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Although sex and gender are recognized as major determinants of health and immunity, their role is rarely considered in clinical practice and public health. We identified six bottlenecks preventing the inclusion of sex and gender considerations from basic science to clinical practice, precision medicine and public health policies. (i) A terminology-related bottleneck, linked to the definitions of sex and gender themselves, and the lack of consensus on how to evaluate gender. (ii) A data-related bottleneck, due to gaps in sex-disaggregated data, data on trans/non-binary people and gender identity. (iii) A translational bottleneck, limited by animal models and the underrepresentation of gender minorities in biomedical studies. (iv) A statistical bottleneck, with inappropriate statistical analyses and results interpretation. (v) An ethical bottleneck posed by the underrepresentation of pregnant people and gender minorities in clinical studies. (vi) A structural bottleneck, as systemic bias and discriminations affect not only academic research but also decision makers. We specify guidelines for researchers, scientific journals, funding agencies and academic institutions to address these bottlenecks. Following such guidelines will support the development of more efficient and equitable care strategies for all.

Original publication




Journal article


R Soc Open Sci

Publication Date





bottlenecks, immunity, infection, sex and gender