Career Development : Calendar

Why Sex Matters: Sex differences in COVID and beyond



Dec. 1, 1 p.m. ET

COVID-19 has, in many ways, been a different pandemic for men and women. Men are more likely to develop severe disease, while women more often endure long-haul symptoms. Cases of myocarditis have occurred primarily in young men after vaccination while women have greater stroke risk. COVID also triggers different stress-related mental health challenges. This webinar explores how biological sex shapes our immune response, how gender affects the way we experience stress—and how COVID focuses attention on the longstanding need to understand how sex and gender affect health and disease.

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  • Louise McCullough, M.D., Ph.D., the Roy M. and Phyllis Gough Huffington distinguished chair of neurology at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston and chief of neurology at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, researches cerebral vascular disease with a focus on sex differences in cell death pathways during stroke. During the pandemic, she turned her attention to sex differences in COVID—the strong inflammatory response in men that can lead to severe symptoms from a ‘cytokine storm,’ and the adaptive immune response in women, which may be linked to long-haul symptoms and perhaps the development of auto-antibodies. Among her many awards, Dr. McCullough received the Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in 2016.

  • Sara Ghandehari, M.D., is a pulmonologist and director of pulmonary rehabilitation in the Women's Guild Lung Institute at Cedar-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. She is also an associate clinical professor of medicine at Cedars-Sinai and U.C.L.A. David Geffen School of Medicine. In caring for COVID patients, she sees the greater severity of symptoms in men, including severe lung damage. Dr. Ghandehari hypothesized that female hormones might have a protective effect, and she and her colleagues conducted a pilot study of progesterone to reduce inffammation. Her work is part of broader investigations into COVID disparities and the potential role of sex hormones in immunomodulation.

  • Psychologist Carolyn M. Mazure, Ph.D., is the Norma Weinberg Spungen and Joan Lebson Bildner Professor in Women’s Health Research and director of Women’s Health Research at Yale, an interdisciplinary research center on the health of women and the interplay of sex, gender, and health. She is internationally recognized for her work on depression, in which she was the among the first to demonstrate how stress is a more potent pathway to depression in women than men and to use these findings to inform treatment interventions. During the pandemic, Dr. Mazure has focused on the consequences of stress on women. She chaired the American Psychological Association’s Summit on Women and Depression, has testified before Congress on women’s health, and served on the advisory committee for the NIH Office for Research on Women’s Health.

  • Moderator: Michele Cohen Marill

Louise McCullough

Sara Ghandehari

Carolyn M. Mazure

Michele Cohen Marill