The Advisory Council of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) has approved funding to support a Center for Reproduction and Infertility Research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This Center will support research aimed at expanding the science underlying the success or failure of human reproduction with the goal of improving human reproductive health.
The NICHD supports a national network of Centers of Excellence through a program called the Specialized Centers Program in Reproduction and Infertility Research.
Currently, this national network of Centers is located at 14 sites across the country (for more information, visit http://www.nichd.nih.gov/research/supported/SCCPIR.cfm). The new center would be funded for five years starting in 2008 with a projected budget of about $8 million dollars.
The Center for Reproduction and Infertility Research will support a multidisciplinary research team with a common goal of understanding the mechanisms that control maternal-fetal interactions during early pregnancy and to identify factors that underlie infertility in women suffering from endometriosis, a common gynecologic disorder.
The multidisciplinary team will draw expertise from the U. of I. School of Molecular and Cellular Biology in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and the department of veterinary biosciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine. Clinicians from the Emory University Medical School in Atlanta, GA, and a molecular geneticist from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX, will also contribute to the effort.
The U. of I. scientists who will lead synergistic research projects at the Center are: Dr. Milan Bagchi, a professor of molecular and integrative physiology; Dr. Benita Katzenellenbogen, Swanlund professor of molecular and integrative physiology and Swanlund professor of cell and developmental biology; and Dr. Indrani Bagchi, a professor of veterinary biosciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Paul Cooke, professor and Billie Alexander Field Chair in reproductive biology, veterinary biosciences, will lead a microscopy core, which will provide critical support to these research projects. Dr. Robert Taylor, an internationally known clinical scientist and an expert in endometriosis at the Emory University Medical School, and Dr. Francesco DeMayo, a molecular geneticist at the Baylor College of Medicine, will actively collaborate with the U. of I. scientists to achieve the goals of this Center. Dr. Bagchi will function as the Center director and will coordinate research efforts.
A major contribution of the new Center will be its impact on the translational research in the Urbana-Champaign campus. The central goal of the Center is to bring the knowledge gained from basic cell biological studies and unique animal models to the clinical realm to inform the molecular basis of human infertility associated with endometrial dysfunction. This program, therefore, has the potential to serve as a focal point for further development of translational research in biological sciences in the U. of I. campus and will be an excellent fit with the University's current mission of enhancing translational research in biology.
The establishment of the new Center will further stimulate the collaborative research and training in reproductive biology that already exists on this campus.