Accounting for Neglected Factors and Applying Practical Solutions to Enhance Rigor and Reproducibility

Differences between males and females extend well beyond reproduction, with significant implications for human health and disease. This is particularly the case in the field of neuroscience, where differences in basic biology between men and women can lead to sex differences in the prevalence, progression, and responses to treatment of many brain disorders.

This video training series was developed by Cohen Veterans Bioscience, a non-profit research and biotechnology organization dedicated to advancing health solutions for brain disorders by ensuring that early-stage research is conducted to the highest and most rigorous standards possible. One solution is to ensure that the research community—including graduate students, postdocs, and other early career researchers—have the tools they need to enable the implementation of best practices across the experimental process. 

The goal of the video training series is to provide practical guidance to preclinical researchers on how to navigate the NIH’s 2015 policy on incorporating sex as a biological variable into their current and future research.

Across this video series, we will demonstrate:

  • Why research inclusive of both sexes is important for increasing scientific rigor and the health of both men and women;
  • Why common misconceptions arguing against the inclusion of both sexes into preclinical research are outdated;
  • How including both sexes into preclinical research can open new areas of research and advance patient-centered treatment solutions.

The content of these training videos is distributed across three modules:

It is recommended that viewers watch all of the videos in succession, beginning with the Introductory Video: Introduction to Sex as a Biological Variable and the Video Series

We thank you for watching this educational series. While no group of videos on sex as a biological variable can be inclusive, we hope that these videos serve as a guide and starting point for practically approaching the NIH’s policy into your own research program.

Quote from Dr. Chantelle Ferland-Beckham
Watch the introduction:

Training Series

  • Understand the fundamentals of sex differences across major areas of study in the field of neuroscience
  • Understand how sex hormones are synthesized and their mechanisms of action in the brain and periphery
  • Understand how sex differences in brain and behavior contribute to observed sex differences in various neurological disorders
  • Recognize that sex differences should always be assumed
  • Understand how preclinical research contributes to clinical research and development
  • Recognize what is known about sex differences in basic pharmacology principles and how those differences may impact the design and outcomes of your studies
  • Understand why the design and selection of the animal model you use in your studies may alter the predictive power of your conclusions further in the development stage
  • Learn the basics of sex differences in commonly used analgesics and anesthetics in experiments and how these differences may effect study outcomes
  • Understand how sex as a biological variable may influence various aspects of an experiment from design to analysis to reporting
  • Recognize common misconceptions about incorporating sex as a biological variable into your research and how these can easily be overcome
  • Be able to design a basic research study incorporating both males and females, whether it’s a new line of research, an existing line of research, or you want to specifically study sex differences
  • Understand the rationale behind accurately analyzing and reporting sex-based data
  • Know that incorporating sex as a biological variable is not the same as studying sex differences

Survey

Acknowledgements

Cohen Veterans Bioscience

This video series was developed and led by Principal Investigator Dr. Chantelle Ferland-Beckham, Senior Director, External Affairs at Cohen Veterans Bioscience.

Additional support for this program was provided by Dr. Magali Haas, CEO & President, Cohen Veterans Bioscience, and Dr. Taryn Aubrecht, Scientific Program Manager, Cohen Veterans Bioscience.

Cohen Veterans Bioscience would like to thank the members of our Scientific Advisory Board for their extensive contributions to the development of these training videos. Without their expert guidance, these videos would not have been possible:

Dr. Debra Bangasser
Associate Professor, Director, Neuroscience Program, Temple University

Dr. Jill Becker
Biopsychology Area Chair, Patricia Y. Gurin Collegiate Professor of Psychology, Research Professor Psychiatry, Research Professor Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Institute, Senior Scholar Neuroscience Program, Reproductive Sciences Program, University of Michigan

Dr. Anton Bespalov
Co-Founder of Pharma Innovation Excellence, Co-Founder of Partnership for Assessment and Accreditation of Scientific Practice; Professor, Department of Pharmacology, Pavlov Medical University

Dr. Larry Cahil
Professor, Neurobiology and Behavior School of Biological Sciences, UC Irvine

Dr. Christina Dalla
Associate Professor, Department of Pharmacology, Medical School, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece

Dr. Georgia Hodes
Assistant Professor, School of Neuroscience, Virginia Tech

Dr. Mohammed Kabbaj
Professor, Biomedical Sciences Department, College of Medicine, Program in Neuroscience, Florida State University

Dr. Martien Kas
Professor, Behavioral Neuroscience, University  of Groningen

Dr. Nikros Kokras
Psychiatrist, First Department of Psychiatry, Eginition Hospital & Research Associate, Department of Pharmacology, Medical  School National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece

Dr. Margaret McCarthy
James & Carolyn Frenkil Dean’s Professor, Chair, Department of Pharmacology, Director for the Program in Neuroscience, University of Maryland School of Medicine

Dr. Rebecca Shansky
Associate Professor, Psychology, Northeastern University College of Science

Dr. Thomas Steckler
Senior Scientific Director, Neuroscience Drug Discovery, Janssen Research and Development

Dr. Jessica Tolkuhn
Assistant Professor, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Dr. Hanno Wurbel
Professor of Animal Welfare, University of Bern

In Memory of Dr. Bruce McEwen

Although he only served as a member of our Scientific Advisory Board for this project for a short time before his untimely passing,
his contributions to the field of sex differences in brain and behavior were pivotal for moving the field forward. 

These videos were made possible though a generous grant from the National Institute of General Medicines
(Grant Number: 5 R25 GM133017-03), awarded to Cohen Veterans Bioscience (Principal Investigator: Chantelle Ferland-Beckham, PhD