Preclinical and clinical research is overreliant on male test subjects which can cloud future work in humans

The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) has invested an additional $10 million (£6.1 million) in studies that will consider sex and gender as a fundamental variable in research. The money will bolster the research of 82 grantees to apply a sex and gender lens to their preclinical and clinical studies in such areas as immunology, cardiovascular physiology, neural circuitry and behavioral health..

‘The current overreliance on male subjects in preclinical research can obscure key findings related to sex that could guide later human studies,’ the NIH warned in announcing the new supplemental funding. The agency said this ‘progressive approach’ will result in greater awareness of the need to study both sexes, demonstrate how research can incorporate sex and reinforce the value of taking it into account as these studies yield results.

With the supplemental funding, the researchers will add one of several elements to their original project to enable sex-based comparisons, including animals, tissues, or cells of the opposite sex.