Dr. Sara Naseri | The MAKERS Conference 2022

Dr. Sara Naseri |  The MAKERS Conference 2022

Dr. Sara Naseri at the MAKERS 2022 Conference.

video transcript

SARA NASERI: Hello MAKERS community. Buenas tardes. I am very excited to be here with all of you to talk about how to make the future.

As a physician and scientist, I am especially interested in building the future of women’s health. And folks, we’re really behind. It is no secret that women’s health has been overlooked and stigmatized due to lack of representation and participation in medical research, lack of funding and lack of awareness. And this has led to a huge gender data gap. But what is the gender data gap and why is it a problem?

The gender data gap means that the information we use to guide clinical diagnosis and treatment is biased and does not accurately and fairly represent female biology. So let me give you an example. Thanks. Let me give you an example.

70% of chronic pain patients are women. Now, guess how many women are represented in chronic pain research? Is it 50%? 40%? it is 20%. Only 20%.

Even as we study conditions that overwhelmingly impact women, we are studying and solving for male biology. And because, spoiler alert, female and male biology are different, this has serious consequences. For example, the symptoms of a heart attack that we were taught to watch out for in medical school, such as the classic symptom of pain in the arm, are experienced more often by men who have a heart attack.

Women, on the other hand, may experience symptoms like indigestion or jaw pain when they have a heart attack. And that discrepancy is why heart disease and heart attacks are more often missed in women, increasing women’s mortality. This is unacceptable.


SARA NASERI: That’s how it is. When we do not include women in clinical trials, the conclusions we reach may not be accurate for women and certainly not representative of female biology. The disparity does not always occur in clinical studies. Studies much earlier in the process also focus disproportionately on men and male biology.

Two of the most important stages of early drug development, for example, cell and animal trials, also use male cells and male rodents more frequently. But why? Because they think female biology is messy.

Our pesky hormones and all the other things that make us women unique make research too difficult. But female biology is not messy. it’s complex. And that complexity is exactly why women need to be included and prioritized in medical research. Enough is enough.


Thanks. And a more recent example is the 2020 COVID-19 vaccine trials that did not include information about how the vaccine can affect women’s reproductive organs. And only after implementing the vaccine did we learn that it actually affects women’s periods. And I don’t blame the heroic vaccine researchers who were literally running to save the world. Because women’s health hasn’t been included since the beginning of medical research, we still don’t have the muscle memory to ask the right questions about women’s health.

Sometimes I wonder, what if a man bled every month? What would happen if a man had his period? We would have man-pons pants per man. Man-pax. Yes, the world may have looked different. And more importantly, we may have known more about our health and our periods.

But why worry about menstrual blood, that stuff that half the world throws away every month? Well, 70% of medical decisions are based on blood tests and laboratory tests that require invasive procedures, medical professionals. It is expensive and time consuming. And at the same time, we have 1.8 billion women who bleed naturally every month. Why hasn’t anyone made that useful?

So, in 2014, he was still a medical student. This thought popped into my head. What if menstrual blood could be a way for us women to get information about their health in a regular and non-invasive way? And as you can imagine, at the time, little to no information was being published about the diagnostic utility of menstrual blood. So I left Denmark to come to the US to do research at a major university hospital, only to learn that the clinical research lab refused to test period samples because they claimed we didn’t know if the blood menstrual was blood.

That is why I am very excited to announce that we have done the research. And we can confirm that the menstrual blood is… wait for it… blood. And that it contains additional information about our reproductive organs and some critical conditions specific to women that we have no other way to diagnose today.

So I co-founded a company. We call it Qvin. Means “woman” in Danish. And we found a scientific way for women to collect menstrual blood to gain access to regular, noninvasive, passively collected health information. We call it Q-Pad. And we believe this novel approach to helping women prevent disease and gain access to medical research could be a global game changer. Let’s start with cervical cancer.

The Q Pad. We recently published our data with Stanford University Hospital on how the Q-Pad could become a way for women to screen for cervical cancer around the world, a cancer that still kills more than half a million people today. women all over the world and it’s completely, completely preventable. if we look for it and detect it early. We also validate a number of other critical biomarkers, such as hemoglobin A1C, which is an important biomarker in diabetes management and management, thyroid-stimulating hormone, which indicates thyroid health, and fertility hormones, such as FSH, LH and AMH.

But wait. The Q-Pad is not yet on the market. We are still making the future. But you can get on our waiting list and you just might find a surprise in your conference bags.


So this is what we’re going to do in the meantime. We will continue to publish our data. We have built a CLIA certified laboratory. We are going through the FDA approval process. We’re here to do the work in women’s health that no one did because they thought it was complicated. We are here to close the gender data gap and we will do it right.

Periods are the most overlooked opportunity in women’s health. This, which, in many cultures, remains a stigma and a considerable source of shame may be one of the greatest opportunities we have. But let’s talk about you.

What I want to leave you with and what I want to urge you to do is participate in medical research. Whether you’re participating in research with us or in other research initiatives, choose to be represented in the data. Take part. It is important.

Let’s clean up this mess. Let’s close the gender data gap. Let’s build the future of women’s health, period. Thanks.

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