Senate HELP Committee Takes Steps to Improve LGBTQ Medical Research

Andrea Levario

Today, the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee took an important step to improve medical research about the health of LGBTQ Americans. The committee passed the bipartisan S. 2745, Advancing National Institutes of Health (NIH) Strategic Planning and Representation in Medical Research Act, by voice vote. 

This legislation requires the Director of the NIH, in consultation with its institute and center directors, to develop a six-year coordinated research strategy. The roadmap will outline the direction of biomedical research investments at NIH, including research priorities, consideration of disease burden and biological and social determinants of health.

Historically, LGBTQ people have been underrepresented in clinical trials and health research, a point highlighted in the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) landmark report issued in March 2011. That report emphasized the need for a solid evidence base from which researchers could advance the knowledge and understanding of this disparity population. This legislation will address that concern by encouraging the Director of NIH to improve research related to the health of sexual and gender minority populations by facilitating increased participation of such groups in NIH supported clinical research.

In order to advance and improve the health status of LGBTQ Americans, researchers must have access to valid and reliable data measures as soon as possible. The bill also sets a two-year timeline for the Secretary of Health and Human Services to make public and disseminate data measures for gathering health information about sexual and gender minorities.

Senate HELP Committee members Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Patty Murray (D-WA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) sponsored and worked together to move the bill through the committee. We will be partnering with them to ensure timely consideration on the Senate floor. 

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