Jill Biden said the research conducted through the new Sprint for Women’s Health initiative will be “life-changing.” (Credit: Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons)

The White House is taking a huge step to bring women’s health to the forefront.

Jill Biden announced this month a commitment to fund $100 million over the next year toward transformative research and development in women’s health. The initiative, called Sprint for Women’s Health, is being launched under the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, a federal funding agency created in 2022 to support high-impact research to “drive biomedical and health breakthroughs,” according to its website.

“We will build a health care system that puts women and their lived experiences at its center,” Biden said Wednesday during a press briefing. “Where no woman or girl has to hear that ‘it’s all in your head,’ or, ‘it’s just stress.’ Where women aren’t just an after-thought, but a first-thought. Where women don’t just survive with chronic conditions, but lead long and healthy lives.”

Women’s health research has been historically underfunded, Biden said, and studies have often left out women. A 2022 study published in the National Library of Medicine found that women, specifically women of color, are often underrepresented and even excluded in clinical trials — including vaccine trials, NIH-supported trials and others. This underrepresentation limits biological understanding, and contributes to health inequalities and social injustice, according to the study.

There are also large gaps in research focusing on diseases that affect women, Biden added. Another study published last year in the National Institutes of Health found that many Black breast and ovarian cancer patients believe that Black patients are underrepresented in cancer research, which negatively impacted their own care. Anxiety, migraines, endometriosis and other conditions that disproportionately affect women also attract much less funding, a Nature article highlighted.

This new initiative could change that by fundamentally changing the nation’s approach to women’s health research, Biden said. The White House launched its initiative on women’s health research last November to close research gaps and improve women’s health. Following the latest announcement, specific topics developed by ARPA-H’s program managers will be announced in the near future. The organization will also hold its virtual Proposers’ Day on March 6 to discuss funding opportunities for teams funded under ARPA-H. 

The research conducted through this new effort will be “life changing” for women, Biden said.

“We are going to invest in your discoveries early, when private companies may not be willing to take the risk,” Biden said. “We are going to give women’s health researchers and startups the funding they need to grow and help them bring ideas to market – and to the women who need them most.”