissioner for FDA OWH.

Designed for researchers, clinicians, members of academia, and students in health professional schools, this course was created to emphasize the importance of looking at the roles of sex and gender in clinical research and treatment and builds upon the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, “Exploring the Biological Contributions to Human Health: Does Sex Matter,” issued in 2001 for which NIH and FDA were co-funders.

This course, which is free to the public, is self-paced and consists of six lessons that cover definitions of sex and gender; the development and implementation of applicable Federal guidelines and regulations; cell physiology; developmental biology; pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics; and clinical applications of genomics. The course is accessible at

This activity has been approved for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit ™. Other participants who complete the course will receive a certificate from the NIH. A second module, which will apply the basic concepts presented in this course to specific conditions and organ systems where sex differences play a significant role, is in development.

For more information about NIH’s Office of Research on Women’s Health, visit For more information about FDA’s Office of Women’s Health, go to

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is a science-based agency that protects and advances consumers’ health by regulating $1 trillion worth of products a year — the entire US food supply, except for meat and poultry; medical devices and all radiation-emitting equipment, biological products, including vaccines, blood products and tissues for transplantation; and cosmetics. For more information about FDA, visit

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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