Eliminating Gender Bias in Healthcare: Organ-on-a-Chip

Source: The Guardian
Figure 1. Percentage of female and male animals used in different research fields in 2009. Source: NCBI
Figure 2. Impact of sex on lung disease. Source: Harvard University

How does it work?

Fluid runs through tiny, thin, hollow channels that interconnect various cells and carefully expose them to drug treatments given by researchers. Mechanical forces can be used to mimic the physical movements of living organs, such as breathing motions for the lung-on-a-chip. The best part is that these chips are completely translucent — they let us see what we haven’t before. They give us a chance to see the inner workings of human organs.

OoC devices are the perfect candidate to study sex differences in biomedical research and drug development.

To unlock the potential of OoC in drug discovery and disease modeling, it’s key that we raise as much awareness as possible. The best targets are labs that might be using such technologies to have a complete and unbiased understanding of their research topic, or to assess the effect that sex can have on drugs.

Our research

A team of women and I competed in the Women’s Brain Project Hackathon and are researching the potential for organ-on-a-chip to decrease gender bias in the healthcare industry.

Figure 3. Fact sheet. Source: WBP Hackathon Team 1
Figure 4. Survey respondents. Source: WBP Hackathon Team 1

General Audience Survey Results

Figure 5. Source: WBP Hackathon Team 1

Expert Survey Results

Figure 6. Source: WBP Hackathon Team 1
Figure 7. Word Cloud of OoC models. Source: WBP Hackathon Team 1

Moving forward

We have targeted both a public and an expert audience and we were impressed by the interest that the topic generated. Among the expert group, 50% of the participants do not record the sex of their animal or
cell models. We hope that our factsheet document and the links shared with the survey, generated some additional thinking and the participants will from now on take in consideration the sex-variant in their studies. Among
the public group, many participants were also under 18 years old. It is crucial for the young population to get to know the presence of sex-bias in medicine and its combined danger.

A New York City high school freshman passionate about redefining space exploration.

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