Formerly the Specialized Cooperative Centers Program in Reproduction and Infertility Research (SCCPIR)
The NCTRI, originally called the Specialized Cooperative Centers Program in Reproduction and Infertility Research (SCCPIR), is a national network of research-based centers that promotes multidisciplinary interactions between basic and clinical scientists interested in establishing high quality translational research programs in the reproductive sciences. The centers also serve as national resources for the training and career development of young scientists electing to pursue careers conducting research in high priority areas of reproduction and infertility. Such a program forms a national network of Centers that facilitates and accelerates bidirectional knowledge transfer between the laboratory and clinic, with the ultimate goal of improving human reproductive health through enhanced communication, innovation and research excellence.
The first request for applications was issued in 1996, and the first four awards were issued in 1998. Currently, the NCTRI network of P50 centers is located at 11 sites across the country. In addition, R01 projects are funded at Johns Hopkins University and the Baylor College of Medicine. The program now includes 8 sites around the country, and it is supported by the NICHD
Fertility and Infertility (FI) Branch through a P50 funding mechanism. A committee, comprising each site's principal investigator and the FI Branch project scientist, meets yearly to discuss the program's research and collaborative efforts.
Each center supports one- to two-year pilot projects that may be used to support new investigators, established investigators, or collaborative projects involving investigators from different NCTRI centers. An Outreach/Education Core supports activities related to community outreach and education.
The research activities that comprise the NCTRI center grants must be consistent with the broad research mission of the FI Branch; these include (but are not limited to) those described below:
Reproductive Developmental Biology: origins and differentiation of germ cells; the endocrine, paracrine and physiologic mechanisms involved in gametogenesis, including germ cell-somatic cell interactions, germ cell proliferation and apoptosis, blood-testis barrier formation, and germ cell transplantation; fertilization, including sperm motility and capacitation, zona pellucida binding, and mechanisms to block polyspermy; pre-implantation embryonic development, including zygotic gene activation, mechanisms regulating embryonic stem cell self-renewal and differentiation, and maintenance of stem cell pluripotency; use of genetically modified stem cells to treat animal models of reproductive disorders impacting fertility
Reproductive Tract Biology and Physiology: folliculogenesis, including studies addressing intraovarian control of follicle selection and atresia by growth factors, cytokines, and their respective binding proteins and receptor antagonists; luteogenesis and luteolysis, including intraovarian mechanisms that control luteal life span; implantation, including cell-to-cell interactions and embryo-uterine communication; the role of angiogenesis in ovarian and endometrial function; correlation of segmental gene expression with structure and function of the oviduct and epididymis
Reproductive Endocrinology and Neuroendocrinology: fundamental mechanisms of hormone synthesis, secretion, regulation and action in the context of reproduction; developmental control of GnRH neuronal migration and targeting; intraneuronal mechanisms and glia-neuron interactions controlling pulsatile GnRH secretion; intrapituitary mechanisms governing gonadotropin secretion; identification of elements and factors controlling gene transcription including ensembles of co-activators and co-repressors, and identification of signaling molecules and pathways mediating hormone action; interaction of the immune and neuroendocrine systems in controlling fertility; mechanisms by which nutritional modification alters the hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal endocrine axis
Reproductive Genetics and Epigenetics: genetics of sex determination including clarification of the functional interactions between the known sex determination genes; genes, pathways, and epigenetic mechanisms that are important in reproduction, including those involved in imprinting of genes, differential expression of maternally vs. paternally inherited alleles, and DNA methylation during gametogenesis and embryogenesis; and elucidation of the genes, genetic, and epigenetic mechanisms responsible for normal and skewed X chromosome inactivation and the epigenetic modification in gametogenesis that leads to transgeneration inheritance of health and disease
Reproductive Medicine: etiology, pathophysiology, prevention and treatment of male or female infertility, with particular emphasis on defining those conditions that are either genetically based or may have a significant epigenetic component; relation of endometriosis and uterine leiomyomas to infertility, diagnosis, management and treatment of other benign gynecologic diseases; research leading to improved outcomes across the spectrum of assisted reproductive technologies, as well as development of new approaches for assisted reproduction; use of genomics and proteomics to develop novel diagnostics for reproductive diseases and disorders particularly in adolescents; role of parental health on gamete quality and function
The NCTRI has several research focus groups to promote interactions among investigators from different centers on specific topics. Focus group meetings provide an arena for investigators to present their unpublished research findings and to develop pilot collaborative projects. Current focus groups are interested in the following areas:
- Endometrium, Endometriosis and Implantation/Placentation
- Male Fertility and Infertility
- Ovarian Follicular and Oocyte Health
- Steroids, Metabolism and Female Reproduction
The NICHD, through the NCTRI program, also has supported or presently supports several research resources, listed below. The NCTRI program also supports the
Ovarian Kaleidoscope Database
, which contains information regarding the biological function, expression pattern, and regulation of genes expressed in the ovary. It also provides information on gene sequences, chromosomal localization, human and murine mutation phenotypes, and biomedical publication links.