Last month, the clinical research community lost an incredibly influential figure: New York State Congresswoman Louise Slaughter. In 1993, Slaughter pushed through the NIH Revitalization Act, a bill that forever changed the face of clinical research and funding in the United States.
National Institutes of Health (NIH), a division of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, is the largest biomedical research agency in the world. Before the NIH Revitalization Act was passed in 1993, NIH human subject research was conducted exclusively on white males. Yes, you read that correctly: before 1993, women and minorities were not accounted for when it came to NIH research.
Slaughter, with degrees in microbiology and public health, recognized the enormous barrier this created to treating women, minorities, and the conditions that disproportionately affect these populations (breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and sickle cell anemia, to name a few).
Slaughter’s NIH Revitalization Act established federal guidelines requiring women and minorities to be included in all appropriate NIH-funded clinical research. The establishment of this law drastically changed the type of research conducted by the NIH and, going forward, required scientists to consider women and minorities when creating protocols and analyzing results.
We thank Rep. Slaughter for being such a tireless warrior for the scientific community. She has left an undeniable mark on the world of clinical research, and she will be sorely missed.