CORRESPONDENCE

Account for sex in brain research for precision medicine

University of Zurich, Switzerland.
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Roche Diagnostic International, Rotkreuz, Switzerland.

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Sorbonne University, Paris, France.

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In her review of Gina Rippon’s book The Gendered Brain, Lise Eliot uses the term “neurosexism” to describe the “myth” of brain differences in men and women (Nature 566, 453–454; 2019). Although the field is indeed rife with misinterpretation and methodological flaws, that is no justification for dismissing sex differences in neuroscience (see also R. Voskuhl and S. Klein Nature 568, 171; 2019).

A variety of neurological and psychiatric conditions demonstrate robust differences between the sexes in their incidence, symptoms, progression and response to treatment (see, for example, M. T. Ferretti et al. Nature Rev. Neurol. 14, 457–469; 2018). When properly documented and studied, sex and gender differences are the gateway to precision medicine.

This year’s International Forum on Women’s Brain and Mental Health will feature panel discussions with patients and worldwide leaders. It will assess sex and gender differences in basic and clinical neuroscience, the role of such differences in disease management and clinical trials, sex and gender biases in digital medicine, and how artificial intelligence could exploit sex differences for precision medicine.

Nature 569, 40 (2019)

doi: 10.1038/d41586-019-01366-5

Competing Financial Interests

A.S.-C. is an employee of Roche Diagnostics International, Rotkreuz, Switzerland.

H.H. serves as senior associate editor for the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia; he received lecture fees from Biogen and Roche, research grants from Pfizer, Avid and MSD Avenir (paid to the institution), travel funding from Eisai, Functional Neuromodulation, Axovant, Eli Lilly and Company, Takeda and Zinfandel, GE-Healthcare and Oryzon Genomics, consultancy fees from Qynapse, Jung Diagnostics, Cytox, Axovant, Anavex, Takeda and Zinfandel, GE Healthcare, Oryzon Genomics, and Functional Neuromodulation, and participated in scientific advisory boards of Functional Neuromodulation, Axovant, Eisai, Eli Lilly and Company, Cytox, GE Healthcare, Takeda and Zinfandel, Oryzon Genomics and Roche Diagnostics.

H.H. is co-inventor in the following patents as a scientific expert and has received no royalties:

• In Vitro Multiparameter Determination Method for the Diagnosis and Early Diagnosis of Neurodegenerative Disorders, Patent Number: 8916388

• In Vitro Procedure for Diagnosis and Early Diagnosis of Neurodegenerative Diseases, Patent Number: 8298784

• Neurodegenerative Markers for Psychiatric Conditions, Publication Number: 20120196300

• In Vitro Multiparameter Determination Method for the Diagnosis and Early Diagnosis of Neurodegenerative Disorders, Publication Number: 20100062463

• In Vitro Method for the Diagnosis and Early Diagnosis of Neurodegenerative Disorders, Publication Number: 20100035286

• In Vitro Procedure for Diagnosis and Early Diagnosis of Neurodegenerative Diseases, Publication Number: 20090263822

• In Vitro Method for the Diagnosis of Neurodegenerative Diseases, Patent Number: 7547553

• CSF Diagnostic in Vitro Method for Diagnosis of Dementias and Neuroinflammatory Diseases, Publication Number: 20080206797

• In Vitro Method for The Diagnosis of Neurodegenerative Diseases, Publication Number: 20080199966

• Neurodegenerative Markers for Psychiatric Conditions, Publication Number: 20080131921

M.T.F. acts as the unpaid chief scientific officer of the non-profit organization Woman’s Brain Project.

A.S.-C. acts as the unpaid chief executive of the non-profit organization Woman’s Brain Project.

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