Message from the IGH Scientific Director: Dr. Cara Tannenbaum

As a physician-researcher it is a privilege and an honour to lead the Institute of Gender and Health (IGH) of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). Treating patients allows a firsthand experience of how research excellence leads to better health for men, women, boys, girls and gender diverse people. Daily I am reminded that to improve health even further, we need more scientific discoveries and treatments, and effective translation of knowledge to enhance health services and policies.

Building on the success of the Institute's first two Scientific Directors, Dr. Miriam Stewart and Dr. Joy Johnson, I am passionately committed to spearheading the principles of sex and gender-based analysis, partnering with like-minded individuals and organizations to achieve innovation, and championing the integration of sex and gender across all four of CIHR's research themes in order to promote the advancement of men and women's health throughout the lifespan. 

My vision is anchored in the belief that improving the health of Canadians starts with better science. Questioning why men and women experience different manifestations of disease, asking how gender and sex affect response to treatment, and investigating the effect of sex during basic science and pharmacological experiments represent powerful tools for scientific discovery.  When issues of sex and gender are ignored in the design, analysis, reporting and implementation of research studies, the full potential of innovations are under-realized. This tenet holds true for the majority of cell, tissue and animal research. It applies equally to sex-drug-gene interactions in the pharmacological domain. Nowhere is gender more relevant than in issues related to health behaviours, health care access, self-management of chronic disease, recreational and prescription drug use patterns, caregiving, work stress, and sexual, social and mental health.

A significant game changer in the coming years will be the ongoing development and dissemination of CIHR's new online training on the integration of sex and gender in health research, which will be tailored for scientists in different domains of research. Understanding how sex and gender influence biological and social mechanisms, and equipping scientists and peer reviewers with the necessary skillset to incorporate sex and gender into existing paradigms will have substantial impact. IGH's Strategy 2017 outlines the blueprint for implementing our goals of Innovation, Integration and Impact.

I invite all CIHR researchers and stakeholders to join with me in transforming health research through the integration of sex and gender. Together we can make a difference both nationally and internationally. I look forward to meeting you and hearing about your interests, sharing my vision of sex and gender in the evolving research and healthcare landscape, and strengthening IGH's position as the world's premier health research funding institute with a specific focus on gender, sex and health.

Cara Tannenbaum, Scientific Director, IGH

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