Questions and Answers About NIAID Women's Health Research

What types of women’s health research does NIAID currently fund?

NIAID conducts and supports a range of research relevant to women’s health in the Institute’s mission areas, from sexually transmitted diseases to HIV/AIDS to autoimmune disorders.

Here are a few of the projects that NIAID supports:

  • Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS) supports investigations of the impact of HIV infection on women in the United States.
  • Microbicide Trials Network (MTN) brings together international investigators and community and industry partners who are devoted to reducing the sexual transmission of HIV through the development and evaluation of products applied topically or administered orally, working within a unique infrastructure specifically designed to facilitate research required to support licensure of these products for widespread use.
  • Autoimmunity Centers of Excellence (ACEs) encourage and enable collaborative research—across scientific disciplines, across medical specialties, and between basic and clinical scientists—in the search for effective treatments for autoimmune diseases.
  • The Human Microbiome Project (HMP) aims to characterize the microbial communities found at several different sites on the human body, including nasal passages, oral cavities, skin, gastrointestinal tract, and urogenital tract, and to analyze the role of these microbes in human health and disease.

See NIAID Women's Health Research and Research by Topic for information on specific research areas.

What constitutes women’s health research?

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) created the women’s health research category in 1994 for annual budget reporting purposes and defines it as belonging to the following categories:

  • Single-sex studies on women
  • Research on diseases and conditions unique to women
  • Research on diseases and conditions more prevalent in women than in men, by a two-to-one ratio or more

In addition to the above categories, NIAID also considers projects with 50 percent or more female subjects as women’s health research.

See Gender-Specific Health Challenges Facing Women for more information.

NIAID accepts R01, investigator-initiated applications for women’s health research topics at any time.

How does NIAID treat projects that study diseases that affect both men and women but in different ways?

NIAID and the NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health include studies of gender differences in its portfolio of women’s health research.

How much money does NIAID spend on women’s health research?

Using NIAID’s definition of women’s health research, the total NIAID budget in Fiscal Year 2009 was $243 million.

Does NIAID support women’s health advocacy programs?

Yes. For example, the Women’s HIV Research Collaborative (WHRC) at the HIV/AIDS Network Coordination (HANC) brings together a diverse and growing group of individuals who are infected, uninfected, and affected by HIV. It focuses on advocating for HIV research with women living in the United States but operates with a comprehensive awareness of the potential for women in America to benefit from HIV research being conducted internationally.

What funding opportunities are available for women’s health research?

Researchers are always welcome to submit investigator-initiated R01 grant applications on topics relevant to women’s health. Additionally, researchers can respond to specific requests for applications issued by NIAID, which are available on the NIAID Funding Opportunities List.

NIAID supports extramural organizations that offer funding opportunities themselves:

In addition, NIAID co-funds the following funding opportunity with the NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health:

  • Advancing Novel Science in Women's Health Research (ANSWHR) promotes innovative interdisciplinary research that advances new concepts in women’s health research and the study of sex/gender differences. bridge funding to NIAID applicants, supporting meritorious research on women’s health and sex/gender-related submissions, who have just missed the NIH Institutes and Centers payline for funding.

What training and award opportunities are available for researchers who focus on women’s health?

Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health (BIRCWH), a research training program offered by the NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health and co-sponsored by NIAID, supports research career development of junior faculty members who has recently completed clinical training or postdoctoral fellowships and who are commencing basic research, translational research, clinical research, and/or health services research relevant to women’s health.

Researchers focusing on women’s health topics are also eligible for  Career Development (K) Awards and  Fellowship (F) Grants. Postdoctoral students who are taking care of a child or sick family member might also consider the Primary Caregiver Technical Assistance Supplements (PCTAS).

Whom can I contact if I have more questions about NIAID women’s health research efforts?

For questions about funding opportunities or grant applications, contact NIAID staff for help. For questions related to women’s health research at NIAID, contact Dr. Juliane Caviston and Jane Lockmuller

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