Office of Research on Women's Health
Cancer illustration

About ORWH


The Office of Research on Women's Health (ORWH) serves as a focal point for women's health research at the NIH. Established in September 1990 within the Office of the Director. ORWH

  • Coordinates and serves as a focal point for women's health research funded by the NIH
  • Promotes, stimulates, and supports efforts to improve the health of women through biomedical and behavioral research on the roles of sex (biological characteristics of being female or male) and gender (social influences based on sex) in health and disease
  • 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
  • Advises the NIH Director and staff on matters relating to research on women's health
  • Strengthens and enhances research related to diseases, disorders, and conditions that affect women
  • Ensures that research conducted and supported by NIH adequately addresses issues regarding women's health
  • Ensures that women are appropriately represented in biomedical and biobehavioral research studies supported by NIH;
  • Develops opportunities for and supports recruitment, retention, re-entry, and advancement of women in biomedical careers; and
  • 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.

Research on Women’s Health for the 21st Century

ORWH, in collaboration with the NIH and the extramural scientific and public advocacy communities, published a research report, Agenda for Research on Women’s Health for the 21st Century, which is used to establish research priorities for each year.

View Reports

ORWH continues to enhance, stimulate, fund, and co-fund meritorious research, sponsor research planning conferences on women’s health, and recommend and develop new research initiative through partnerships with the NIH Institute and Centers.

Each year, the ORWH considers the continuing gaps in knowledge from the Agenda or newly emerging scientific concepts to determine specific areas of research priorities for new initiatives or increased focus.

Further Information: Research Section


Interdisciplinary Initiatives

ORWH developed, implemented, and funded new and innovative interdisciplinary research enters and interdisciplinary training programs

Purpose: With increasing understanding of the inter-relatedness and complexity of disease, the nature of scientific investigation is shifting to a multi-disciplinary collaborative approach. Advances in women’s health can be better achieved by promoting partnerships in cross-disciplinary research.


  • Benefits both women’s and men’s health through sex and gender research
  • Interdisciplinary scientific collaboration
  • Support for young investigators in a mentored environment to become independent investigators doing research in women’s health.


Interdisciplinary Research in Action

ORWH led the development and implementation of two major initiatives. Both provide innovative approaches to advancing research on the role of sex and gender related health effects.

Intramural Program on Research on Women’s Health (IPRWH):

ORWH recently began a new trans-NIH Interdisciplinary collaboration on women’s health and sex/gender comparison.

The Women’s Health Special Interest Group sponsors monthly lectures by NIH and university researchers.


  • Encourages scientific exchanges and multi-institute collaboration
  • Sharing of laboratory resources and equipment
  • Develop a network to foster brainstorming of ideas for collaborations

Further Information: Please visit Intramural Section


NIH Mandate for the Inclusion of Women and Minorities in Clinical Research

ORWH leads NIH efforts in monitoring adherence to the NIH policy on the inclusion of women and minorities in clinical research studies.

ORWH Roles

  • Convenes a trans-NIH committee that ensures that the implementation of the inclusion policy is uniform across NIH.
  • Working in collaboration with this committee, ORWH coordinates data collection and reporting methodologies to track numbers of women, men, and minorities in NIH-supported research studies.

These data are generated through a computerized system that provides aggregate data to document adherence to the policy and the number of women, minorities and non-minority men included in all clinical research studies as well as those enrolled in Phase III clinical trials. Analyses of NIH-wide demographic data on subjects enrolled in clinical research studies show that substantial numbers of both women and minorities have been included as research subjects.

Further Information: Visit Inclusion section


Career Development for Women Scientists

Goal: Develop and support opportunities for recruitment, retention, re-entry, and advancement of women in biomedical careers


A report, Women in Biomedical Careers: Dynamics of Change, Strategies for the 21st Century, from an ORWH sponsored workshop to identify successful ways to overcome obstacles to research careers, continues to serve as the basis for ORWH activities to increase opportunities for women in biomedical careers.


  • Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health
  • Women’s Reproductive Health Research Career Development Centers
  • ORWH Re-entry program
  • ORWH/Office of Intramural Training and Education Programs

Further information: Visit Career Section


Seminar Series

The ORWH Women’s Health Seminar Series features nationally recognized leaders in women’s health research who present the latest information on topics important to women’s health.

Seminars are free and open to the public.

2005 Seminars Topics: Sleep Disorders, Depression, and Pain in Women

Seminar Flyer

Past Seminars Series events with available videocasts

ORWH-Supported Outreach Programs FY2007

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