SWHR: Transforming Science

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SWHR Timeline

SWHR continues to fulfill its mission to improve the health of all women through science, advocacy, and education, with scientific meetings, policy briefings and public education campaigns. The links below list some of SWHR's important accomplishments over the past 20+ years. Please click a date to read more about SWHR's work at a given time.

1985 • 1990 • 1993 • 1994 • 1996 • 1999 • 2000 • 2001 • 2002 • 2003 • 2004 • 2005 • 2006 • 2007 • 2008 • 2009 • 2010 • 2011 • 2012

Other Science Meetings
Policy Briefings
Public Education Campaigns


1985 The Public Health Service Task Force on Women’s Health Issues states that the lack of research on women’s health had compromised quality of information and care for women.

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1990 Society for Women’s Health Research (SWHR) founded by a group of physicians, medical researchers and health advocates who want to bring attention to the lack of inclusion of women in medical research and NIH-supported clinical research trials (for the myriad of diseases and conditions that affect women solely, uniquely, disproportionately).

1990 SWHR, working with the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues and Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA), asks the Government Accounting Office (GAO) to examine if the health of American women is at risk due to biases in biomedical research. The audit, (National Institutes of Health: Problems in Implementing Policy on Women in Study Populations. Rep. GAO/T-HRD-90-50), released in June 1990, concludes that NIH’s policy to encourage the inclusion of women in clinical trials had not been well communicated or understood within NIH or within the research community at large.

1990 NIH, in reaction to the release of the GAO report and Congressional and health advocacy concerns, creates the Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH) to direct focus on women’s health issues.

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1993 SWHR opens official headquarters in Washington, D.C. and hires its first professional staff. Phyllis Greenberger selected as SWHR’s first executive Director (later her title is changed to President).

1993 Congress passes the NIH Revitalization Act (Public Law). The legislation, written with input from SWHR, mandates that women and minorities be included in all clinical research and requires that Phase III clinical trials be analyzed by sex. Further, the act codifies the Office of Research on Women’s Health, making it a permanent entity.

1993 The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in response to the changes implemented at NIH, rescinds earlier guidelines recommending restrictions on the participation of women with child-bearing potential and leaves the determination of risks and benefits of their inclusion to patients, investigation sponsors and Institutional Review Boards.

1993 In response to SWHR’s request, GAO examines the inclusion of women in clinical trials used by FDA in evaluating drugs for marketing approval. This report (Women’s Health: FDA Needs to Ensure More Study of Gender Differences in Prescription Drug Testing. Rep. GAO-HRD-93-17) concludes that “FDA has not effectively overseen the presentation and analysis of data related to sex differences in drug development.” 

1993-2003 SWHR sponsors a series of annual Scientific Advisory Meetings (SAM) to engage the scientific and clinical research communities in discussions regarding the importance of sex differences in diseases and health conditions.

  • 1993 Women's Health and the Environment
  • 1994 Promoting Healthy Behavior in Young Women
  • 1995 Gender Based Biology: What Does It Mean and Why Does It Matter?
  • 1996 Genetics and Women’s Health
  • 1997 Toward a Women’s Health Outcomes Research Agenda
  • 1998 Bridging the Gap between Basic and Clinical Research: Neurology,   Immunity, and Pharmacology
  • 1999 Frontiers of Sex-Based Biology: Musculoskeletal Health, Metabolism and Digestive Diseases
  • 2000 Nutrition Research: The Unique Needs of Women
  • 2000 Frontiers of Sex-Based Biology: Drug Addiction, Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Pain
  • 2002 Sex Differences in Neuroscience
  • 2003 Sex Differences in Lung Cancer: From Genes to Behavior

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1994 Women’s Health Office Act (WHOA), SWHR’s signature piece of legislation, first introduced by Representative Olympia Snowe. WHOA seeks to make permanent the offices of women’s health within the Department of Health and Human Services.

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1996 SWHR submits a proposal to Institute of Medicine (IOM) to validate the concept of sex-based biology and chart direction for future research.

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1999 SWHR establishes the Women’s Health Research Coalition (WHRC), comprising over 600 advocates nationwide.

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2000 SWHR successfully places committee report language in the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill that supports the continued funding of the Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH) program at ORWH. This program supports junior faculty members who have recently completed clinical training or postdoctoral fellowships, and who are beginning basic, translational, clinical, and/or health services research related to women's health researchers in an interdisciplinary mentored environment in women’s health research by pairing junior researchers with senior investigators. 

2000 SWHR sponsors first of a series of Conferences on Sex and Gene Expression (SAGE), highlighting significant findings on sex-based biology and providing a forum for scientists to share their research. Topics include: Gene Imprinting and Parent of Origin Effects, Sex Differences in Cell Biology, Steroid Hormone Effects, and Sex Differences in Gene Expression. The keynote lecturers are Donald McDonell, PhD, from Duke University (Mining the Complexities of Steroid Hormone Receptor Action), David Page, MD, from Whitehead Institute/MIT (Defects of the Sex Chromosomes), and Shirley Tilghman, PhD, from Princeton University (Sex and Gene Expression).

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2001 IOM report, “Exploring the Biological Contributions to Human Health: Does Sex Matter?,” concludes that sex matters in health “from womb to tomb” and the exploration of sex differences holds the promise of greater understanding of human biology and significant improvements in health and health care for both women and men.

2001 GAO releases another audit on FDA at the urging of SWHR. The report, “Drug Safety: Most Drugs Withdrawn in Recent Years Had Greater Health Risks for Women” (Rep. GAO-01-286R) reveals that 8 out of the last 10 drugs withdrawn from the market caused adverse events more often in women than in men. The report concludes that “FDA has not effectively overseen the presentation and analysis of data related to sex differences in drug development.”

2001 SWHR testifies before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, regarding SWHR request for appropriations directed towards creating an Agency-wide database focused on women’s health activities to include demographic data on clinical trials. SWHR is successful in getting $500,000 allocated to the Office of Women’s Health (OWH) at FDA, to establish and maintain the database.

2001 SWHR secures funding for FDA IT system to focus on women’s demographic data in clinical trials.

2001 SWHR’s second annual SAGE Conference includes the following panel topics: Sex Differences in Development, Sex Differences in Cognitive Development, The Use of Mitochondria and Y Chromosomes for Understanding Population Genetics, Mitochondrial Diseases, and Interaction of Genotype and Environment in Complex Diseases. The keynote lecturers are Douglas Wallace, Ph.D., from Emory University School of Medicine (Mitochondrial Variation in Degenerative Disease and Aging), Donald W. Pfaff, Ph.D., from The Rockefeller University (Neuroendocrine Mechanisms Underlying Hormonal Effects on Arousal: Molecular and Genetic Approaches), and Huntington F. Willard, Ph.D., from University Hospitals of Cleveland and Case Western Reserve University (The Biology of the X Chromosome: Compensating for Sex Differences).

2001-2002 SWHR sponsors regional SAMs in response to the 2001 IOM report.

  • July 2001 Subgroup Analysis and Statistical Design in Clinical Research, Washington, DC
  • November 2001 Sex Differences in Autoimmunity, Boston MA
  • March 2002 Sex Differences in Fetal and Neonatal Development, Stanford, CA
  • July 2002 Sex Differences in Cardiovascular Disease, Madison, WI
  • November 2002 Sex Differences in Environmental Exposures, Research Triangle Park, NC

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2002 SWHR ISIS Network on Sex, Gender, Drugs and the Brain launches.

2002 Women’s Health Office Act (WHOA) passes the House of Representatives.

2002 Appropriations money specified for SCOR and for expanded funding for its Specialized Centers of Research on Sex and Gender Factors Affecting Women’s Health.

2002 SAGE conference on Sex Differentiation and Molecular Signaling: Genetic and Therapeutic Implications: Model Systems for Understanding Sex Differences in Development, Sex & Gene Expression in the Immune System, Interactions between Steroid Hormones, and Apoptosis and Carcinogenesis. The keynote lecturers are Patricia Donahoe, MD, from Harvard Medical School (The Multiple Effects of Mullerian Inhibiting Substance), Diana Bianchi, MD, from Tufts University (Fetal Cells in Maternal Organs: The Good, the Bad, and the Pretty), Eric Vilain, MD, PhD, from UCLA (Genes, Sex, Gender & Society), and David Botstein, PhD, from Stanford University School of Medicine (Extracting Biological Information from DNA Microarray Data).

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2003 SWHR’s successful advocacy efforts to Congress help double the NIH budget, a five-year effort completed in 2003.

2003 SWHR ISIS Network on Metabolism launches.

2003 SWHR holds fourth annual SAGE Conference on Sexual Dimorphism in Development and Aging: Sexual dimorphism of cells, Sexual dimorphism in meiosis, and Sexual dimorphism in cellular morphology and function, Sex differences in aging, Emerging technologies: What can somatic cell nuclear transfer tell us about development?, Sex Differences in Development. The keynote lecturers are Maj Hultén, M.D., Ph.D., FRCP, from University of Warwick, UK (Crossovers On The Road To Sperm And Eggs) and Daniel D. Federman, M.D., Harvard Medical School (Human Sex Differentiation: Errors, Surprises, And Opportunities).

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2004 SWHR publishes a consumer pamphlet “Just the Facts: What Women Need to Know about Sex Differences in Health.”

2004 SWHR publishes a pamphlet for professionals and scientists “Just the Facts: Sex Based Biology.”

2004 SWHR holds fifth annual SAGE Conference: Sex Differences in Physiology and Metabolism, Biology of Aging, Environmental Effects on Development, Health and Disease, Genes in Testis and Ovary Development, Sex Chromosomes DoSAGE Effects, and Sexual Dimorphism in the Brain. The keynote lecturers are David Skuse, M.D., F.R.C.P., from Institute of Child Health London, England (Genetic Influences Upon Sex Differences in Vulnerability to Disorders of Social Cognition), Eric Vilain, Ph.D., from University of California, Los Angeles, CA (Gene DoSAGE in Sexual Development), and Donald W. Pfaff, Ph.D., from Rockefeller University, New York, NY (Sex Hormone and Gender Effects on General Arousal Systems in The Brain; Application to Questions of Women's Health).

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2005 SWHR releases the National Institutes of Health: Intramural and Extramural Support for Research on Sex Differences or “CRISP report,” a groundbreaking report that shows that NIH’s support of research on biological health differences between women and men is lower than the growing evidence of the importance of sex differences. It also demonstrates that the institutes with the largest budgets appear to be supporting the least amount of sex differences research.

2005 SWHR holds sixth annual SAGE Conference. Featured topics include: Sex Differences in Mental Health, from Genes to Behavior, Molecular, Genetic and Behavioral Basis of Drug Addiction, Chromosome Disorders, Epigenetics and Disease, Sex and the Brain, and Sex Differences in Metabolism and Energy Homeostasis. The keynote lecturers are Arthur Arnold, Ph.D., from University of California, Los Angeles, CA (Genetic Determinants of Brain Sexual Differentiation) and Moshe Szyf, Ph.D., from University of Montreal, Montreal, QC (Epigenetic Programming by Maternal Behavior). 

2005 RAISE Project (Recognition of the Achievements of Women In Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine) designed to increase the status of women scientists through enhanced recognition.

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2006 SWHR holds seventh annual SAGE Conference in conjunction with the Workshop on “Steroid Hormones and Brain Function.” Topics include: X Chromosome and Sexual Differentiation, Genes, Transmitters and Sexual Experience, Neurobiology of Anabolic-Androgenic Steroid, Determination of Sex: Gonads vs. the Brain, Estrogens and Sex Differences in Immunity, Fetal Antecedents to Neuropsychiatric Disorders, and Progesterone Effects on Reward: Possible Role on Drug Addiction.

2006 SWHR establishes the Organization for the Study of Sex Differences (OSSD). OSSD is a scientific membership society that advances the study of sex differences and implications for health and disease.

2006 “Society for Women’s Health Research Medtronic Prize for Scientific Contributions to Women’s Health” established. The annual $75,000 prize recognizes a woman scientist or engineer for her contributions to women’s health. It encourages women scientists and engineers to research issues uniquely related to women’s health and rewards women who have devoted a significant part of their careers to this area.

SWHR publishes its first book for consumers, The Savvy Woman Patient: How and Why Sex Differences Impact Your Health. The book is a guide to health problems and treatments unique to women of all ages and focuses on how women’s health differs from men’s.

2006 Heart Disease Education Analysis Research and Treatment (HEART) Act first introduced in Congress. This legislation expands the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s WISEWOMAN (Well-Integrated Screening and Evaluation for Women Across the Nation) program to all 50 states. The program improves screening for low-income women at risk for heart disease and stroke and helps them live healthier lifestyles. The bill also requires FDA to report safety and effectiveness data by gender, race and ethnicity in order to shed new light on how drugs work among specific populations.

2006 SWHR, in partnership with WomenHeart and the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues, releases “The 10 Q Report: Advancing Women’s Heart Health Through Improved Research, Diagnosis and Treatment.” The report identifies the top 10 unanswered questions related to the development, diagnosis and treatment of heart disease in women.

2006 SWHR and FDA OWH convene a thought-leaders workshop “Sex Differences and the FDA Critical Path Initiative” to determine the best approaches to advance research efforts on sex and gender differences and ways to  better understand the contribution that knowledge of sex differences can make to improve or enhance therapeutic product development.

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2007 SWHR ISIS Network on Musculoskeletal Health launches. 

2007 SWHR successfully advocates with Congress and the media to restore FDA OWH’s full FY07 budget after it was found that the office was at risk to lose a substantial amount of its funding. OWH’s FY08 budget increased by $1 million.

2007 SWHR’s advocacy efforts aid the passage of the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act of 2007.

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2008 HEART Act passes the House of Representatives.

2008 SWHR and the National Institute of Mental Health in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, sponsor a conference on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in Women Returning from Combat.

2008 1st Bi-annual “What a Difference an X Makes” Conference.

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2009 SWHR ISIS Network on Cardiovascular Disease launches.

2009 SWHR partners with the Lynn Goddess Foundation to host “Women and Stroke: The X Factor” on Capitol Hill.

2009 SWHR President Phyllis Greenberger participates in Senate Meeting regarding advancing women’s health in healthcare reform.

2009 SWHR President Phyllis Greenberger participates in House of Representatives roundtable discussions regarding gaps in female veterans’ health care and ways to eliminate those gaps. And later testifies before the House Committee on Veterans Affairs on behalf of this important topic (click here to read her testimony).

2009 Senate and House of Representatives pass health care reform bills (The Affordable Health Care for America Act, H.R. 3962), both include WHOA provisions.

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2010 On March 23, President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590) into law, which included WHOA as a provision, marking a tremendous achievement for women’s health and women’s health research.

2010 2nd Annual "What a Difference an X Makes" Conference.

2010 SWHR hosts the premiere of the film, Hot Flash Havoc, a film of menopausal proportions.

2010 IOM report, "Women’s Health Research: Progress, Pitfalls, and Promise" recommends that all research be conducted and designed in a way that allows for the analysis of sex and minority differences.

2010 Biology of Sex Differences (BSD), the official journal of OSSD launches.

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2011 SWHR launches Fatigues to FabulousTM (F2F) campaign to aid women veterans.

2011 SWHR/Susan G. Komen Network for the Study of Exercise and Breast Cancer launches.

2011 SWHR and WomenHeart release the "2011 10Q Report: Advancing Women's Heart Health through Improved Research, Diagnosis and Treatment," calling Congress, administration officials, researchers, health care providers, and women to action.

2011 3rd Annual "What a Difference an X Makes" Conference, with a focus on female veterans.

2011 SWHR and the FDA Office of Women's Health host a two-day conference entitled, "Dialogues on Diversifying Clinical Trials: Successful Strategies for Engaging Women and Minorities," to share successful practices in recruitment, retention and analysis of women and minorities in clinical trials.

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2012 Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act (FDASIA) signed into law, requiring FDA to provide a special report and accounting of trials by sex, race, and ethnicity.

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Other Science Meetings

  • December 9, 1995 Gender Based Biology
  • July 31, 1996 Pharmacology
  • February 15, 1997 Pharmacology Issues Related to Gender
  • March 19, 2004 Detecting Sex differences in Drug Testing and Post Marketing Surveillance
  • October 20, 2004 Sex Differences in Cardiovascular Disease
  • June 19-22, 2005 Organ and Stem Cell Regeneration Technologies
  • November 2–4, 2005 Workshop on Sex and Gender Differences in Obesity and Cardiovascular Disease
  • April 9-12, 2006 Organ and Stem Cell Regeneration Technologies

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Policy Briefings

  • June 29, 1995 Women’s Health and Clinical Trials
  • September 15, 1995 Breast Cancer Treatment Options
  • March 8, 1997 A Guide to Research Funding: Advances in Women’s Health
  • May 29, 1997 Product Liability Reform
  • June 9, 1997 Older Women’s Health
  • October 16, 1997 Women’s Health and Clinical Trials
  • March 19, 1999 Status Report on Women’s Health and Autoimmune Diseases
  • December 15, 1999 Covering the Ancillary Cost of Clinical Research
  • April 11, 2000 Calcium: News You Can Use
  • April 13, 2000 Research at Risk? What You Should Know about Medicare Reform Legislation and the Impact on Biomedical and Health Care Research.
  • May 10, 2000 Women and the Impact of Heart Disease
  • September 6, 2001 Re-Importation and Personal Use Legislation: Will a New System Result in Savings or Additional Health Risks?

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Public Education Campaigns

Fatigues to FabulousTM (F2F) is a national campaign established to honor and support the 1.8 million American women veterans by raising awareness about the issues affecting military women and by providing funds for needed services and medical research.

Sex Brain Body: Make the Connection is a campaign to educate women about their sexual health and the important role the brain plays in sexual desire.

Know My Bones goal is to encourage women living with osteoporosis to prioritize their bone health and seek information that will empower them to fight the disease.

Partnership to End Cervical Cancer’s mission is to ensure the inclusion of vaccination to prevent cervical cancer, along with screening, as part of routine preventive health care for all women in the United States.

Her Healthy Life campaign is designed to let women know about easy steps they can take on their own to improve their health. By eating right, exercising and not smoking, you can reduce your risk for many diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease and lung cancer.  

HerCancer.com provides valuable information about important differences between women and men in lung cancer and tobacco addiction, as well as what women should know about medical research.

Life ABC is designed to raise awareness of the risk of recurrence for women with early breast cancer and encourage an ongoing dialogue about this risk between these women and their health care professionals.

Is It A Migraine? Provides information regarding what every woman should know about migraine.

Some Things Only a Woman Can Do provides women with accurate information about volunteering for medical research.

The Key is D educates Americans, especially postmenopausal women, about the importance of vitamin D to maintain healthy bones. A new consumer survey commissioned by SWHR shows that many women over the age of 50 may not fully understand the importance of vitamin D to bone health.

Living Well with Arthritis documents a number of gender-specific facts about how all forms of arthritis affect women.

Talk IBS Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is an often misunderstood, misdiagnosed, and under-treated condition that affects up to 20%, or 1 in 5 Americans. Talk IBS is designed to educate women about this real medical condition, its symptoms, real options for health care and management of IBS with constipation, and to arm them with tools to work with their doctor to get proper diagnosis and care sooner.

Big 3 for Baby and Me Soccer star and new mom Mia Hamm teams up with SWHR to remind women about three nutrients that are vital to the health of their babies: folic acid, calcium with vitamin D and DHA omega-3, an essential fatty acid and building block of infant nutrition that may promote a healthy pregnancy and prevent late preterm birth.

Girl Talk is a program with The Century Council, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to fighting drunk driving and underage drinking. Girl Talk educates teenage girls about the dangers of underage drinking and the specific risks facing teenage girls.

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