RSDP is a national career development program launched in 1988 with the goal of developing a cadre of reproductive physician-scientists based in academic departments who could employ cutting-edge cell and molecular technologies to address important problems in the field of obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN). RSDP’s mentored research experiences assist junior faculty in their transition to productive, independent physician-scientists who are highly competitive for research funding. As of spring 2016, nearly 100 scholars have participated in RSDP. Of those, approximately 90% are active in academia, and 71% of scholars have applied for NIH funding (excluding loan repayment applications). One-half of those applying have received at least one grant. Many of these individuals also have gone on to assume leadership positions in their respective institutions.
The program accepts approximately four scholars each year for a 5- to 6-year training period. In Phase I, scholars spend 2 to 3 years in intensive basic science training at research laboratories around the country, under the supervision of experienced mentors. In Phase II, scholars spend an additional 3 years establishing their research programs as junior faculty in an OB/GYN department.
RSDP is supported by NICHD's Fertility and Infertility Branch (FIB), using the K12 mechanism. The following organizations and corporations have provided additional support for the program throughout the years: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Society for Reproductive Medicine, American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Bayer HealthCare, Burroughs Wellcome Fund, March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation, National Cancer Institute, Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, Inc., and Society for Gynecologic Investigation.
RSDP scholars study a broad array of topics related to the reproductive sciences. Some examples of recent project topics include:
- Molecular mechanisms of preeclampsia
- The role of transposons and piwi-interacting RNA in gynecological health and disease
- Epigenetics mechanisms involved in the prenatal origins of age-related disease
- Molecular mechanisms of estrogen signaling
- Genetic regulation of gonad development and sexual differentiation
- Epigenetic regulation of innate immunity in pregnancy
- Hormonal prophylaxis of ovarian cancer