The White House

Thank you all for joining us.

If you ask any woman in America about her health care, she probably has a story to tell. You know her.

She’s the woman who gets debilitating migraines, but doesn’t know why and can’t find treatment options that work for her.

She’s the woman whose heart disease isn’t recognized because her symptoms are considered non-cardiac, and the traditional testing used to diagnose a heart attack was developed based on men.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death among women, and yet historically it’s been characterized as mostly a man’s disease.

She’s the woman going through menopause, who visits with her doctor and leaves with more questions than answers.

Every woman – half of the population – will be affected by menopause, and yet there’s a stunning lack of information about how to manage and treat its symptoms, which can be debilitating.

Earlier this year, Maria Shriver, the former First Lady of California and one of our country’s most dedicated women’s health advocates, met with me and raised the need for an effort, inside and outside government, to close the research gaps in women’s health that have persisted far too long.

I’ve worked on women’s health since 1993 when I created the Biden Breast Health Initiative, so what Maria was sharing immediately resonated.

Research on women’s health has been underfunded for decades, and many conditions that mostly or only affect women, or affect women differently, have received little to no attention.

Because of these gaps, we know far too little about how to manage and treat conditions like endometriosis, and autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.

These gaps are even greater for communities that have historically been excluded from research – including women of color and women with disabilities.

When I brought this issue to my husband, Joe, a few months ago, he listened. And then he took action. This is what he does – he learns about a problem and then he gets to work tackling it. He doesn’t waste any time.

That’s why today we’re announcing the launch of the first-ever White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research.

We have a clear goal: to fundamentally change how we approach and fund women’s health research.

We’ve hired a world-renowned women’s health researcher, Dr. Carolyn Mazure, to lead this groundbreaking effort, with the support of Jen Klein, Director of the Gender Policy Council.

Maria, thank you for bringing this urgent issue to our attention. Your leadership outside of government will be essential in this effort – advising me and mobilizing the private and philanthropic communities. I’m grateful to call you a friend and partner.


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