Vella Bioscience, a biotech startup focusing on women’s sexual health, has launched the Consortium for the Study of Women’s Sexual Wellness. The initiative, chaired by Dr. Harin Padma-Nathan, former lead clinical researcher for Viagra, aims to enhance female sexual health through rigorous scientific research.

The Consortium brings together ten experts to develop non-pharmaceutical tools for female sexual health, concentrating on areas like sexual arousal, the vaginal microbiome, and uterine pain. Members of the Consortium’s Scientific Advisory Board include notable figures in female sexual health and medicine:

Harin Padma-Nathan, MD, FRCS(C), Chairman of Consortium SAB, Past-Professor of Urology, University of Southern California.

Alan Altman, MD FACOG, Past-President of the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health, Director, Aspen Center for Women’s Health.

Anita Clayton, MD, Chair and Professor of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences, and Professor of Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Virginia, Past-President of the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health, President Elect, American Society of Clinical Psychopharmacology.

Peter Fodor, MD, FACS, Past-President of American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, Past-President Lipoplasty Society of North America, Clinical Professor of Plastic Surgery, UCLA.

Sheryl Kingsberg, PhD, Chief of the OB/GYN Behavioral Medicine division at UH Cleveland Medical Center, Professor of Reproductive Biology, Psychiatry, and Urology, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and a Past President of the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health and a Past President of the North American Menopause Society.  

Cindy Meston, PhD, Holtzman Regents Chair and Professor of Psychology, Director, Sexual Psychophysiology Laboratory, University of Texas, Austin Texas and Past President of the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health

James Pfaus, PhD, Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology, Department of Psychology and Life Sciences, Charles University, Prague; and Researcher, Czech National Institute of Mental Health, Klecany. Past President of the International Academy of Sex Research.

Nicole Prause, PhD, Neuroscientist, Psychophysiological Researcher, Statistician, UCLA School of Medicine, Licensed Psychologist and previously associated with the Kinsey Institute.

Raymond Rosen, PhD, Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), Past-Professor of Psychiatry and Associate Dean of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, author of the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) and the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF).

James Simon, MD, FACOG, Gynecologist, Reproductive Endocrinologist, Past president of the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health and The Menopause Society, and Director, IntimMedicine Specialists, Washington DC.  

Dr. Padma-Nathan, who was a lead researcher on the team that developed Viagra® and Vella Bioscience’s Chief Medical Officer, says: “Many wellness products make sweeping claims about their efficacy as OTC solutions for women’s sexual health and arousal. However, the truth is that we do not know enough about women’s sexual anatomy and physiology in order to create effective tools and clinical-level solutions for women struggling with issues like vaginal dryness and uterine pain. Moreover, the public is fiercely uneducated about women’s sexuality. We hope our research will help to bridge the gaps women experience in their healthcare.” 

Carolyn Wheeler, named CEO of Vella Bioscience earlier this year, says about the initiative: “Research and innovation in women’s health is grossly underserved, and solutions that help us live full lives, including those supporting our sexual well-being, are underdeveloped or nonexistent. The formation of the Consortium is about establishing new norms for women’s sexcare by increasing public education and offering guidance for best practices for evaluating efficacy. We invite our colleagues in this field to join us on this mission—we need all hands on deck. There’s way too much to do, and we need to do it as quickly as possible to make up for so much lost time.”

“There is much that has been developed in the female sexual medicine arena that is readily adaptable to the development of rational and effective wellness products to enhance female sexual arousal, mitigate menstrual pain, and alleviate some of the genitourinary symptoms of menopause,” stated Dr. Anita Clayton, Professor of Psychiatry University of Virginia, Past president of the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health, and member of the Consortium for the Study of Women’s Sexual Wellness SAB. 

The Consortium’s goal is to provide accurate educational resources, support public awareness, and facilitate access to research and validated products for sexual wellness. Additionally, it aims to establish a community of healthcare providers to support women in their sexual health journey.

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