Women & Sex/Gender Differences Research Group

What We Do

The mission of the Women and Sex/Gender Differences Research Program is to promote the conduct, translation, and dissemination of research on: 1) sex/gender differences in the pharmacology, neurobiology, behavioral and socioeconomic determinants of substance use disorders (SUD), and responses to drugs of abuse; and 2) interactions of SUD risk factors, SUD and drugs of abuse with changes in female physiology and behavior across the lifespan.  A primary part of the mission is to promote the careers of women scientists.  The group meets monthly to discuss research and policy updates, recently published papers, workshops and training opportunities.  WGRG members also serve on the Trans-NIH Coordinating Committee for Research on Women’s Health (CCRWH) to advance research on sex and gender differences and women’s health.

Webinar Series

2020 Webinar Series The Maternal Brain
For information about this series, contact Shyra Witcher

  • 03/18/2020 - Pilyoung Kim, Motherhood and the Brain
  • 04/15/2020 - Helena Rutherford, Bridging brain and behavior: Addiction and Parenting
  • 05/20/2020 - Lane Strathhearn, The Neurobiology of Maternal Addiction: What’s attachment got to do with it?
  • 06/17/2020 - Laura Glynn,  Pregnancy as a Sensitive Period of Maternal Development: Potential Implications for Reward and Addiction.
  • 07/15/2020 - Liisa Galea, The Long and Short of it: How Motherhood Affects the Brain
  • 08/19/2020 - Paula Brunton
  • 09/23/2020 - Tune in to NAS conference (see below)
  • 10/07/2020 - Elseline Hoekzema, Leiden Univ., Pregnancy and Brain Structural Changes
  • 11/18/2020 - Jill Goldstein, Harvard University

Conferences and Seminars of Interest

Papers of Interest:

Funding Opportunities & Announcements

Selected Funding Announcements in which NIDA participates.

For a complete list, use the NIH Guide- NIDA Sex Gender Grants Query

Three NIDA-funded projects were recent recipients of IMPROVE administrative supplements.

The NIH Implementing a Maternal health and PRegnancy Outcomes Vision for Everyone (IMPROVE) initiative (NOT-OD-20-104) advances maternal mortality, maternal morbidity and health disparities research to reduce pregnancy-related deaths and complications in the United States. Three NIDA grantees have received awards from this initiative.

  • Krista F. Huybrechts, PhD, Brigham and Women’s Hospital,
    Postpartum opioid related mortality in Medicaid patients
    Drug overdose is increasingly recognized as an important source of maternal mortality; the postpartum period appears to be a time of particular vulnerability. Beyond overdose, opioid use disorders may be associated with an increased risk for other causes of maternal mortality, but data are few. In this study,  the team will link data from the nationwide Medicaid Analytic eXtract (MAX) with the National Death Index to examine the frequency, timing, and risk factors for overdose and other opioid use disorder-related postpartum maternal mortality in order to help ensure clinical and policy interventions can be effectively designed to decrease the occurrence of maternal death.
  • Constance Guille, MD, Medical University of South Carolina.
    Reducing Racial Disparities and Maternal Mortality Associated with Untreated Peripartum Substance Use and Mental Health Disorders.
    Maternal mortality in the United States is higher than any other developed country with non-Hispanic black women having the highest rates of maternal deaths. Suicide and drug overdose combined are a leading cause of maternal mortality. In collaboration with community partners, peer-led recovery organizations and peripartum black women the study team will improve upon an existing substance use disorder and mental health screening, treatment and care coordination program necessary to improve the lives of women, their children and families.
  • Amy J Elliot, PhD, Avera McKennan
    The Cumulative Risk of Substance Exposure and Early Life Adversity on Child Health Development and Outcomes
    Poor sleep health in the perinatal period has been found to be associated with several conditions known to increase the risk for maternal health complications and mortality. Additionally, greater risk incidence of poor sleep reports occurs among racial/ethnic minorities. This study will investigate the feasibility of using wearable devices that acquires 2-lead EEG and ECG to monitor sleep during pregnancy and first month after delivery and specifically in an American Indian population at high risk for poor maternal outcome, with the goal of establishing if wearable solutions would provide viable alternatives to sleep lab assessments and more invasive in home monitor solutions.

Training and Career Development Opportunities

Resources of Interest

Related Workgroups

  • CCRWH Working group on Understanding Complex Morbidity (contact Holly Moore at moore@nih.gov)
  • CCRWH Working group on Reproductive Transitions (contact NIHCCRWH NIHCCRWH@od.nih.gov)
  • Maternal Mortality Task Force
  • CCRWH Covid-19 Working group

Other Web Sites of Interest

NIDA WGRG Contacts

Any questions or suggestions regarding the Women and Gender Research Group or to contribute to this website please contact Rita J. Valentino (valentinorj@nida.nih.gov) or Holly Moore (holly.moore@nih.gov)