Welcome To
The Gebhard Lab

Welcome to The Gebhard Lab

Sex- and gender-specific Medicine

Our knowledge about the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease originates from studies mainly done on male cells, male mice, and men. Historically, women of childbearing age were excluded from clinical trials. As a result, medical research and care have been centered on male physiology. The assumption was that male and female cells and animals were biologically identical, and evidence-based medicine was defined by clinical trials done predominantly in men. Similarly, experimental research and drug development studies have also predominantly used male animal models and cells. As a consequence, contemporary clinical guidelines do not sufficiently account for sex and gender differences.

Despite acknowledgement of this gender disbalance since the 1990s, the sex and gender bias in experimental and clinical research persists in contemporary medicine. Accordingly, female sex remains substantially underrepresented in experimental and clinical research – with detrimental implications for women. The Gebhard Lab aims to making a real change for both male and female patients by increasing our understanding of sex- and gender-specific disease mechanisms in cardiovascular disease and critical illness. In addition, our work focuses on identifying sex- and gender bias in the provision of health care in Switzerland. By providing teaching material and being involved in numerous teaching activities for students, postgraduates as well as lay people, we also aim to raise awareness for the importance of sex and gender as genetic, biological, and environmental modifiers of disease.

Research Projects

Sex Differences in Cardiac Function

Our recent findings show significant sex- and age-specific differences in baseline left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) with a strong age-dependent increase in LVEF in healthy women, but not in men.

Sex and Gender Differences in Critical Illness

Sex and gender inequalities persist in the provision of intensive care treatment

The Heart-Brain Axis

The female cardiovascular system is more sensitive to stress.

Impact of Sex and Gender on COVID-19 Outcomes

Men are more susceptible to a severe disease course of COVID-19 than women, and worldwide data show that the disease is deadlier in men than in women. 

Cardiac Hypertrophy

Left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) is an example of a heart disease with significant sex-specific differences.

Men’s Health

Life expectancy is shorter in men than in women, and premature mortality is twice as high in men than in women. What are the reasons?

Personalized Medicine In Critically Ill Patients Using Bedside Sonography

Beside sonography is a powerful tool to diagnose and monitor critically ill patients.

Sex and Gender Differences in Myocardial Perfusion

Assessment of sex-specific determinants of myocardial blood flow.

Sex and Gender Differences in Coronary Artery Disease

Coronary artery disease (CAD) differs between women and men in terms of risk factors, clinical presentation, pathophysiology, and prognosis.

Sex, Gender, and the Sympathetic Nervous System

The sympathetic nervous system may play a key role in rendering the female cardiovascular system more susceptible to the detrimental effects of mental stress.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in women

Lack of gender-specific reference values in current guidelines

Women are underrepresented in cardiac rehabilitation programs

Female and male hearts don't age the same

Women comprise less than 24% of participants in all heart-related research studies

Safety and efficacy of cardiovascular drugs have been evaluated predominantly in male populations

More women die of heart disease, yet men are more likely to receive treatment "Yentl syndrom"

Women with myocardial infarction are more likely to experience treatment delays compared with men

Stronger association between stress and cardiovascular risk in women than in men

Sex and Gender Differences in Critical Care have been Ignored For Decades

Women are less often admitted to intensive care units, despite being equally or more severely ill

Male immunity seems to be more likely to cause severe sepsis

There is unfavorable prehospital treatment in women with cardiac arrest, because women receive less often bystander CPR and their cardiac arrest is less often witnessed

The risk of developing hospital-associated acute kidney injury is higher in men than in women

Potential pro-inflammatory properties of estrogen predispose women to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)

Invasive ventilation during ARDS is less protective in women due to sex differences in lung anatomy

Cardiogenic shock is more common in men, but complications occur more often in women

ICU delirium is more prevalent in men. Women seem to suffer more from hypoactive delirium while agitation and hyperactive delirium is more common in men

Group Leaders

Cathérine Gebhard, MD, PhD

Senior Physician/Group Leader

Cathérine’s key areas of expertise include cardiac imaging, interventional cardiology as well as basic and transla­tional research in cardiovascular gender medicine. Cathérine studied medicine and obtained her MD degree at the University of Tübingen (DE) and the University of Western Ontario (CA). She completed her training in Internal Medicine and Cardiology in Switzerland and then specialized in Interventional Cardiology and Cardiac Imaging at the Imperial College London (UK) and the Montreal Heart Institute (CA) where she also completed her PhD in molecular imaging. In 2016 she started her own research group as an SNSF Professor at the University of Zurich. In 2022 Catherine took on a new position as an interventional cardiologist and head of the Women's Heart Center at the University Hospital Inselspital Bern, where she currently focuses on implementing gender-specific medicine into clinical routine. 


Caroline Gebhard, MD

Senior Physician/Group Leader

Caroline Gebhard is a board-certified intensive care physician and anesthesiologist at the University Hospital and the University of Basel. She studied medicine and obtained her MD degree at the University of Guadalajara (Mexico), the Stellenbosch University (South Africa), and the University of Tübingen (DE) and underwent clinical training in cardiac anesthesiology, echocardiography, and intensive care medicine at the Montreal Heart Institute (CA), the Charité University Hospital Berlin (DE), the Triemli Hospital Zurich (CH) and the University Hospital Basel (CH). During her training, she obtained board certification in advanced adult perioperative transesophageal echocardiography and transthoracic echocardiography. Her research focuses on personalized medicine in intensive care medicine. This includes ultrasound and hemodynamic monitoring, as well as sex and gender differences in the treatment and outcomes of the critically ill.