ORWH Mission

The Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH) serves as the focal point for women’s health research at NIH. It is the first Public Health Service office dedicated specifically to promoting women’s health research within and beyond the NIH scientific community. ORWH also fosters the recruitment, retention, reentry, and advancement of women in biomedical careers. Learn more.


ORWH Director

Janine Austin Clayton, M.D., FARVO, was appointed Associate Director for Research on Women’s Health at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Director of the NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health in 2012. Dr. Clayton is the architect of the NIH policy requiring scientists to consider sex as a biological variable across the research spectrum. This policy is part of NIH’s initiative to enhance reproducibility through rigor and transparency. As co-chair of the NIH Working Group on Women in Biomedical Careers with NIH Acting Director Lawrence A. Tabak, D.D.S., Ph.D., Dr. Clayton also leads NIH’s efforts to advance women in science careers. Dr. Clayton was elected to the Board of Directors of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). You can learn more about Dr. Clayton from her Director’s Corner and Blog and by following her on Twitter.


Inclusion of Women in Clinical Research

Women and men are different on a cellular level. The inclusion of women in clinical research is necessary and important. Different pathways in men and women may lead to the same disease. Additionally, knowing how each sex responds to diagnosis and treatment is vital to improving the delivery of care. NIH Inclusion Policies and NIH Inclusion Toolkit: How to Engage, Recruit, and Retain Women in Clinical Research provide more information.


Sex as a Biological Variable

Until a few decades ago, researchers believed there were no significant differences between males and females other than their reproductive functions. Because of this belief, basic and preclinical research focused only on male animals and cells. To gain a clear understanding of female biology, NIH developed and implemented the NIH Policy on Sex as a Biological Variable (SABV), which states: “NIH expects that sex as a biological variable will be factored into research designs, analyses, and reporting in vertebrate animal and human studies.” Investigators seeking NIH funding for research should study both sexes or provide a strong justification for studying only one sex. You can read the NIH Policy on Sex as a Biological Variable and guidance on Consideration of Sex as a Biological Variable in NIH-funded Research for more information. The SABV Primer consists of four independent, interactive modules that are designed to help the biomedical community account for and appropriately integrate SABV across the full spectrum of biomedical sciences.


ORWH Programs

ORWH fosters, guides, and supports research on women’s health and the influences of sex and gender on health and disease to improve the health of women. ORWH partners with the NIH Institutes, Centers, and Offices (ICOs) and other Federal agencies to co-fund research in these areas:

Learn more about our funded research and programs


ORWH Publications, Resources, and Social Media

ORWH publications provide a wealth of information about the mission that drives our work and our strategy to improve the health of all through better scientific research. 


Strategic Plan

Janine Clayton, M.D., FARVO; Associate Director,
NIH Research on Women’s Health;
Director, NIH ORWH
Strategic Plan

Integration of the Influences of Sex and Gender Throughout the Biomedical Research Continuum Generates Evidence to
Improve the Health of Women
Strategic Plan

Trans-NIH Strategic Plan Infographic