Marianne J. Legato, MD FACP Founder and Director
Mission and Purpose
Founded in 2006 as a continuation of the Partnership for Gender-Specific Medicine at Columbia University, The Foundation for Gender-Specific Medicine, Inc. (FGSM) is the first organization of its kind: it was established in response to the new interest in the direct investigation of women’s health that began in the early 1990’s and which revealed that the differences between men and women were not only completely unexpected but more than had been even imagined and involved every organ in the body. As the first studies began to be published, it became apparent that men could not be considered normative for the entire human race, but that direct testing of both sexes was necessary for an accurate view of not only normal physiology but of the sex-specific experience of the disease. A new science of gender-specific medicine emerged and continues to expand. Gender-specific medicine is not the study of women’s health; it is the study of ways in which biological sex and gender impact normal human function and the differences in men’s and women’s experience of disease.
The Foundation for Gender-Specific Medicine, Inc. is a unique collaboration between the private sector and academic medicine. The FGSM is dedicated to advancing and expanding our knowledge of the new discipline:
- We support original scientific research in gender-specific medicine. The Foundation provides fellowships to untenured, young faculty members with the goal of fostering their interest in gender-specific medicine at the beginning of their investigative careers.
- To educate the lay public and the scientific/medical community. The Foundation understands that science does not operate outside the rest of society, and we consider education a central part of our mission. The interests of the lay public drive medical research and practice. Rather than simply serving as an informational vehicle, the Foundation creates an open dialogue between patients and the medical community. This is achieved by our textbook, Principles of Gender-Specific Medicine; and our scientific journal, Gender and the Genome; and participation in symposia and conferences throughout the world.
We now know that even identical genes are expressed differently in males and females, making it even more crucial than we originally thought to consider the impact of sex on genomic manipulation. It is already clear that sex of the recipient and that of the donor impact outcome. Work on chimeras, in which tissues or cells from one species are implanted into another must consider sex as a variable in research protocols. The physiology of males and females is significantly different and researchers must assess the impact of gender on the data they harvest from such preparations. Similarly, work on artificial intelligence should take into account what we already know about the differences in the anatomy, chemistry and function of male and female brains.
Gender-specific medicine allows us to develop comprehensive, evidence-based, and unique educational programs that communicate the new knowledge to both healthcare professionals and the public. The FGSM envisions a time when gender-specific medicine will no longer be considered a specialty but instead will become an integrated aspect within all specialties of science and medicine.