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A fresh look at how sex, gender affects health

Gender symposium

By PATRICIA DONOVAN

Published May 24, 2013

When it comes to disease, health care and medical research, men and women are different in their susceptibility to specific diseases and disorders. In addition, experts say, there is a variance in the accuracy of their diagnoses, their treatment and even the kinds of treatment available to them.

On March 1, a UB conference, “Sex, Gender, Health: Interdisciplinary Perspectives Symposium,” will focus on an interdisciplinary field that addresses these issues and is calling for change in medical practice and research.

The symposium, sponsored by the Institute for Education and Research on Women and Gender, and will be held from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in 105 Harriman Hall, South Campus.

The conference is free and open to the public, but registration is required.

Sex and gender medicine is a discipline distinct from both gynecologic medicine and men’s health, and one that advances a rigorous, evidence-based approach to sex and gender differences in science and medicine, in access to proper treatment and in the law.

Practitioners note that historically, men have been the subject of most biomedical research, although no male is normative for the entire human species and women are not deviations from such a norm.

When it comes to illnesses of all kinds, they say, differences between men and women have been found in prevalence, susceptibility, symptoms, pathophysiology, likelihood to seek treatment, treatments offered, response to treatment, morbidity and mortality. Medical practitioners and researchers must address these differences, advocates say, if they are to find and offer the best treatments available.

This symposium is designed to bring together UB faculty members and community leaders to provide information, stimulate discussion and initiate novel interactions. It will present sex and gender health research and discuss educational best practices for incorporating sex and gender health into the curriculum.

Speakers will include:

  • Gale Burstein, Erie County health commissioner and associate professor of clinical pediatrics, UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, on "The Significance of Sex in Sexually Transmitted Infections."
  • Lucinda Finley, vice provost for faculty affairs and Frank Raichle Professor, UB Law School, on "Gender and Health: Legal Implications."
  • Robert Genco, SUNY Distinguished Professor, Department of Oral Biology, UB School of Dental Medicine, on "Sex Differences in Oral Health and Systemic Disease."
  • Kim Griswold, associate professor of family medicine, UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and research associate professor of social and preventive medicine, UB School of Public Health and Health Professions, on "Gender-Based Violence and Refugee Women."
  • Susan Mangold, UB Law School, on "Community-Based Participatory Research: A Study of the Relationship between Sources and Types of Funding and Mental Health Outcomes for Children in Foster Care in Ohio."
  • Mary Murphy, executive director of the Family Justice Center of Erie County, on
    "Domestic Violence and Abuse and the Unique Family Justice Center."
  • Michael Rembis, assistant professor of history and director of the UB Center for Disability Studies, on "Assessing Healthcare: What Your Doctor Probably Forgot to Mention.
  • "Suzanne Tomkins, UB Law School, on "Overcoming Barriers: Protecting Pets of Victims of Domestic Violence."