WASHINGTON — The Biden administration announced an initiative on Monday that will drastically improve how the federal government funds and approaches women’s health research.

The White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research addresses a fundamental problem in the United States: women have been “understudied and underrepresented in health research for far too long,” according to a statement from the White House.   

Women’s health research is also consistently underfunded and marginalizes the health risks and experiences of women of color and transgender people.

“Every woman I know has a story about leaving her doctor’s office with more questions than answers. Not because our doctors are withholding information, but because there’s just not enough research yet on how to best manage and treat even common women’s health conditions. In 2023, that is unacceptable,” First Lady Jill Biden, who will co-lead the initiative, said in a statement on Monday. “Our new White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research will help change that by identifying bold solutions to uncover the answers that every woman and her family deserves.”

The initiative, chaired by Yale School of Medicine professor Dr. Carolyn Mazure, tasks executive departments and agencies across the federal government with creating a set of “concrete actions” within 45 days which the administration can use to improve how research on women’s health is conducted, with a focus on addressing health disparities and inequities.

Initiative members must also set “priority areas of focus,” such as research into heart attacks in women and menopause, and explore new public-private partnerships to engage private and philanthropic leaders to drive women’s health innovation.

“To achieve scientific breakthroughs and strengthen our ability to prevent, detect, and treat diseases, we have to be bold,” President Biden said in a statement.

He added that his administration will do everything it can to “close research gaps” in women’s health research. 

For organizations like the Society for Women’s Health Research, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting research on biological sex differences, the initiative represents a critically important moment in women’s health. 

“We know that women’s health has historically been under researched and underfunded, and we see the consequences of this every day, across the women’s health space – from cardiovascular disease to autoimmune diseases and conditions to neurological diseases,” said Lindsey Miltenberger, Chief Advocacy Officer at the Society for Women’s Health Research. “We are thrilled to see the administration prioritizing women’s health research and giving it the attention that it has deserved for decades.”