White House launches new initiative aimed at investing in women's health research

The White House is convening a new program aimed at furthering research into women's health.

The White House Initiative on Women's Health Research will be led by first lady Jill Biden and seeks to align work across multiple federal agencies, including the departments of Health and Human Services, Defense and Veterans Affairs.

The initiative's members are led by Chair Carolyn Mazure, Ph.D., an expert in women's health research. The group is aiming to deliver within 45 days "concrete" recommendations the Biden administration can follow to drive improvements on how research into women's health needs is conducted and find ways to maximize investments in such study.

"We have a clear goal: to fundamentally change how we approach and fund women's health research," Biden said on a call with reporters Monday morning.

On the call, Biden offered several examples of where research into the health issues affecting women is lacking. For example, cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death for women, but much of the traditional testing is based on how these conditions present in men.

Clinical research into conditions like endometriosis and even the body's shifts in menopause also lags, Biden said.

"Research on women's health has been underfunded for decades, and many conditions that mostly or not, or only affect women, or affect women differently, have received little to no attention," she said. "These gaps are even greater for communities that have historically been excluded from research, including women of color and women with disabilities."

The initiative members will identify key focus areas where investment "could be transformative," with the fact sheet specifically calling out cardiovascular care and menopause as examples.

The White House said it also intends to tap into the private sector, scientific community and philanthropic organizations.

In a statement, President Joe Biden said the initiative highlights the need to take "bold" steps to close key gaps in women's health.

“I have always believed in the power of research to save lives and to ensure that Americans get the high-quality health care they need," he said. "To achieve scientific breakthroughs and strengthen our ability to prevent, detect, and treat diseases, we have to be bold."