Gynecologic Health and Disease Research at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development: A Scientific Vision

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In May 2016, the newly formed Gynecologic Health and Disease Branch in the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development invited experts to a 2-day meeting aimed at identification of emerging opportunities in gynecologic investigation. Four primary disorders were chosen for emphasis because they represent the majority of the current Gynecologic Health and Disease Branch portfolio: uterine leiomyomas, endometriosis, pelvic floor disorders, and gynecologic pain conditions. Discussions generated a set of seven cross-cutting themes, which encompass both gaps in our current knowledge and potential directions for further research. These themes formed a continuum for understanding these disorders beginning with the need for classification systems, improved understanding of the natural history and etiology of these disorders, development of novel diagnostics, identification of opportunities for prevention, and the generation of new treatments using cutting-edge approaches. Along with these themes, three broad strategies were proposed to facilitate future research. First, investigators should improve utilization of existing research resources and focus on developing new resources to include databases, biospecimen repositories, animal models, and patient cohorts. Second, multidisciplinary scientific partnerships should be strengthened to bring new insights and approaches to gynecologic research. Third, patient and health care provider education must be promoted to ensure timely and accurate diagnosis and optimize treatment of gynecologic disorders. This article provides a summary of the workshop themes and suggestions, several of which have already been implemented through the development of program priorities and funding opportunity announcements aimed at improving women's reproductive health.

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