The NICHD relies on several organizational units to study different aspects of contraception, from the biological mechanisms of different methods to the relevant decisions and behaviors of individuals and couples. The information below describes a few of these activities.
Much of the Institute's research on contraceptive agents and their evaluation is done through the Contraceptive Discovery & Development Branch (CDDB). The Branch is the largest source of support for research on contraception within the federal government. It has responsibility for contraception research and development and for contraceptive and reproductive evaluation.
Using a combination of grants and contracts, the Branch supports and/or conducts the following activities:
The CDDB addresses many of these research topics through cooperative agreements with research centers and research networks. These collaborative approaches are described in the Other Activities and Advances section.
The Institute's Population Dynamics Branch (PDB) funds studies of sexual behaviors and their relationship to disease prevention in a variety of populations. This includes basic and intervention research on the demographic, social, and behavioral aspects of the sexual transmission of HIV and other STDs. One focus of Branch-funded research is the interrelationships among pregnancy, pregnancy prevention, and HIV/STD prevention. An example of this interrelationship is the use of dual protection against unwanted pregnancy and infection.
At the Fertility and Infertility (FI) Branch, the mission is to alleviate infertility, discover new leads on contraceptives, and expand basic scientific knowledge about human reproduction. A current area of investigation is the use of certain hormonal contraception methods to treat reproductive and gynecological diseases.
The Section on Molecular Endocrinology (SME), part of the Institute's Division of Intramural Research (DIR), investigates the molecular basis of peptide hormone control of gonadal function, with particular emphasis on the structure and regulation of the luteinizing hormone and prolactin (PRL) receptor (PRLR) genes, concentrating studies on the function and regulation of gonadotropin-regulated testicular RNA helicase (GRTH/DDX25), an essential posttranscriptional regulator of spermatogenesis that was discovered, cloned, and characterized in their laboratory. The various functions of GRTH/DDX25 provide fertile ground for the development of a male contraceptive.
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