Our research divisions and their primary interests

Family Planning and Preventive Services

The Family Planning division is a member of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) contraceptive network and performs multi-centered trials of new and evolving contraceptive techniques. It also evaluates approaches to improved abortion care, and innovations in reproductive health screening.

Gynecologic Oncology

Research includes ovarian cancer, chemotherapy resistance, clinical trials for gynecological cancers and Human Papillomavirus (HPV), investigating the development of cervical dysplasia or cancer. Ongoing clinical research focuses on the epidemiologic evaluation of gynecologic cancers.

Maternal-Fetal Medicine (MFM)

As one of 14 of the nation’s premier perinatal centers participating in the NICHD Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units (MFMU) Network, CUMC develops and performs large multi-centered clinical trials in perinatal research, with special emphasis on developing strategies for the prevention of pre-term birth. This project represents the most prestigious investigative group in obstetrics in the United States, and has led to discoveries that have changed clinical protocols throughout the country. The MFM division is a participant in the NIH sponsored study to develop a national ethnic- and race-specific standard for ultrasound determined fetal growth in both singletons and twins. In addition CUMC is one of 8 centers participating in the NICHD study determining predictors of poor pregnancy outcomes in nulliparous women. This study will recruit over 10,000 such patients. The division has strong collaborative research with other schools and departments including the Mailman School of Public Health, Medical Genetics, and Pediatrics. In collaboration with the School of Engineering and the department of pathology, the division has established a unique multidisciplinary team studying the role of the cervix in preterm birth.

Reproductive Genetics

CUMC has also been a leader in this area. The division has pioneered the development of first-trimester screening, multi-fetal pregnancy reduction, and, most recently completed the largest evaluation of microarray technology for prenatal diagnosis. This work is continuing with the development of a follow-up component to determine the phenotype of infants diagnosed in-utero with microdeletions and duplications. As part of this study, the division will develop a national registry of these cases.

Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility

Recent investigations in this division include the examination of celiac disease and infertility; Hodgkins Disease and ovarian reserve; ovarian reserve among breast cancer patients receiving chemotherapy; and the validation and clinical use of the anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) assay. The division hosts one of the largest egg donation programs in the country and clinical research related to recipients and egg donors is regularly performed. The Center for Women’s Reproductive Care has the performed the most assisted reproduction cycles in North America for patients infected with HIV, leading to regular publications related to their pregnancy outcomes and their clinical experience. Faculty in the division also have an active collaboration with the Department of Regenerative Medicine, and Genetics and Development, as demonstrated by 1) ongoing research on deriving a human embryonic stem cell line from non-viable embryos; and 2) research generated by Dr. Nataki Douglas’ Reproductive Scientist Development Program Fellowship focused on the molecular biology underlying reproductive tract anomalies.

Collaboration between our faculty and other institutions/sponsors includes: 1) human egg donation for the generation of diabetes specific embryonic stem cells, supported by a grant from the New York Stem Cell Foundation and the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center at CUMC (leading to a publication in Nature in 2011); 2) fertility preservation for women with newly diagnosed cancer, in partnership with Fertile Hope; 3) the role of notch regulated angiogenesis in female reproduction with studies performed in collaboration with University of Valencia.

Reproductive Sciences

This division focuses on the basic science of reproduction, reproductive disorders, early development, and gynecological tumors. Recent discoveries in the division have enhanced our understanding of reproduction with implications for clinical care, including findings on cervical insufficiency, successful parturition (completion of pregnancy), preeclampsia, and tumor angiogenesis. Discoveries in the area of gynecological oncology include development of Notch inhibitors meant to target tumor angiogenesis in ovarian cancer. The role of early cardiovascular development for successful human embryonic development is highlighted by findings on how aberrant gene activity can impact lymphatic development that complicate development of the embryo.