After calling on Congress to fund women's health, Biden directs agencies to boost R&D

Ten days after asking Congress to fund women’s health research with $12 billion, President Joe Biden is doing what he can to boost investment via an executive order to expand and improve research on women’s health.

The orders come with 20 new actions across federal agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Services, under which the FDA sits. Within the actions is a $200 million National Institutes of Health initiative for fiscal year 2025 to fund new women’s health research. This would be the first step in the call to action issued by Biden at the State of the Union on March 8.

Through the orders, Biden has called on the agencies to integrate women’s health across the federal research portfolio to ensure the government is best using all of the funds to advance research. The executive order also calls on the Office of Management and Budget and the Gender Policy Council to determine gaps in federal funding for women’s health research.

“Agencies will take action to ensure women’s health is being considered at every step in the research process—from the applications that prospective grantees submit to the way that they report on grant implementation,” the White House said in a fact sheet issued Monday.

The president also directed federal agencies to prioritize investing in women’s health research, specifically the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), which received $100 million in February for the “Sprint for Women’s Health.”

One key focus of the new orders is on women’s midlife health, including health issues that are more likely to occur after menopause, like rheumatoid arthritis, heart attack and osteoporosis.

The FDA has specifically been asked to help address gaps in research and the availability of products that address conditions that primarily impact women, or for conditions that impact women differently. The agency will also provide industry guidance on the inclusion of women in clinical trials and reach out to stakeholders to discuss new opportunities to advance women’s health.

The NIH has pledged to up funding of the Small Business Innovation Research Program and the Small Business Technology Transfer Program by 50% to support smaller companies engaged in R&D on women’s health.

Another part of the order addresses the standardization of data collection that could help researchers share and combine datasets, promote interoperability and improve accuracy of data related to women’s health.