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Women's reproductive health & gynecological oncology

There are several lines of research in women's reproductive health. Our researchers are focused on the following studies:

  • Treatments for abnormal Pap smears (Shier)
  • Assessment of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinations (Shier)
  • Minimally invasive surgery techniques for abdominal hysterectomy and uterine fibroids (Nitsch, Wong, Liu, Lie)
  • The impact of bacterial vaginosis on gynecological procedures
  • The use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-direct thrombus imaging for assessment of lesion response to standard treatment in endometriosis
  • Better approaches to education in obstetrics and gynecology (Shime, Pittini, Bodley, Blake, Kung):
    • teaching invasive obstetrical procedures
    • mentoring residents
    • determining barriers to promotion

We are also involved in collaborations with several programs:

  • Neurosciences: The relationship between estrogen and memory loss (Blake, Tierney)
  • Gynecologic oncology: Clinical trials to test treatments for gynecologic cancers and assess fertility-sparing surgery for cervical cancer (Covens, Osborne)

Our oncologists (Covens, Osborne, Shier, Kupets) are a major part of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG). They are involved in the use of several chemotherapeutic regimes in a variety of gynecological malignancies, including:

  • The development of the HPV vaccine (Shier)
  • The establishment of clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) to assist in decision-making about appropriate care for patients with cancer (Kupets)

Our reproductive biology division is active in several areas internally and in collaboration with several other university departments, through research studies including:

  • The examination of early human embryonic molecular expression of immune modulators to understand immune tolerance of the human fetus (Librach)
  • The effects of the maternal immune system on conditions later in pregnancy from recurrent pregnancy loss to preeclampsia (Librach)
  • Molecular markers of polycystic ovary syndrome and sperm developmental markers (Librach)
  • Recurrent pregnancy loss from the following perspectives:
    • immunologic (Librach)
    • genetic (Sierra)
    • placentation (Dixon)
  • Fertility preservation for patients with cancer (Glass)

We are involved in several clinical trials on methods to improve in vitro fertilization (IVF) outcome by investigating markers of embryo viability, laser-assisted hatching and sperm DNA fragmentation.

We also have several research projects on the psychosocial aspects of infertility (Silverman) and an active research program in stem cells derived from human umbilical cords (Librach). In addition, we are involved in investigating the expression of genetic factors by microarray analysis in women with recurrent miscarriage and implantation failure (Sierra).