Biden to sign executive order to boost women's health research

Biden to Enhance Women’s Health Research with New Executive Order

President Joe Biden is set to sign an executive order on Monday. This order is focused on broadening research into women’s health care, including the improvement of data standards.

The president plans to unveil over 20 new initiatives and commitments from federal agencies. Among these is a significant $200 million investment in research at the National Institutes of Health. The White House has highlighted these efforts as an initial step towards establishing a “Fund on Women’s Health,” a proposal Biden urged Congress to support in his State of the Union address earlier this month.

Following an announcement last month by First Lady Jill Biden about $100 million in funding for women’s health, these executive actions represent a further commitment to this cause.

Carolyn Mazure, chair of the White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research, emphasized the unprecedented nature of this federal effort to drive innovation in women’s health. She pointed out that this initiative aims to ensure federally funded research benefits women more effectively, marking a significant opportunity for transformative change. Mazure highlighted the potential to enhance the health and well-being of women nationwide through these efforts.

Despite women constituting half of the population, Mazure noted that research into women’s health has historically received insufficient funding and attention.

She remarked on the considerable progress made over the last two decades, including breakthroughs in disorders affecting women and the increased inclusion of women in clinical trials. However, Mazure also acknowledged the existing gaps in our understanding of how to prevent, diagnose, and treat a wide range of health conditions in women. These conditions often present differently in women than in men and include diseases like heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as conditions unique to women, such as endometriosis and fibroids.

The initiative on women’s health research, launched by the president and the first lady in November, has been actively promoted by Jill Biden. She has led this effort by visiting research institutions across the country and engaging with women and health care innovators to discuss the need for a transformation in women’s health research.

Jen Klein, director of the White House Gender Policy Council, stated that these new announcements on women’s health research are in line with the president’s request for Congress to allocate $12 billion in new funding for this area. This includes the creation of a central fund for women’s health at the NIH, aimed at establishing a nationwide network focused on this subject.

The president is directing federal agencies to incorporate women’s health into their research agendas, prioritizing investment in research and innovation. This includes support for entities like the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) and the Small Business Innovation Research program. Klein explained that this initiative seeks to stimulate research on women’s midlife health issues, such as heart attacks, Alzheimer’s disease, and osteoporosis. It also aims to identify and address unmet needs in women’s health research by pinpointing gaps in federal funding and requiring agencies to report on their progress in enhancing women’s health.

The executive order is being signed amid a backdrop of widespread criticism following a recent Alabama Supreme Court ruling on in vitro fertilization treatments, which led to swift legislative action by state Republicans to safeguard the procedure.

Biden has consistently voiced his opposition to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling in 2022. Democrats have positioned reproductive rights as a key issue in their 2024 campaign strategies.