The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Research in Women’s Health now functions under a mandate calling for the systematic inclusion of both female and male cells, animals, and human subjects in all types of research, so that sex as a biological variable is understood in health and disease. Sex-specific data can improve disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment as well as reduce inequities. Inclusion of women in research studies has modestly improved over the last 20 years, yet preclinical research is still primarily done using male animal models and male-derived cells, with the result that many conclusions are made based on incomplete and sex-biased data. There are important, yet poorly studied, sex differences in cardiometabolic disease. To begin to address these sex differences, the Center for Women’s Health Research at the University of Colorado held its inaugural National Conference, “Sex Differences Across the Lifespan: A Focus on Metabolism,” in September 2016 (firstname.lastname@example.org). Research to address the important goal of understanding key sex differences in cardiometabolic disease across the life span is lacking. The goal of this article is to discuss the current state of research addressing sex differences in cardiometabolic health across the life span, to outline critical research gaps that must be addressed in response to NIH mandates, and, importantly, to develop strategies to address sex as a biological variable to understand disease mechanisms as well as develop diagnostic and therapeutic modalities.
ASJC Scopus subject areas