202101 Pelvic Floor Disorders Network (PFDN)

Program seeks Council approval for a re-competition of the Pelvic Floor Disorders Network (PFDN). The PFDN was established in 2001 based on the critical need for more evidence-based data to guide surgical and non-surgical interventions in this field. For the purpose of this FOA, pelvic floor disorders (PFDs) include non-inflammatory causes of pelvic organ prolapse, urinary incontinence, and fecal incontinence (eg.,exclude IBS and IC). Participation in the clinical protocols planned under this initiative are restricted to adult women as the etiology and treatment of pelvic floor disorders is markedly different in men and children.

The public health impact of pelvic floor disorders is large and growing as the population ages. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) estimates that these disorders affect almost one-quarter of women between the ages of 20 and 80 and projects that up to 58 million women will have at least one pelvic floor disorder in 2050; 41 million with urinary incontinence, 25 million with fecal incontinence, and 9 million with pelvic organ prolapse.

Studies performed by the PFDN have provided substantial advances in our understanding of PFDs with approximately 25% of PFDN publications cited in clinical practice guidelines as determined by the NICHD-conducted Impact Analysis. The network has also developed research tools and approaches that have been adopted by the field. Unfortunately, these studies have confirmed a high recurrence/failure rate for available treatments, underscoring our poor understanding of the pathophysiology and best treatments for these disorders and the need for ongoing, directed NICHD support.

The goal of the proposed initiative is to facilitate interactions between a network of academic centers with the recruitment capabilities and research expertise needed to perform studies under rigorous common protocols that will provide evidence-based clinical answers to both providers and to women more rapidly and efficaciously than would otherwise be possible for an individual clinical research center. Studies will include both careful analysis of standard treatment outcomes as well as the pursuit of translational research using collected data and biospecimens which will inform new treatment approaches.

This proposal aligns with the NICHD Strategic Plan 2020 Theme 2 concentration on “Promoting Gynecologic, Andrologic, and Reproductive Health”. In addition, it aligns with the Gynecologic Health and Disease Branch emphasis on development of safe and effective therapeutics for gynecologic disorders, including pelvic floor dysfunction.

Program Contact

Lisa Halvorson
Gynecologic Health & Disease Branch (GHDB)

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