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ARRA Investments in Reproductive Health


Public Health Burden
For couples to achieve pregnancy, healthy reproductive organs and functions in both men and women are essential.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 7.3 million women ages 15-44 have used infertility services and 3.3--4.7 million men have sought help in having a child.  At the same time, approximately one-half of pregnancies in the United States are unintended.  A variety of contraceptive methods that recognize and meet the needs of both men and women are needed.

Basic Research on Normal Reproductive System Development in Women and Men
Understanding the basic pathways of normal reproductive health is necessary to determine how deviations from the normal pathways can lead to adverse reproductive health outcomes.  Researchers areas include, among others, egg and sperm development, hormonal pathways, and implantation mechanisms.
  • Research on the immune interactions between the placenta and the pregnant woman may lead to a better understanding of adverse conditions in pregnancy.1
  • Characterizing the role of specific signaling pathways in early vertebrate embryonic development may shed light on ovarian failure and infertility.2
  • Researchers will define how certain carbohydrate molecules affect hormone function, to better understand reproductive development, and development of breast and prostate cancer.3
  • Researchers are also examining how patterns of epigenetic marks are erased and rewritten during germ cell development and early embryogenesis, and compare these patterns in normally-conceived embryos to those in embryos generated via hormone-assisted reproduction.4
  • Scientists will assess how a specific gene helps trigger the development of stem cells into sperm, which could lead to new treatments for male infertility or new contraceptive targets.5
  • By identifying factors in the egg that are responsible for nuclear programming, the results may lead to enhanced methods for generating stem cells, and for developing animal models.6
Contraception
The United States has set a national goal of decreasing unintended pregnancies to 30 percent by 2010.  A variety of contraceptive methods that recognize and meet the needs of both men and women are needed.
  • Consistent and correct use of condoms can be effective in preventing sexually transmitted diseases as well as pregnancy, yet problems with condom use are common.  Researchers will address condom use problems in young adult men.7
  • To predict the effects of policies (price subsidies, information campaigns) on contraceptive choice and reduction of unintended pregnancy, researchers are conducting data analysis and modeling to understand women’s choices among contraceptives.8
  • Researchers are examining the role of a specific protein in sperm development to better understand male infertility and also to help develop new, reversible male contraception methods without the side effects found with hormonal approaches.9
Overcoming Infertility
According to the CDC, 7.3 million women ages 15-44 have used infertility services and 3.3–4.7 million men have sought help in having a child.
  • Investigators will test whether the failure of specialized testicular cells to clear naturally dying cells has a role in male infertility and other diseases, including testicular cancer.10
  • In another study, researchers will test a non-invasive method of identifying those embryos created with in vitro fertilization that have the greatest potential for successful implantation.11
  • Scientists will test a way to preserve precursor cells of sperm in male children and adolescents before cancer treatment, so that they may be able to have children later in life.12
  • Scientists will test ways to improve transplantation of preserved ovarian tissue back into women and girls whose cancer treatments made them infertile, to enable them to have children.13



  1. 2R01HD037120-06A2 -- Uterine NK Cells in Primate Pregnancy -- Golos, Thaddeus (WI)
  2. 2R01HD032105-11A2 -- Molecular Basis of Neural Development in Xenopus -- Brivanlou, Ali (NY)
  3. 2R01HD058474-19A1 -- Glycoprotein Hormone Oligosaccharides -- Baenziger, Jacques (MO)
  4. 1RC2HD064459-01 -- Epigenetic dynamics of developing germ cells and early embryos -- Hannon, Gregory (NY)
  5. 1R01HD061575-01 -- Biology of the ErbB Gene Family in Spermatogonial Development -- Hamra, F. Kent (TX)
  6. 1RC1HD063371-01 -- Genetic and Molecular Approach to Identify Ooplasm Reprogramming Factors -- Latham, Keith (PA)
  7. 1R21HD060447-01 -- Barriers to Correct Condom Use -- Janssen, Erick (IN)
  8. 1R03HD058976-01A1 -- Subjective Expectations and Health-Related Behavior -- Delavande, Adeline (CA)
  9. 1R01HD057118-01A2 -- Catenins: A role in spermatogenesis and sperm maturation -- Rao, Manjeet (TX)
  10. 1R01HD057242-01A2 -- Sertoli Cell Mediated Engulfment of Apoptotic Germ Cells -- Lysiak, Jeffrey (VA)
  11. 1R21HD054956-01A2 -- Noninvasive assessment of embryo implantation potential using 1H NMR metabonomics -- Shen, Shehua (CA)
  12. 1R21HD061301-01 -- Optimizing Spermatogonial Transplantation for Fertility Preservation -- Shetty, Gunapala (TX)
  13. 1R21HD061277-01 -- Experimental engineering of ovarian grafting to promote angiogenesis for fertility -- Gosden, Roger (NY)


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Page Last Updated on June 30, 2018 NIH...Turning Discovery Into Health®