DEC 15, 2020 1:15 PM EST

Panel Topic: Sex as a Biological Variable (SABV)


Sex as a Biological Variable from Research to Clinical Practice
Virginia M. Miller, PhD, MBA
Sex as a biological variable is fundamental to individualized medicine.  The interactions of biological sex with sex hormones and environmental and psychosocial factors that influence biology contribute to sex differences in health and disease.  Thus, it is essential that basic and clinical research attends to biological sex in the design of studies, data collection, reporting and interpretation of results.  New information regarding mechanisms of sex differences in health and disease must be embedded into all aspects of medical training and curriculum in order to improve clinical outcomes.   The scientific and medical communities must remain vigilant in order to assure that research into mechanisms of sex differences continues, so that the next generation of researchers and care providers are knowledgeable of these differences and implement the findings to improve the health of the nation. 
Sample questions:
  • The NIH initiatives have contributed to bringing sex as a biological variable to the forefront of research.  What do you see as the next steps?  (answer:  discussion of accountability)
  • Is there a place for public and private partnerships to advance the science of sex differences in health and disease?
  • You mentioned that one of the significant challenges going forward is the education of the educators.  What are some concrete steps that can be taken to address this challenge? 
Mentoring to Address Sex as a Biological Variable
Karen Freund, MD, MPH
Mentorship is critical to ensure that all early stage investigators understand and adopt scientifically sound methodologies to address SABV in their research. I will explore three avenues of mentorship to achieve greater adoption of SABV through mentorship.
  1. Group seminars and peer mentorship programs, including “K clubs” and similar local programs can effectively demonstrate to all investigators the need and value for SABV in research, and provide examples of its success adoption and benefits to scientific outcomes. 
  2. Individual mentorship can help mentees with the specifics on their study aims, and methodology.
  3. Biostatistical mentors can assist in study methodologies for both exploratory and confirmatory analyses, and power calculations.  
Advancing SABV through mentorship requires mentor training to ensure that our mentor workforce is aware and has the skills to mentor and guide the research of their mentees to include SABV in their study designs and analyses.
Scholar Perspective on Adopting SABV in Research
Kedir Turi, PhD
Dr. Turi’s presentation will focus on how investigators can adopt and incorporate sex as a biological variable (SABV) in their research.
  • He will talk about how the BIRCWH program mentorship and scholar’s community helped him to adopt and incorporate SABV in his mentored research grant application.
  • He will explore how some research topics lend themselves to sex differences and will use the example of sex differences in asthma to illustrate this.
  • He will also use the specific case of sex differences in immune response to infection during childhood and its implication for asthma development to illustrate how sex differences can be incorporated using high dimensional data.