The National Institutes of Health ( NIH ) announced, on Aug. 14, that it has awarded $5.7 million for a five-year study that will evaluate the long-term outcomes of medical treatment for transgender youth. Among the co-investigators in the study is Dr. Robert Garofalo, division chief of Adolescent Medicine at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago and professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University School of Medicine.
"This is one of the proudest moment of my academic career, and probably my medical career as well," said Garofalo. "This is the first study of its kind, and it really only comes after two years of very hard, diligent and collaborative work to get this award."
According to a statement, the goal of researchers is to uncover evidence-based information on the physiological and psychosocial impact, as well as safety, of hormone blockers and cross-sex hormone use amongst transgender youth. Garofalo's co-investigators include Johanna Olson of Children's Hospital of Los Angeles and the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California; Stephen Rosenthal of UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital in San Francisco; and Norman Spack of Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School. The study will take place at four academic medical centers with dedicated transgender youth clinics.
Garofalo, who gave additional credit to the Tawani Foundation for its financial support on transgender health issues, added that the study came at the "perfect time" and can potentially expand the scope of transgender health issues.
"There's been an explosion of awareness in transgender health, both in the medical field and in the media, as well as in academic circles," he said. "For too long, transgender health issues have been seen singularly through the prism of HIV."
The study begins enrollment in fall 2015 and will include 280 transgender youth. Participants will be individuals seeking medical intervention to align their physical bodies with their gender identity and alleviate gender dysphoria and its associated negative effects, including anxiety, depression and substance abuse.