201610 Technologies to Improve Diagnosis, Monitoring, and Treatment of Diseases and Disorders in Infertility and Reproductive Health; and in Obstetric, Pediatric and Neonatal Critical Care Settings

Despite major advances in biotechnology, nanoparticle, microfluidics, and mobile technologies, research and development of new/innovative point of care (POC) devices and instruments (or improvement of existing ones) for use in the clinical and critical care settings has been limited. Currently, few POC devices are available in infertility clinical settings for diagnosis, monitoring, and active management of treatment. Other populations with similar need for application of new technologies are critically ill neonatal, pediatric and obstetrical patients who are particularly fragile, needing careful monitoring, fine-tuning of their care, and timely interventions as conditions change. The equipment, instruments, and medical devices used in critical care obstetrics and for neonates are often miniaturized versions of those used for older age group patients, and would benefit from the application of technological advances specifically designed for this setting.

The goal of this initiative is to support research using advanced technologies (e.g., bio-chips, microfluidics, and mobile technologies) to develop novel point-of-care (POC) devices and in both clinical and critical care setting to improve diagnosis and management and treatment of men and women with infertility and other reproductive disorders, as well as neonates, children and pregnant women with diseases and disorders in the critical care setting.

Development of POC technology has the potential to: 1) increase accessibility to novel technologies for disease diagnosis; 2) improve real-time detection of clinical laboratory measures/biomarkers; 3) enable rapid, standardized, and cost-effective diagnosis and management; 4) improve assay/test throughput, decrease assay turn-around times; reduce delays in initiation of therapy; 5) enhance communication of test results with multiple parties, among other advantages.

Based on the benefits listed above, these technologies have the potential to play a pivotal role in personalizing medicine, increasing accessibility, improving healthcare delivery, and, ultimately, reducing healthcare costs. While these tools may be developed for clinical application, it is possible that some could enhance the research enterprise by being used "onsite" for clinical research and trials. Additional benefits of POC-related tools and technologies in clinical research include: easier recruitment, baseline, and follow-up measurements, expedited patient ascertainment and analysis, more rapid dispensation of interventions, better quality control and monitoring of study compliance. Utilization of POC technology could also allow for patients or research participants to be enrolled in remote, low-resource locations or research poor environments.

This proposed concept aligns with the NICHD Vision areas of Reproduction, Pregnancy and Pregnancy Outcomes, and Plasticity and Rehabilitation.

Program Contact

Esther Eisenberg
Pregnancy and Perinatology Branch/Fertility and Infertility Branch


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