Item of Interest: NICHD announces gynecologic health and disease research themes and scientific vision

Friday, June 8, 2018
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The Gynecologic Health and Disease Branch (GHDB) of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) recently published its scientific vision, Gynecologic Health and Disease Research at NICHD (PDF 1.6 MB). The document summarizes its research themes, which provide direction for future research. Established in 2012, GHDB supports research on gynecologic health throughout the reproductive lifespan.

“Our mission is to improve women’s reproductive health by guiding and supporting research and career development programs,” said Lisa Halvorson, M.D., chief of GHDB. “We’re aiming for a future where women can lead lives free of the effects of gynecologic disorders.”

The branch’s scientific vision addresses research gaps and opportunities identified in an earlier NICHD-wide scientific vision statement, a public request for information, and a GHDB scientific vision meeting that included experts from diverse research backgrounds.

The GHDB meeting identified the following research needs: 1) classifying gynecologic conditions, 2) knowing when they start and how they progress, 3) understanding their causes, 4) developing better and earlier diagnostics, 5) learning how to prevent gynecologic conditions, 6) developing new treatments, and 7) applying the latest research tools and advances to gynecologic health.

The GHDB scientific vision also proposes several strategies to implement these research directions, including: 1) using and generating research resources, such as biorepositories, 2) developing and strengthening collaborations with relevant experts outside the field, including cancer specialists and biomedical engineers, and 3) educating patients and healthcare providers, which can address stigmas and reduce time to diagnosis.

The branch funds studies on menstrual disorders, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, adenomyosis, ovarian cysts, polycystic ovary syndrome, and pelvic floor disorders, as well as gynecologic pain syndromes, including pelvic pain, vulvodynia, and dysmenorrhea.

GHDB also supports gynecologic areas that are historically overlooked or underfunded. These topics include socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic disparities in reproductive health outcomes and obstetric fistula  and female genital cutting, which are relevant to international and immigrant communities. 

These themes and strategies will inform the branch’s funding portfolio in coming years and help improve the quality of life for women of all ages and backgrounds.

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About the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD): NICHD conducts and supports research in the United States and throughout the world on fetal, infant and child development; maternal, child and family health; reproductive biology and population issues; and medical rehabilitation. For more information, visit NICHD’s website.