Los Angeles, CA


Thank you, Dr. Bairey Merz. And thank you and Mr. Priselac for your warm welcome here to Cedars-Sinai, and for your work to advance women’s health.

Representative Lieu, Betty, thank you for taking the time to be a part of this effort.

If you ask any woman in America about her health care, she likely 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 don’t look like a man’s heart attack, even as heart disease is the leading cause of death among women.

She’s the woman going through menopause, who visits with her doctor and leaves with more questions than answers, even though half the country will go through menopause at some point in their lives.

Earlier this year, Maria Shriver, on behalf of all of these women, approached me about the need for an effort, inside and outside government, to close the research gaps in women’s health that have persisted for far too long. This resonated with me.

In 1993, when four of my friends were diagnosed with breast cancer, I created the Biden Breast Health Initiative, to raise awareness about women’s health at a time when the subject was still sometimes considered taboo. We’ve come a long way since then, but we haven’t made enough progress.

Maria – thank you for your tireless advocacy for this initiative, and for all that you do to make our nation stronger and healthier.

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 limited attention – like those debilitating migraines and those undiagnosed heart attacks.

Because of these gaps, we understand far too little about these conditions, and how to help the millions of women who struggle with them.

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

When I talked to Joe about this issue a few months ago, he listened. And then he took action. This is what Joe does – he learns about a problem, and then he gets to work tackling it.

That’s why, last month, we launched the White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research.

This initiative is designed to fundamentally change how our nation conducts and funds research on women’s health.

Joe issued a presidential memorandum asking federal agencies to look at their programs – at how they’re thinking of women and their health. And he gave them a deadline.

On December 28th, the White House will review their recommendations on how to make the policy changes necessary to advance women’s health research.

President Biden named a world-renowned women’s health researcher, Dr. Carolyn Mazure, to lead this groundbreaking effort. Dr. Mazure has joined us from the Yale University School of Medicine.

Like many of you in this room, she has heard that research may cost more to include women, that it can be harder to recruit women for research studies, or that studying women may not apply to my work.

But the researchers and doctors here at Cedars-Sinai show us what it looks like to invest in women’s health – to build a medical world that meets the needs of everyone.

Earlier, we toured labs where researchers are finding new ways to help women with heart disease – a condition that is often thought of as a man’s disease, even though it affects men and women in roughly equal numbers. And we heard about the amazing progress that can happen when we focus on women. And you told me that in some ways, the work has only just begun. There’s so much more we can do – so much more to discover.

That’s why we have to start now – because women deserve better, today.

And through this new White House initiative, we will help women’s health research catch up to where it should have been all along. We will write new stories about women’s health care. Ones where women leave doctors’ offices with more answers than questions. Ones where no woman or girl has to hear that “it’s all in your head,” “it’s just stress,” or “it’s just menopause.”

Now, I’d like to bring up someone who can tell you more about what the Administration is doing as part of this first step of the initiative.

Please help me welcome an amazing partner in this work, Secretary Becerra.


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