The RSDP is a national career development program launched in 1988 with the goal of developing a cadre of reproductive physician-scientists based in academic departments who could employ cutting-edge cell and molecular technologies to address important problems in the field of obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN). The mentored research experiences this program offers seek to assist junior faculty in their transition to productive, independent physician-scientists who are highly competitive for research funding. As of spring, 2012, approximately 90 scholars have participated in the RSDP. Of those, nearly 90% are active in academia, and 67% have applied for NIH funding (excluding loan repayment applications); approximately two-thirds of those applying have received at least one grant. Many of these individuals have also gone on to assume leadership positions in their respective institutions.
The program accepts approximately four scholars each year for a 5- to 6-year training period. In Phase I of the program, scholars spend 2 to 3 years in intensive basic science training at outstanding research laboratories around the country, under the supervision of experienced mentors. In Phase II, scholars spend an additional 3 years establishing their research programs as junior faculty in a department of OB/GYN.
The RSDP is supported by the NICHD's Fertility and Infertility (FI) Branch (formerly the Reproductive Sciences [RS] Branch) using the Physician Scientist Award (K12) mechanism. The following organizations and corporations have provided additional support for the program throughout the years: the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Bayer HealthCare, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation, the National Cancer Institute, the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Inc., and the Society for Gynecologic Investigation.
Scholars in the program study a broad array of topics related to the reproductive sciences. Recent projects have studied the following:
- Molecular mechanisms of preeclampsia
- The role of transposons and piwi-interacting RNA (piRNA) in gynecological health and disease
- Epigenetics mechanisms involved in the prenatal origins of age-related disease
- Molecular mechanisms of estrogen signaling
- Genetic regulation of gonad development and sexual differentiation
- Epigenetic regulation of innate immunity in pregnancy
- Hormonal prophylaxis of ovarian cancer
The RSDP is based at Washington University and is led by Dr. Kelley Moley. Current scholars are located at the following institutions:
- Albert Einstein College of Medicine
- Columbia University Medical Center
- University of California, Los Angeles, Medical Center
- University of Chicago
- University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics
- University of Pennsylvania Health System
- University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
- Washington University
- Yale University