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Women's Health: a life course approach

Online event


This symposium, jointly hosted by the Royal Society and Academy of Medical Sciences, will explore innovative, evidence-based health technologies and interventions that can benefit women during the different stages of their lives.

Women's Health


In the UK, 51% of the population and 47% of the workforce are women, yet the funding for research of women’s health is much less than for research of men’s health issues. The resulting unmet health needs of women present a major health inequality but also a significant market opportunity for gendered innovation. Recent appreciation of this has led to a surge of investment into new technologies and treatments in the women’s health sector, including the ongoing growth of a $35bn ‘fem tech’ market. Many such innovations offer exciting opportunities for a personalised and preventive approach to women’s health across a life course, but it is critical that these advances are evidence-based and inclusive, to maximise benefits to women and avoid unintentional harms.

This meeting will explore some novel health interventions that support women to live healthily through the major transitions of their life. Speakers will discuss examples of innovative research, therapies and technologies that benefit women’s health and consider how to overcome some of the societal challenges and barriers to building systems, in healthcare and beyond, that meet the needs of all women at different stages of their lives. 

About the conference series

Supported by AstraZeneca, the meeting will form part of the Royal Society’s Transforming our future conferences in the life sciences, and the Academy of Medical Sciences’ FORUM programme. These meetings are unique, high-level events that address the scientific and technical challenges of the next decade. Each conference features cutting edge science from industry and academia and brings together leading experts from the scientific community, including regulatory, charity and funding bodies.

Event organisers

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Schedule of talks

18 October


Opening Remarks



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Dame Valerie Beral DBE FMedSci FRS, University of Oxford

13:05-13:15 Women's health and technological innovation

Baroness Nicola Blackwood, Chair, Genomics England

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13:15-13:30 A wholistic life course approach to women's health

Neena Modi, Professor of Neonatal Medicine, Imperial College London


In this brief presentation I will discuss the determinants of health, what is meant by a life-course approach, and its components. I will explain why the determinants of health largely lie outside healthcare, and why women remain disadvantaged in relation to the development of diagnostics and therapeutics targeting their needs. Finally, I will discuss why this is an issue that that has wide societal and trans-generational implications and how current economic and other policies present barriers to redressing the current situation. 

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Q&A session

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Baroness Nicola Blackwood, Chair, Genomics England
Neena Modi, Professor of Neonatal Medicine, Imperial College London

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Successful interventions across the life course

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Professor Philippa Saunders FMedSci, University of Edinburgh

13:55-14:15 The menstrual health and wellbeing of young women

Hilary Critchley, Professor of Reproductive Medicine, University of Edinburgh

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14:15-14:35 The sexual health and wellbeing of women: The National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles

Professor Pam Sonnenberg, Co-Director, UCL Centre for Population Research in Sexual Health and HIV

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14:55-15:15 Health apps to empower women about their health

Jenny Thomas, Programme Director, DigitalHealth.London

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Panel discussion

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Dr Pauline Williams CBE FMedSci, GSK

Diversity and inclusion, empowerment of women in women's health and the importance of an evidence-based approach

A. Metin Gülmezoglu, Executive Director, Concept Foundation
Professor Dame Lesley Regan, Secretary General, International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics

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Closing Remarks

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