Science Market Update

Scientists Address Gender Biases in Life Science Research at U. Utah

Posted by Jennifer Nieuwkerk on Fri, Sep 26, 2014

The National Institutes of Health have recently been making a push for life science researchers across the country to address gender biases in their studies. In conjunction with these efforts, the NIH announced this September that it will give out $10.1 million in grants to more than 80 scientists studying a range of subjects, as long as the researchers agree to include females in their studies.

“It’s an early first step we’re taking to encourage people to see the value of studying sex as a biological variable,” said Dr. Janine Austin Clayton, associate director for women’s health research at the NIH. “What we are after is to transform how people think about science and therefore transform how science is done.”

Traditionally, life science researchers focus their studies on male test subjects because they believe females’ menstrual cycles are a time-consuming and expensive variable. As a result of the dependence on male animals alone, Dr. Clayton said, “We literally know less about every aspect of female biology compared to male biology.”

Researchers at the University of Utah are on board with Dr. Clayton and seek to address the gender biases inherent in life science research with a study that focuses on sex differences in migraine headaches. Dr. C.K. Brennan, a professor in the neurology department at the University of Utah, specializes in optical and electrophysiological investigations of migraine headaches as well as derangements of brain excitability, especially cortical spreading depression (CSD).


Life science researcher Dr. Brennan

Dr. Brennan

Image courtesy of University of Utah


“Sex differences are the elephant in the room,” Dr. Brennan said. “You want to have both male and female animals, because something that shows up differently in males and females might be a clue to how the disease works.”

Although he admits that using female animals in studies drives up the cost of research, he says it’s important for life science research to include both male and female subjects. It is especially important for females to be included in Dr. Brennan’s research because two-thirds of migraine sufferers are women, and hormonal fluctuations based on the menstrual cycle seem to have an effect on the onset of migraines. Dr. Brennan said he would use his NIH grant to include female animals in his research and double the number of experiments.

The University of Utah receives a significant number of grants in addition to this recent NIH funding, making the University of Utah an attractive market for lab suppliers interested in marketing their products to well-funded researchers. Consider the following life science funding statistics for the University of Utah:

  • In 2012, the university’s life science R&D expenditures were ranked 47th in the country at $269.5 million.
  • In 2013, the University of Utah was ranked 41st for NIH funding, having received $134.1 million.
  • As of September, the University of Utah has received $121.2 million from the National Institutes of Health for the year 2014.
  • In 2013, the National Science Foundation gave the University of Utah $37.2 million in research funding.
  • Construction on the $36.4 million Oral Health Education Building is scheduled to be completed in December 2014.
  • The school’s endowment was $670.4 million in 2012.


If you would like to market your biotech solutions to highly funded University of Utah life science researchers, Biotechnology Calendar, Inc. invites you to exhibit at the BioResearch Product Faire™ Event at the University of Utah on October 23rd, 2014.

To learn more about life science marketing events in other regions of the United States, please see the 2014 schedule and 2015 schedule. Click on the button below for a comprehensive list of research funding statistics and vendor show information for the University of Utah. 


Visit Here to Get Info About  the University of Utah Event

Tags: migraine research, University of Utah Salt Lake City

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