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Grant boosts women’s health research at College of Medicine

Penn State College of Medicine has received a five-year, $1.7 million grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to continue infertility research. The grant funds Penn State Hershey's continued involvement in a nationwide network of infertility research called the Reproductive Medicine Network (RMN).

Penn State Hershey's RMN site has been funded continuously since 2000 and is led by Dr. Richard Legro, professor of obstetrics and gynecology and public health sciences. Established in 1990, the long-term goal of RMN is to improve the care of women and men with reproductive system disorders.

“What our team, and most importantly our study participants, have accomplished, and what we as a network have accomplished in the last five years is truly remarkable,” Legro said. “We randomized more than 2,500 participants into multiple clinical trials studying human infertility. The success of our large studies shows how prevalent these conditions are in our neighborhood and also the willingness of local couples suffering from infertility to participate in clinical trials.”

Legro is the second longest-serving investigator in the RMN and has been lead investigator on two nationwide infertility trials. These trials tested low cost oral medications to achieve pregnancy in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), with results published in leading medical journals including New England Journal of Medicine. Penn State Hershey was the largest nationwide recruiting site for two trials completed during the last five years, one for infertility due to PCOS and the other for unexplained infertility. The results of these trials will appear in the next two years as the final outcomes of pregnancies are tracked.

New studies will focus on the role of obesity in infertility, male infertility, and in vitro fertilization (IVF). The overall goal of the research is to identify infertility treatments that are affordable and accessible to a wide portion of the U.S. population.

The Penn State Hershey study team includes Jamie Ober, R.N., nurse coordinator; Dr. William Dodson, Dr. Stephanie Estes, and Dr. Carol Gnatuk, members of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology; Allen Kunselman, a biostatistician from the Department of Public Health Sciences; Dr. Roger Ladda, a Pediatric Geneticist and Dr. Ian Paul, a pediatrician;  Dr. Nazia Raja-Khan, a medical endocrinologist. The team also includes Dr. J.C. Trussell, reproductive urologist from SUNY Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, N.Y.

RMN consists of six institutions located throughout the nation, each with a partner institution, as well as a site at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md. for a total of 13 sites across the nation. Penn State Hershey's partner site is University of Rochester.

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