OSSD Presidents Message By Liisa Galea, Ph.D.

Liisa Galea PhD is the new President of OSSD. She is a Professor in the Department of Psychology, a member of the Djavad Mowifaghian Centre for Brain Health, the Lead of the Women’s Health Research Cluster, and Health Advisor to VPRI at University of British Columbia in beautiful Vancouver, Canada.

It was fantastic to see so many people at our first in-person OSSD conference since 2019!  Although I am grateful to technology for allowing us to stay connected virtually, there is something magical about seeing people and talking science again in person.

I am delighted to start my term as President of the Organization for the Study of Sex Differences to guide us through the next two years in the wonderful world of sex differences.  First, I want to extend a warm congratulations to Dr. Rhonda Voskuhl for her leadership as President of OSSD from 2020-22.  Just imagine starting in this role during the pandemic, and numerous political tensions worldwide – pandemic and non-pandemic related. Regardless, Rhonda achieved much for the society during her tenure and her mark will be felt for some time to come. OSSD started several new initiatives including a free “Speaker Series,” that leads up to our annual meetings, “Paper Picks” every month in our newsletter that highlights a recent SABV paper in the literature, and importantly formed a new Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, that informs on many of our decisions. We also formed stronger collaborations with the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Research in Women’s Health (NIH ORWH) and the Society for Women’s Health Research (SWHR) as a direct result of Rhonda’s leadership. This also led to strong ties to our society journal Biology of Sex Differences, which currently enjoys a strong impact factor. I know we are all grateful for Rhonda’s unfailing leadership to drive OSSD’s mission forward and I know I have impossibly large shoes to fill.

These are exciting times to be interested in sex differences as there is greater attention in the scientific community thanks to the many funding agency initiatives across the world dedicated to ensuring research will improve the health of all, regardless of sex or gender. What are my thoughts in assuming the role of OSSD President? Several studies show that more studies across a wide variety of disciplines are including males and females in their work. This is a big change from only ten years ago, as in some disciplines there has been a 50% increase in   papers with studies using males and females. However, as president, I am concerned with how researchers have been including males and females. We have work to do to continue to educate others not only on why sex as a biological variable is important but also on the diverse ways to study possible sex differences. At the same time, we need to recognize that sex is not binary and that intersectional variables such as age, disease, genotype, income, Indigeneity, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gendered variables matter for health outcomes and disease risk. Lastly, I recognize that I am the first non-US president of OSSD, and apart from pronouncing ‘about’ differently, I hope that this Canadian diversity will enrich our society. We have much to learn when we listen to diverse disciplines and voices. Join OSSD and help spread the word on the power of harnessing possible sex differences in research.