discoveries magazine

Women’s Health Research Draws First Lady’s Attention

First lady Jill Biden during a December visit to Cedars-Sinai.

First lady Jill Biden highlighted the new White House Initiative on Women's Health Research during a December visit to Cedars-Sinai.

Biden toured the Women's Guild Simulation Center for Advanced Clinical Skills and research laboratories at the Barbra Streisand Women's Heart Center and met with investigators conducting groundbreaking work in women's heart health.

Biden was accompanied by U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra; U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu and his wife, Betty Lieu; and journalist Maria Shriver.

"Women deserve better today," Biden said. "Through this new White House initiative, we will help women's health research catch up to where it should have been all along."

While women comprise half the world's population, most medical research historically has been focused on men.

Biden was hosted by C. Noel Bairey Merz, MD, director of the Barbra Streisand Women's Heart Center in the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai and the Irwin and Sheila Allen Chair in Women's Heart Research. The women's heart center plays a leading role in identifying women’s heart disease, developing new diagnostic tools and advancing specialized cardiac care for women.

Biden reviewed women's heart and brain advanced imaging research from the Cedars-Sinai Biomedical Imaging Research Institute, which was presented by Martha Gulati, MD, the Anita Dann Friedman Chair in Women's Cardiovascular Medicine and Research; and Janet Wei, MD, the Erika J. Glazer Chair in Women's Cardiovascular Research, Education and Innovation. Biden also visited the Van Eyk Laboratory in the Smidt Heart Institute, where Jennifer Van Eyk, PhD, who holds the Erika J. Glazer Chair in Women’s Heart Health, and her team study the role of sex differences in proteomics in heart disease.

Research by Bairey Merz and her team has deepened the understanding that a second X chromosome influences development of heart disease. This knowledge informs more tailored treatments for women who are at risk for have cardiac conditions.

Bairey Merz also co-leads Cedars-Sinai's Center for Research in Women's Health Science, which seeks to understand how diseases affect women differently than men. The center's goal is to increase health equity by conducting research on a range of health topics affecting women, including autoimmune conditions, cancer, cardiovascular disease, maternal-fetal medicine, neurology, OB-GYN and reproductive health, and orthopedics.