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Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH)

History and Mission

Photo of a researcher working

The Office of Research on Women’s Health is the first Public Health Service office dedicated specifically to promote women’s health and sex differences research within and beyond the NIH scientific community. The ORWH was established in September 1990 and reaffirmed by statute in congressional legislation by the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993. Congress assigned a far-reaching leadership role for ORWH by mandating that the ORWH director:

  • Advise the NIH Director and staff on matters relating to research on women’s health.
  • Strengthen and enhance research related to diseases, disorders, and conditions that affect women.
  • Ensure that research conducted and supported by NIH adequately addresses issues regarding women’s health.
  • Ensure that women are appropriately represented in biomedical and bio-behavioral research studies supported by the NIH.
  • Develop opportunities and support for recruitment, retention, reentry, and advancement of women in biomedical careers.
  • Support research on women’s health issues.

In 2006, the NIH Reform Act called for a reorganization of the Office of the Director, placing the ORWH within a new division known as the Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives (DPCPSI). As a result of this legislation, the ORWH Director reports to the director of DPCPSI.

ORWH establishes the NIH research agenda for women’s health, co-funds research projects in partnership with NIH Institutes and Centers, and supports career development for early-stage scientists focused on women’s health research.

Further Reading

This page last reviewed on January 28, 2014

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