Date Posted: June 12, 2024


ORWH, in collaboration with NIH partners and other federal agencies, spearheaded the development of the NIH Policy on Sex as a Biological Variable (SABV) to encourage clinicians and researchers to consider SABV at all stages of the research process. The development of this policy stemmed from an over-reliance on male animals and cells in basic and preclinical biomedical research, which obscures our understanding of the impact an individual’s biological sex can have on health, processes, and outcomes. Historically, female humans and animals have been excluded from research because of concerns that monthly hormonal changes would impact data and fear of causing harm to a potential pregnancy.  

ORWH continues to highlight the importance of considering SABV in research. A new NIH publication, Ensuring Accountability for Consideration of Sex as a Biological Variable in Research, of which ORWH Director Janine A. Clayton M.D., FARVO, is a contributing author, will appear in the July-August 2024 issue of Nursing Outlook. It asserts the expectation that researchers account for the influence of SABV in vertebrate animal and human studies and provides a strong justification for single-sex investigations. It also underscores that when SABV is considered in the research design, data analyses, and reporting, the rigor and reproducibility of the research are elevated and inform best practices.

This publication is intended as a “call to action” for nurse researchers to lean into and apply this policy’s principles and recommendations, from the bench to the bedside, to advance the equity and health of all people.

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