The NICHD Contraceptive Discovery and Development Branch (CDDB) (formerly the Contraception and Reproductive Health (CRH) Branch) established the PFDN in 2001 to encourage collaborative research on pelvic floor disorders (PFDs) and to improve patient care. PFDs affect as many as one-third of U.S. women and include pelvic organ prolapse, urinary and fecal incontinence, and other sensory and emptying abnormalities of the lower urinary tract and the gastrointestinal tract.
The PFDN includes eight clinical centers and a Data Coordinating Center (DCC) located at universities and medical centers across the United States. Leadership at each clinical center is provided by a Principal Investigator (PI), who is a practicing physician with substantial experience in treating female PFDs. A research nurse coordinator oversees the progress of the PFDN’s clinical trials under the supervision of the PI.
The PFDN is funded through a Cooperative Clinical Research award mechanism (U10 and U01). A steering committee guides the development and conduct of research protocols and the preparation of publications for the PFDN. The steering committee is composed of the PIs from each clinical center, the DCC, a steering committee chair, and NICHD staff.
PFDN research aims to inform health care providers about diagnosing, care, and treatment of women with PFDs, while improving the quality of life for women with PFDs and their families.
General areas of research include observational and clinical studies examining the effectiveness of surgical and nonsurgical interventions for PFDs, including pharmacological agents, short- and long-term anatomical or functional outcomes of interventions (e.g., quality of life, sexual function, urinary function, and gastrointestinal function), and preventive strategies.
Current Network studies include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Brown University/Women and Infants Hospital of Rhode Island
- Cleveland Clinic
- Duke University
- University of Alabama at Birmingham
- University of California, San Diego
- University of New Mexico
- University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia)
- University of Pittsburgh/Magee Womens Hospital
RTI International is the DCC for the PFDN.