A few months ago, the National Institutes of Health — the government institute that funds $26.4 billion in biomedical research each year — called for equal representation for females in scientific research studies … female mice, that is.
Today, as we mark Women’s Equality Day, equality for mice (and human women) in scientific research might not be the first issue that springs to mind. But it is an important one.
Why? Because when scientists test new therapies for diseases such as Parkinson’s, there are several steps to make sure they are safe and effective in humans. And experiments in mice provide early clues for which therapies might help people with PD and which might not.
The problem is that men and women often have different reactions to medications. If we study only male mice, are we missing out on treatments that might help women with PD?
Yes. And solving this is just one part of the rationale behind next month’s PDF Women and Parkinson’s Conference in Florham Park, NJ, at which more than 30 women will gather to learn about gender differences in Parkinson’s disease.
In addition to research, women have other unique needs in PD related to medical care and support. Did you know, for example, that women:
- are underrepresented in clinical studies testing new treatments?
- are less likely to see a specialist who can provide the best care?
- experience the disease and its symptoms differently than men?
Next month, this group of women will learn about differences between men and women in PD, including sexuality and emotional health. They will gain the leadership skills they need to advocate for the specific needs of women with PD in their home communities.
Today, on Women’s Equality Day, PDF recognizes the urgent need for women to be included in research studies finding more effective treatments, to be able to access the right care, and to have a forum for sharing gender-specific concerns that arise when living with Parkinson’s.
PDF is also committed, by establishing this national initiative and empowering a group of grassroots advocates, to helping make it happen.
Are you a woman living with Parkinson’s disease? Do you know one? Applications are closed but we welcome your interest in learning more and getting involved.
Contact the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation at (800) 457-6676 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.pdf.org/womenpd.