The 'Sex and Gender Policies in Health and Medical Research' project focuses on the understanding, promotion and development of policies for sex and gender sensitive research across the medical research pipeline.

Currently, scientific studies that are based on sex are frequently generalised to both men and women, even though diseases often present differently in men and women, and drugs react differently due to variations in physiology. This leads to negative health impacts on the other sex, and has implications well beyond the health sector and into other social and aged care services. 

Beyond this, extensive investigation into the short-term and long-term financial impact of failures such as misdiagnosis based on gender stereotyping of medical conditions, medical devices designed for men in women’s bodies and administering treatments that are ineffective to one sex is needed to help decision-makers where health budgets and funding are increasingly constrained.

This research and the development of policies incorporating sex and gender disaggregated research data will help ensure that Australian health research and science continues to be world leading, will provide better healthcare outcomes for all Australians, and will demonstrate a reduction in the economic health burden on Australia’s economy. 

This three-year philanthropically-funded research project is led by the Australian Human Rights Institute and the George Institute for Global Health. 

Research team

  • Scientia Professor Louise Chappell (Australian Human Rights Institute)
  • Professor Robyn Norton (The George Institute for Global Health)
  • Professor Mark Woodward (The George Institute for Global Health)
  • Dr Cheryl Carcel (The George Institute for Global Health)
  • Dr Zoe Wainer (Department of Health, Victoria)
  • Dr Amy Vassallo (The George Institute for Global Health)
  • Dr Janani Shanthosh (Australian Human Rights Institute & The George Institute for Global Health)
  • Dr Kelly Thompson (The George Institute for Global Health)
  • Laura Hallam (The George Institute for Global Health)
  • Project Manager: Lily Halliday,


Dr Amy Vassallo, Dr Cheryl Carcel, Scientia Professor Louise Chappell, Professor Robyn Norton, Dr Jan Shanthosh, Professor Mark Woodward, Dr Zoe Wainer, (2021) ‘The gender-based data gap in Australian medical research’, Womens Policy Action Tank.

Dr Amy Vassallo (2021), Member submission to Australasian Epidemiological Association for advocacy document 'Future proofing population health: short to medium term recommendations to improve core epidemiological functions in Australia and New Zealand', on the importance of sex disaggregated data (submitted and accepted).


'One in three women has had health concerns dismissed. Experts say it's evidence of a gender gap in medicine', Stephanie Dalzell, ABC News, 7 June 2021.

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