Sex and Gender In Research

A patient’s biological sex and/or gender is often a neglected factor in biomedical research. Yet in order to understand differences in the emergence and progression of diseases and to develop suitable treatments, it is important for such research to take sex and gender differences into account. Considering sex and gender aspects adds a valuable dimension to research and makes sure that everyone gets the best medical treatment. 

Several funding agencies, such as the European Union or the DFG and also some bio/medical journals are required to integrate sex and gender aspects into research projects.

BIH Excellence Award for Sex and Gender Aspects in Health Research

With the aim to bring more visibility to sex and gender issues in translational research BIH announced the BIH Excellence Award for Sex and Gender Aspects in Health Research for the first time in 2017. It recognizes research excellence among renowned scientists working in the field of basic and/or clinical biomedical research with a focus on sex and gender aspects.


Below you can find links to initiatives and organizations dedicated to sex and gender in research.


Charité - Institut für Geschlechterforschung in der Medizin  

Das Ziel des Instituts für Geschlechtermedizin ist die systematische Untersuchung von Geschlechterunterschieden in Gesundheit und Krankheit, ihre Einführung in die Lehre und die Erarbeitung und Implementierung von geschlechtersensiblen Strategien in die Krankenversorgung.

Canadian Institute of Health

Here you can find tools from the Canadian Institute of Gender and Health to better integrate sex and gender into research by their Sex and Gender-Based Analysis (SGBA). Take a look at their action plan and learn how CIHR is meeting its commitments to SGBA.


Check out their new video:  Assessing Sex and Gender in Peer Review


A pilot transnational research policy initiative funded by the European Commission under the Science in Society work program of the seventh Framework Program (FP7), developed an Online IGAR ToolRecommendations for Integration of Gender Analysis into Research 

Gendered Innovations 

A program which aims to harness the creative power of gender and gender analysis for innovation and discovery. Read more here .

National Institutes of Health 

By instructing researchers to take sex and gender into account as they develop their research questions, design experiments, analyze data, and report results, NIH continues to deliver the kind of rigorous science that drives the medical advances we need. Take a look at their online course series on “ The Science of Sex & Gender in Human Health ” and learn more about method and techniques. 






Bei einigen Forschungsvorhaben kann die Berücksichtigung von Geschlechter- und Vielfältigkeitsdimensionen zur Vermeidung „blinder Flecken“ führen und damit die wissenschaftliche Qualität der Ergebnisse erhöhen. Daher sollte die Reflexion von Geschlecht und Vielfältigkeit Bestandteil der Vorbereitung eines jeden Forschungsprojekts sein und – wo relevant – im Antrag behandelt werden.

Nicht für jedes Projekt sind Geschlecht und Vielfältigkeit in der Forschung gleichermaßen relevant. Die Bedeutung dieser Dimensionen variiert je nach Forschungskontext, Thema und Methoden.

Checklisten, Beispiele und Begriffsklärungen finden Sie hier: Link


BIH endorses the Sex And Gender Equity in Research (SAGER) guidelines written by the Gender Policy Committee of the European Association of Science Editors. See the below infographic available for download.

See here for an article outlining the rationale for the SAGER guidelines and recommended use, published in Research Integrity and Peer Review, an international, open access, peer reviewed journal.

Heidari, S., Babor, T. F., De Castro, P., Tort, S., & Curno, M. (2016). Sex and gender equity in research: rationale for the SAGER guidelines and recommended use. Research Integrity and Peer Review1(1), 2.

Policy Review:  GENDERED INNOVATIONS 2: How Inclusive Analysis Contributes to Research and Innovation

Horizon 2020 was the first Framework programme to set gender as a cross-cutting issue, with one of the underpinning objectives being to integrate the gender dimension into research and innovation (R&I) content. The policy report produced by the EU funded H2020 expert group on ‘Gendered Innovations’ provides researchers and innovators with methodological tools for sex, gender and intersectional analysis. It also presents concrete case studies, showcasing projects funded under Horizon 2020 and addressing key research and innovation areas for Horizon Europe clusters, missions and partnerships. These include areas such as health, artificial intelligence and robotics, energy, transport, marine science and climate change, urban planning, agriculture, fair taxation and venture funding, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic.



[Translate to englisch:] Berlin Institut of Health

  • Sabine Oertelt-Prigione. (22.01.2019). The concerted effort to include sex and gender in (bio)medical Research. Available on Youtube here. 

Talk given by Prof. Sabine Oertelt Prigione in the context of the LIBRA ( workshop on "Sex and Gender in Research and Experimental Design".

  • Russ Altman and Londa Schiebinger. (23.02.2019) The Future of Everything with Russ Altman:"Institutions Must Add Gender Diversity in Their Ranks and in Research with guest Londa Schiebinger" Available on Soundcloud here

Londa Schiebinger, professor of the history of science at Stanford School of Humanities and Sciences, explores the role of sex and gender in science. She explains why diverse research teams have better outcomes and why technologists must consider women from the outset.

  •  Chloe Bird, Ph.D. (06.06.2019) Advancing Understanding of Sex & Gender Influences on Health & DiseaseAvailable on Youtube here.

Chloe Bird, Ph.D., Senior Advisor to the Director of the NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH), talks about how increasing our understanding of sex and gender influences on health and disease is critical to advancing women’s health research and improving the health of everyone. Using data from the USA. Dr. Bird clarifies the distinction between sex and gender and explores the intersection of internal, biological factors and external, contextual factors that affect health and disease across a woman’s life course. This 22-minute lecture serves as an excellent introduction to core principles and a conceptual framework that guide ORWH’s programs and initiatives to advance science for the health of women.


[Translate to englisch:] Berlin Health Innovations

  1. General Overview Sex and Gender Aspects in (Biomedical) Research

    • Biology of Sex Differences considers manuscripts on all aspects of the effects of sex on biology and disease. Sex has profound effects on physiology and the susceptibility to disease. The function of cells and organs depends on their sex, determined by the interplay among the genome and biological and social environments. The study of sex differences is a discipline in itself, with its own concepts and methods that apply across tissues. - Link
    • Korsvik, TR, Rustad, LM (2018) What is the gender dimension in research: case studies in interdisciplinary research - Link
    • GenderMed-Wiki: GenderMed-Wiki dient als Austausch- und Wissensplattform zu Themen rund um Geschlecht und Medizin. Access here (DE)
    • Science Open specific search engine for articles relating to sex and gender in medicine. Access here (EN)
    • Tannenbaum, C., Ellis, R.P., Eyssel, F. et al. Sex and gender analysis improves science and engineering. Nature 575, 137–146 (2019). ------ Link 
    • Edition on '' Advancing Women in Science, Medicine and Public Health '' The Lancet, Volum 393, number 10171, p493-610, e6-e28; Especially article: Measurement and meaning: reporting sex in health research, P497-499 - Link 
  2. Animal Research / Tierforschung

    • Shansky, Rebecca M. Are hormones a “female problem” for animal research? Science 364, Issue 6442, 825-826. - Link 

  3. Gender Medicine

    • Pawlowski, A. The invisible woman? The challenge at the doctor's office every woman needs to know about. Today. - Link

    • Zucker, I., Prendergast, B.J. Sex differences in pharmacokinetics predict adverse drug reactions in women. Biol Sex Differ 11, 32 (2020). - Link 

    • Voskuhl, R.R., Patel, K., Paul, F. et al. Sex differences in brain atrophy in multiple sclerosis. Biol Sex Differ 11, 49 (2020). - Link 

  4. Digital Medicine

    • Cirillo, D., Catuara-Solarz, S., Morey, C. et al. Sex and gender differences and biases in artificial intelligence for biomedicine and healthcare. npj Digit. Med. 3, 81 (2020). - Link
  5. Genomics

    • Oertelt-Prigione, S., Mariman, E. The impact of sex differences on genomic research. The International Journal of Biochemistry & Cell Biology. Volume 124, July 2020, 105774. - Link 


      Olney, K.C., Brotman, S.M., Andrews, J.P. et al. Reference genome and transcriptome informed by the sex chromosome complement of the sample increase ability to detect sex differences in gene expression from RNA-Seq data. Biol Sex Differ 11, 42 (2020). - Link