Item of Interest: NICHD announces funding for two fibroid research centers

Efforts will address health disparities of uterine fibroids

Seated person talking to health care professional in white lab coat.
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The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has awarded funds for two new Specialized Centers for Research on Health Disparities in Uterine Leiomyoma, representing a $15 million investment designed to advance studies of uterine fibroids. The NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health also contributed funding to the project.

Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous tumors that grow in or on the wall of the uterus. They may cause pain or abnormal bleeding from the uterus and make it difficult to achieve or maintain a pregnancy. Roughly 70% of White women and 80 to 90% of Black women will get fibroids in their lifetime. Compared to White women, however, Black women have more severe and faster growing fibroids, a greater number of fibroids, and a greater likelihood of recurring fibroids. They are also more likely than White women to experience severe fibroid symptoms, more likely to be hospitalized because of them, twice as likely to develop infertility, and more likely to have a hysterectomy.

Erica Marsh, M.D., will lead a center at the University of Michigan to examine the differences in fibroids severity and symptoms between Black and White women, potential differences in when they begin treatment, and how life stressors may affect fibroid growth and progression. The researchers plan to develop an electronic health intervention to improve patient experiences and care.

Elizabeth Stewart, M.D., will lead the other center at the Mayo Clinic to advance efforts to diagnose patients with fibroids earlier, identify barriers that make it difficult for patients to receive care, and increase communication between patients and health care providers. The researchers aim to develop patient education resources on fibroids and distribute them to Black communities in rural Mississippi and urban Florida to get patients into care earlier. They will also examine whether the health care system is contributing to the disparities in fibroids and use artificial intelligence to examine electronic health care records, genetic variations, and other factors that increase fibroid risk to improve the diagnosis of fibroids.

Each center will receive approximately $1.5 million annually for five years.

Reference:

RFA-HD-24-005: Specialized Centers for Research on Health Disparities in Uterine Leiomyoma (SCHDUL). May 17, 2023.

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