In 1993, congress passed Public Law 103-43 directing the NICHD to fund contraceptive research centers and to focus the efforts of these centers on research that may lead to new contraceptive products. Because the complexity of contraceptive research and development could severely limit progress achieved by individual investigators working alone, the Institute funds the CDRCP through a specialized cooperative research center award mechanism (U54), in which NIH scientific and programmatic staff are substantially involved with the awardees during performance of the activity.
Through its Contraceptive Discovery and Development Branch (CDDB) (formerly the Contraception and Reproductive Health Branch), the NICHD supports multiple centers of research and technical service core facilities. The centers are interactively organized to allow research on discovering and/or developing promising new leads for regulation of fertility, as well as additional relevant projects. Individual projects focus on basic, preclinical, or clinical research, or on a combination of these areas. The CDRCP also serves as a national resource for supporting the career development of young scientists who elect to pursue research in fertility regulation.
Each Center addresses three or more projects devoted to basic or clinical research on new contraceptives. These projects rely on a variety of approaches, such as:
- Inhibition of spermatogenesis or sperm function via a number of possible mechanisms, including phosphodiesterase inhibitors, calcium-channel blockers, adherence junctions, and adhesion molecules;
- Hormonal suppression of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis in men or women; development of novel vaginal delivery systems for drugs that inhibit ovulation; and
- Analysis of paracrine regulation of oocyte development by cumulus cells and mechanism of factors regulating follicular rupture.
The Centers also address issues such as novel delivery methods for contraception, dual-use compounds (protect against sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy) for women, translational research aimed at product identification and optimization for male contraception, and non-hormonal methods of ovulation inhibition for contraception.
The Centers share common resources and research information throughout the five-year funding period. Within the Centers, emphasizing training opportunities is also a priority.
- Oregon Health Sciences University
- Population Council
- University of Kansas Medical Center
- University of Washington