Gynecologic Health and Disease Branch (GHDB)

Tissue under MicroscopeOverview/Mission

GHDB aims to improve women’s reproductive health by guiding and supporting gynecologic research and career development programs with the vision of a future in which women lead lives free of the effects of gynecologic disorders. The branch portfolio includes studies of healthy functioning endometrium and menstruation, as well as gynecologic disorders including endometriosis, adenomyosis, fibroids, and polycystic ovary syndrome. In addition to abnormal vaginal bleeding and pain throughout the reproductive lifespan, these disorders may affect fertility potential, delay pregnancy, and contribute to maternal morbidity and adverse pregnancy outcomes.

The branch has an interest in pelvic organ prolapse as well as urinary and fecal incontinence related to pelvic floor dysfunction. Obstetric fistula and female genital cutting, which affect international and U.S. immigrant communities, are also areas of interest.

Highlights

  • Seminars in Reproductive Medicine. GHDB chief Dr. Lisa Halvorson served as one of the guest editors as well as author of two articles in the November 2020 issue: New Perspectives on Adenomyosis (PMID: 33232984). Adenomyosis, defined as the presence of endometrial tissue within the uterine muscle (myometrium), is associated with pelvic pain, pressure symptoms on the bowel and bladder, abnormal uterine bleeding, infertility, and pregnancy loss. The issue is a useful resource for clinicians and investigators and encourages increased study of this common disorder.
  • Progression of Gynecologic Cancers: Report of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and NICHD workshop. GHDB and the Division of Cancer Prevention and the Division of Cancer Biology at NCI organized a workshop in April 2019 to explore current insights into the progression of gynecologic cancers from benign conditions. This report highlights the key questions and current challenges that emerged from the working group discussions and presents potential research opportunities that may advance our understanding of the progression of gynecologic benign conditions to cancer. PMID: 32835714
  • Revisiting Menstruation: The Misery, Mystery, and Marvel. GHDB Program Officer Dr. Candace Tingen and Chief Dr. Lisa Halvorson are joined by NICHD Director Dr. Diana W. Bianchi to discuss the need for renewed research about menstruation and an end for stigma surrounding the topic. PMID: 32709301
  • Menstruation: Science and Society. Speakers from the Menstruation: Science and Society meeting convened by GHDB in 2018 provide an enhanced meeting report, capturing the spectrum from when the basic processes of menstruation commence and role of stem and progenitor cells in monthly regeneration to how dysregulation leads to abnormal uterine bleeding and other menstruation-related disorders such as adenomyosis, endometriosis, and fibroids to the clinical challenges in diagnostics, treatment, and patient and societal education. The work concludes with an overview of how the global agenda concerning menstruation, and specifically menstrual health and hygiene, are gaining momentum, ranging from increasing investment in addressing menstruation-related barriers facing girls in schools in low- to middle-income countries to the more recent “menstrual equity” and “period poverty” movements spreading across high-income countries. PMID: 32707266
  • Voices for Pelvic Floor Disorders: Information for New Moms : NICHD grantees at the University of Utah worked with the American Urogynecology Society to create a series of videos and educational information about changes to pelvic floor health that new moms may experience. The information, available in English and Spanish, includes some common changes, possible symptoms, and tips for when to talk with a healthcare provider. The series also offers stories from moms about their experiences and the treatments that worked for them.
  • How to Work Out Your Pelvic Floor (and Why Everyone Should)  : Dr. Donna Mazloomdoost, program director of the NICHD Pelvic Floor Disorders Network, offers insight on the importance of a strong pelvic floor and suggestions for how women can improve their pelvic floor strength.
  • Menstruation as a Diagnostic Tool for Women's Health (Podcast): GHDB program officer Dr. Candace Tingen spoke with NICHD Milestones about the science behind using a woman's menstrual cycle as a diagnostic tool.
  • Gynecologic Health and Disease Research at NICHD: A Scientific Vision (PDF 2 MB)
    Learn more about the scientific portfolio of the branch and its planned research directions.
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