The role of sex and gender differences in precision medicine: the work of the Women’s Brain Project

Many diseases differ between men and women in terms of prevalence and incidence, reported symptoms, the diagnostic process, disease progression, and response to treatment. Such differences have been reported and observed in various disease groups including Alzheimer and other dementias,1 depressive disorders,2 oncology,3 and cardiology.4

The Women’s Brain Project (WBP) is a Swiss-based non-profit organization, mostly composed of scientists hailing from various scientific disciplines, which studies sex and gender determinants of health. Its goal is to study and identify how sex and gender factors impact diseases, diagnostics, drug and novel technologies development, and to achieve precision medicine for sustainable and inclusive healthcare. In fact, an increasing volume of scientific evidence is showing that sex and gender differences have major implications in the way we understand and study diseases, develop medical treatments, and design novel technology for medical applications. Our group therefore advocates for the proper consideration of both biological (sex) as well as socio-cultural (gender) aspects at all levels of healthcare, from basic research to novel technologies. In the case of cardiovascular disease, the importance of sex and gender differences for healthcare providers have been both acknowledged and emphasized for nearly a decade.5–7 Particularly in relation to coronary artery disease (CAD), differences between women and men have been observed in symptom presentation, response to pharmacological treatment and mortality.

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