Advancing Science for the Health of Women
The mission areas of the Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH) span the full spectrum of science—from lab bench to patient bedside and beyond. As the focal point for research on the health of women at NIH, ORWH leads, develops, and supports a diverse range of programs, initiatives, and policies to improve the health of all women at all stages of the life course and to support women in biomedical fields at all stages of their careers. Within NIH and the broader scientific community, ORWH aims to advance the inclusion of women in clinical trials, increase understanding of the importance of sex as a biological variable, and stimulate research pertaining to the health of women and the influences of sex and gender on health and disease.
Looking for NIH Funding Opportunities relevant to the health of women?Funding Opportunities
Signature ORWH Programs & Initiatives
BIRCWH (pronounced “birch”) is an institutional mentored career-development program designed to connect junior faculty to senior faculty with a shared interest in women’s health and sex differences research.
The SCORE program funds and supports Centers of Excellence around the country that serve as vital hubs for research exploring sex differences in health and disease—providing pilot funding, training, and education for researchers. Each center has three interrelated research projects headed by leaders in the field of sex and gender.
The U3 Administrative Supplement Program supports interdisciplinary research focused on intersectionality and health among populations of women that are understudied, underrepresented, and underreported in biomedical research.
The most robust experimental designs include consideration of both sex and gender (SAGE). The SAGE program provides supplemental funding to currently awarded NIH grants so that investigators can explore possible influences of sex and gender on their research hypotheses and results.
The Intersection of Sex and Gender Influences on Health and Disease is NIH’s first investigator-initiated, disease-agnostic R01 funding opportunity on sex and gender. It encourages researchers across many scientific disciplines to examine how factors related to sex and gender intersect with health and disease
Improving maternal health is a priority of ORWH and of NIH as a whole. ORWH co-leads the Implementing a Maternal health and Pregnancy Outcomes Vision for Everyone (IMPROVE) initiative and co-funds multiple IMPROVE research efforts. ORWH plays an important role in the creation and implementation of NIH-wide efforts to improve maternal health outcomes and collaborates with other NIH Institutes, Centers, and Offices (ICOs). In 2021, ORWH partnered with the NIH Office of Disease Prevention and other ICOs to deploy the multi-year rigorous process called the “Pathways to Prevention” (P2P) program to assess the current state of the science in maternal and postpartum health and healthcare, and to identify gaps that result in poor health, disease, and death. As part of the P2P process, a report will be generated with recommendations for an action plan to improve health outcomes.
For further information, please visit the NIH Maternal Morbidity & Mortality Web Portal on the ORWH website.
Office of Autoimmune Disease Research (OADR-ORWH)
Women bear a disproportionate burden of autoimmune disease compared to men. As announced at the April 2023 meeting of the Advisory Committee on Research on Women’s Health, the newly established Office of Autoimmune Disease Research (OADR-ORWH) within the Office of Research on Women’s Health will aim to advance research on autoimmune disease and increase coordination across NIH regarding autoimmune disease efforts. The creation of this office within ORWH was mandated by Congress in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023.
ORWH Policy & Planning Initiatives
Spearheaded by ORWH, this landmark NIH policy outlines NIH’s expectation that sex as a biological variable (SABV) will be factored into research designs, analyses, and reporting in vertebrate animal and human studies as scientifically appropriate. ORWH continues to invest in efforts to facilitate the adoption of the SABV policy across the NIH intramural and extramural communities, as well as in the greater scientific community.
Integral to ORWH’s mission to help ensure that women are included in clinical studies, the NIH inclusion policies state NIH’s expectation that applications for research with human subjects will accurately address the inclusion of women, individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic minority populations, and individuals of all ages in all phases of research design and analyses.
The Report of the Advisory Committee on Research on Women’s Health: Office of Research on Women’s Health and NIH Support for Research on Women’s Health is a biennial report by the Advisory Committee on Research on Women’s Health (ACRWH) detailing programs and accomplishments from across NIH in the area of women’s health and sex differences research.
Programs & Initiatives by Mission Area
Women's Health Equity and Inclusion
View ORWH research programs, initiatives, and activities related to advancing women’s health equity and promoting the inclusion of women of all ages and of every race and ethnicity in research populations.
Research and Initiatives Supporting Women in Biomedical Careers
View ORWH research programs, initiatives, and activities related to advancing the careers of women in biomedical and health professions and promoting gender equity across the biomedical workforce.