Advancing Novel Science in Women's Health Research (ANSWHR) [R21]

Environmental Health Perspectives, September 2007 | Go to article overview

Advancing Novel Science in Women's Health Research (ANSWHR) [R21]


The Office of Research on Women's Health (ORWH), established in 1990 within the Office of the Director, National Institutes of Health (NIH), a) advises the NIH Director and staff on matters relating to research on women's health; b) strengthens and enhances research related to diseases, disorders, and conditions that affect women; c) ensures that research conducted and supported by NIH adequately addresses issues regarding women's health; d) ensures that women are appropriately represented in biomedical and biobehavioral research studies supported by NIH; e) develops opportunities for and supports recruitment, retention, reentry, and advancement of women in biomedical careers; and f) supports research on women's health issues. ORWH works in partnership with the NIH institutes and centers to ensure that women's health research is part of the scientific framework at NIH and throughout the scientific community.

The ORWH announces the publication of an investigator-initiated exploratory developmental program, using the R21 grant mechanism. This trans-NIH research program funding opportunity is called Advancing Novel Science in Women's Health Research (ANSWHR). Using the R21 grant mechanism, ORWH will fund meritorious women's health research and sex/gender research in scientific partnership with the NIH institutes and centers.

The overall purpose of ANSWHR is to stimulate and support innovative research that will advance new concepts in women's health research and the study of sex/gender differences. ORWH and its scientific partners across the NIH are interested particularly in encouraging extramural investigators to undertake new interdisciplinary research to advance studies on how sex and gender factors affect women's health.

During the past several years, research reports have clearly established the importance of studying issues specific to women and female-male differences in all areas of science from basic science studies of molecular genetics to studies of epidemiology, etiology, and prevention/treatment interventions. The scientific and clinical importance of analyzing data separately for females and males is becoming more and more evident.

Because ORWH is an office within the Office of the NIH Director and does not have "grantmaking authority," the partnership between ORWH and the NIH institutes and centers will be operationalized as follows:

Applications submitted to this Program Announcement Set-Aside (PAS) will be directed to the most appropriate NIH institute or center (called primary IC), based on scientific focus, by the Center for Scientific Review (CSR). Applications will then undergo standard NIH scientific review, using established Integrated Review Groups (IRG). After scientific review and institute/center council review/ approval, ORWH will provide funding for those grants selected for award. All pre-award requirements and the grant award notice will be handled by the primary IC. Scientific and grants management oversight will reside in the primary NIH institute or center for the duration of funding, with ORWH remaining actively involved in this PAS .

The scientific basis for the ANSWHR program derives from three main sources: 1) The NIH Research Priorities for Women's Health which are reviewed and published annually on the ORWH website and is available at: http://orwh.od.nih.gov/ research/priorities.html; 2) The report, Agenda for Research on Women's Health for the 21st Century, which was developed in collaboration with the NIH and the extramural scientific and public advocacy communities; and 3) The Institute of Medicine Report, "Exploring the Biological Contributions to Human Health, Does Sex Matter?" Detailed discussion of these sources follows.

FY 2007 NIH Research Priorities for Women's Health. Each year, the ad hoc Research Subcommittee of the Coordinating Committee on Research on Women's Health (CCRWH), composed of representatives from the NIH institutes and centers, considers continuing gaps in knowledge, and emerging scientific opportunities for current research priorities in women's health. …

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