Kiel Symposium: Sex and Gender Aspects in Precision Medicine

The Cluster of Excellence "Precision Medicine in Chronic Inflammation" organized a symposium on gender-sensitive medicine and women in science.

Every cell has a sex and every person is gendered! This becomes obvious when searching literature. A patient's sex and gender are often neglected factors in healthcare and medicine. For example, the risk of developing certain diseases depends on gender and the diagnosis, disease progression and response to treatment can also differ. Considering sex and gender aspects therefore adds a valuable dimension to research and healthcare.

What is the current status of gender-sensitive medicine, especially with regard to chronic inflammation? What potential do sex and gender aspects offer for biomedical research? And why are we still facing an underrepresentation of women in science? To put these questions on the agenda, the Cluster of Excellence "Precision Medicine in Chronic Inflammation" (PMI) hosted the symposium "Sex and Gender Aspects in Precision Medicine" at the Atlantic Hotel in Kiel on November 9, 2023. Around 90 scientists from various disciplines, particularly from clinical and biomedical research and sex-sensitive medicine, attended the event to explore these issues together with the invited high-caliber speakers.

The first part of the symposium, which focused on sex-sensitive medicine, was opened by Prof. Marek Glezerman from Tel Aviv University, gynecologist, gender medicine specialist and author ("Frauen sind anders krank. Männer auch.” Women are ill differently. So are men) and one of the world's most renowned researchers on the subject of sex and gender-specific medicine. Glezerman spoke about gender differences in medicine, such as pain perception and side effects, and about the importance of sex and gender-conscious medicine for precision medicine. This was followed by further contributions from high-caliber experts on sex differences in chronic inflammatory bowel diseases, vaccinations and cardiovascular diseases.

"In several inflammatory diseases, such as lupus and rheumatism, we see very clear differences in the gender distribution of sufferers. However, the gender of patients also plays a role in other inflammatory diseases where it is not so obvious, but this role has still received too little attention to date. However, if we want to establish genuine precision medicine, we cannot ignore this important factor," emphasized Professor Gabriela Riemekasten, head of the event's organization team and Executive Group member of the Cluster of Excellence PMI.

The second part of the event focused on "Gender aspects in science". The keynote lecture was given by one of the leading German-speaking experts in this field: Professor Sabine Oertelt-Prigione, specialist for internal medicine and professor of gender-sensitive medicine at Bielefeld University and professor of gender medicine at Radboud University in Nijmegen, spoke about why biomedical research should be sex and gender-sensitive. The other presentations by the invited experts built a bridge to the question of why women are still underrepresented in science, what can be done about it and what potential lies in a balanced gender distribution. 

The event concluded with an internal workshop of female Cluster members together with the invited external speakers. Together, they explored what further steps the Cluster PMI could take as a result of the points discussed. "The new findings will also be incorporated into the Cluster of Excellence PMI’s application for a further funding phase. It is important to us to include sex and gender-sensitive medicine more strongly into the work of our Cluster of Excellence in the future, as well as to continue to promote women in science," said Professor Stefan Schreiber, spokesperson for the Cluster of Excellence PMI. One of the Cluster of Excellence’s important measures for promoting equal opportunities is the highly endowed Dorothea Erxleben Female Investigator Award (1 x €100,000, 2 x €50,000) to outstanding female researchers from the Cluster. This prize was also awarded at the symposium.

Scientific contact:

Prof. Gabriela Riemekasten
Department of Rheumatology and Immunology,
University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein (UKSH), Campus Lübeck, and the University of Lübeck (UzL)
+49 451 500 45201

woman talking in front of an audience
© S. Weimar / Cluster of Excellence PMI

Prof. Gabriela Riemekasten, head of the event's organizational team and member of the PMI Cluster of Excellence's Executive Board, opens the symposium "Sex and Gender Aspects in Precision Medicine".

© S. Weimar / Cluster of Excellence PMI

Around 90 scientists from various disciplines, particularly from clinical and biomedical research and gender-sensitive medicine, accepted the cluster's invitation to the "Sex and Gender Aspects in Precision Medicine" symposium.

female audience
© S. Weimar / Cluster of Excellence PMI

The first session of the symposium dealt with gender-sensitive medicine, and the second session focused on "Gender aspects in science", which dealt in particular with the underrepresentation of women in science.

two women talking
© S. Weimar / Cluster of Excellence PMI

Prof. Sabine Oertelt-Prigione, Professor of Gender-Sensitive Medicine at Bielefeld University and Professor of Gender Medicine at Radboud University in Nijmegen, in conversation on the fringes of the symposium.

Further links:

Program of the Symposium „Sex and Gender Aspects in Precision Medicine“

Press release: Awarding the Dorothea Erxleben Female Investigator Awards 2023

About the Cluster of Excellence PMI

The Cluster of Excellence "Precision Medicine in Chronic Inflammation" (PMI) is being funded from 2019 to 2025 through the German Excellence Strategy (ExStra). It succeeds the "Inflammation at Interfaces” Cluster, which was already funded in two periods of the Excellence Initiative (2007-2018). Around 300 members from eight institutions at four locations are involved: Kiel (Kiel University, University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein (UKSH), Muthesius University of Fine Arts and Design, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education (IPN)), Lübeck (University of Lübeck, University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein (UKSH)), Plön (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology) and Borstel (Research Center Borstel - Leibniz Lung Center).

The goal is to translate interdisciplinary research findings on chronic inflammatory diseases of barrier organs to healthcare more intensively, as well as to fulfil previously unsatisfied needs of the patients. Three points are important in the context of successful treatment, and are therefore at the heart of PMI research: the early detection of chronic inflammatory diseases, the prediction of disease progression and complications, and the prediction of individual responses to treatment.

Press office

Frederike Buhse
Public Relations, Excellence Cluster PMI

Cluster of Excellence "Precision Medicine in Chronic Inflammation"
Scientific Office
Head: Dr. habil. Susanne Holstein Postal
Christian-Albrechts-Platz 4, 24118 Kiel, Germany
Contact: Sonja Petermann
 +49 (0)431 880-4850, fax: +49 (0)431 880-4894
Twitter: PMI @medinflame