Northwestern scientists talk on ‘60 Minutes’ about importance of using female cells and animals in research

May 28, 2014 | by Marla Paul

CHICAGO --- Teresa Woodruff, the director of the Women's Health Research Institute (WHRI) at Northwestern Medicine, was a driving force behind the new National Institutes of Health (NIH) policy to include females -- from cells to animals -- in preclinical research.

Woodruff and the WHRI’s leadership council have been actively advocating for sex inclusion in all levels of research in the scientific literature, including a call to action in the journal Nature, to NIH and Congress for several years.  

Woodruff and Northwestern Medicine surgeon Melina Kibbe, M.D., appeared in February on a “60 Minutes” segment  -- which re-aired Sunday -- about the problem of not including females in research studies. Woodruff had encouraged Kibbe to start including female animals in her vascular research. Kibbe discovered a critical difference between female and male rats, which may be important to human health.

“The Colbert Report” also satirized the issue using a "60 Minutes" clip of Lesley Stahl and Melina Kibbe last week.

During the past few months, Woodruff and colleagues sent a letter to Francis Collins, the NIH director, on this issue; published two articles, one in Endocrinology and the other in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and have provided testimony for the Congressional record on this topic.

"When you only use one sex in animals and cells in the earliest stage of research, you get incomplete information that often only applies to one sex," Woodruff said. “Women and men have been negatively affected by that myopic view. The new policy is an important change in the way all NIH-funded research will be done."

More on Woodruff's role is here:

Here is the 60 Minutes segment with two extra web clips featuring Woodruff and Kibbe.

The two extra web clips with Woodruff and Kibbe are: 

Sex Differences in Medical Research and Routine Lunch Sparks an Epiphany. 

Here is the announcement by Francis Collins, director of NIH.

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