The University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine has received a $7 million renewal grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to conduct innovative basic and clinical research in the reproductive sciences through 2012.
The grant is part of the NICHD's Specialized Cooperative Centers Program in Reproduction and Infertility Research, a national network of research centers "aimed at improving human reproductive health through accelerated transfer of basic science findings into clinical practice."
One of only 14 national sites, the UIC Center for Women's Health and Reproduction was first funded through an original $7 million, five-year NICHD grant in 2002.
Infertility affects about 6.1 million women and their partners in the United States -- about 10 percent of the reproductive-age population, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
Endometriosis -- a common cause of infertility -- occurs when endometrial tissue grows outside the uterus and results in bleeding, scarring, and pain.
"During the first five years of the grant, we focused on the causes and pathophysiology of endometriosis and began to hone in on some of the mechanisms that might be involved in infertility," said Asgi Fazleabas, director of the UIC Center for Women's Health and Reproduction and professor of physiology in obstetrics and gynecology.
"Understanding the fundamental pathology of the disease is very difficult," said Fazleabas, "because when women are diagnosed they typically have had endometriosis for approximately eight to 11 years and the disease is already established."
Four research projects are funded under the new grant. The principal investigators are Fazleabas; Dr. Richard Leach, professor and director of the division of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at UIC; Dr. Romana Nowak, associate professor of animal science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and Dr. Serdar Bulun, professor and chief of the division of reproductive biology research at Northwestern University.
The translational research projects will help to determine the cause, development and effects of endometriosis on infertility in order to develop possible therapies and to help understand the basic mechanisms associated with embryo implantation and the establishment of pregnancy.
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