Remarks by the First Lady at the Morehouse School of Medicine's 2024 Women's Heart Healthy Luncheon in Atlanta, Georgia

February 07, 2024

[As Prepared for Delivery]

Thank you, Valerie. Morehouse School of Medicine is setting an inspiring example of cutting-edge research, patient-centered care, and an education that's training the next generation of health care providers – and making sure they are representative of the communities they serve. I'm grateful for your work and your leadership. And, your friendship.

Good afternoon. It's great to be back in Atlanta and an honor to be here with you today.

For 15 years, the women in this room have been committed to raising awareness about heart disease – and learning from each other, about one another.

If you ask any woman in America about her health care, she probably has a story to tell. You know her.

She's the woman who gets debilitating migraines, but doesn't know why, and can't find treatment options that work for her.

She's the woman going through menopause, who visits with her doctor and leaves with more questions than answers, even though half the country will go through menopause at some point in their lives.

She's the woman who dies because her heart disease isn't recognized, since her symptoms don't look like a man's heart attack.

That's why we're all here, isn't it?

Because women are more likely than men to die after a heart attack. And Black women are more likely to die from heart disease than women of any other race.

What you've heard today is powerful – the ways in which heart disease is connected to diabetes, hypertension, and pregnancy, and how it's even connected to our genes based on new research from the Morehouse School of Medicine.

But just knowing this isn't enough. We have to turn our knowledge into action.

And to do that we need to better understand heart disease in women and study it more.

Because even though women are half the population, research on women's health has always been underfunded.

Too many medical studies have focused on men and left women out.

Too many of the medicine dosages, treatments, medical school textbooks, are based on men and their bodies – and that information doesn't always apply to women.

That means there are big gaps in research on diseases and conditions that only affect women, that disproportionately affect women, or that affect women and men differently.

These gaps are even greater for communities that have historically been excluded from research – especially women of color and women with disabilities.

Because of these gaps, we understand far too little about these conditions, and how to help the millions of women who struggle with them.

My husband, Joe, understands that this is a problem. And he's taking action.

That's what he does – he learns about a problem and then he gets to work solving it. He doesn't waste any time.

So, in November, President Biden launched the White House Initiative on Women's Health Research. We have a clear goal: to fundamentally change how our nation approaches and funds women's health research.

Joe issued a presidential memorandum asking federal agencies for their recommendations on how to make the policy changes necessary to advance women's health research. And he's instructed agencies to address health inequities as part of this initiative.

Remarkable work is happening here in Atlanta, where universities, entrepreneurs, investors, companies, and city leaders – and groups like Women with Heart – are coming together to drive innovation in women's health.

We need research at universities to develop breakthroughs.

Investors who believe in those ideas. Startups that bring those ideas to the market. Doctors who translate those ideas into treatment plans. And government and advocates who help bring everyone together.

Later today, Valerie and I will be speaking with leaders who are pushing that innovation forward – hearing about their insights and experience, and how we can all be part of reaching toward the possibilities ahead.

I know that women in Atlanta have been doing this work for decades.

And I'm here because Joe and I want to be your partners in this. And we are proud to join you in this fight.

Together, we will build a health care system that puts women – all women – and their lived experiences at its center, where no woman or girl has to hear that "it's all in your head," or, "it's just stress." Where women aren't just an after-thought, but a first-thought. Where women don't just survive, they lead long, healthy, and happy lives.

Thank you.

Jill Biden, Remarks by the First Lady at the Morehouse School of Medicine's 2024 Women's Heart Healthy Luncheon in Atlanta, Georgia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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