Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Research Awards

Oncofertility Consortium (Woodruff)

The Oncofertility Consortium was created at Northwestern University through a “Roadmap” grant from the NIH Common fund. The intent of the “Roadmap” grants were to begin to make progress on the most intractable research issues in investigators fields. Dr. Woodruff identified the issues related to fertility following cancer treatment as a significant problem for which a solution would necessitate a wide range of collaborating specialists.

The overall purpose of this interdisciplinary research consortium has been to focus on the fertility threat posed by cancer treatment and to serve as an authoritative voice for research, clinical practice and training that occurs at the intersection of oncology, pediatrics, reproductive science and medicine, biomechanics, materials science, mathematics, social science, bioethics, religion, policy research, reproductive health law, cognitive and learning science in a new discipline called Oncofertility. The Oncofertility Consortium will continue its work under newly developed grants that will also expand the population it seeks to help to those with non-cancerous diseases whose effects or treatment may threaten future fertility.

Uterine Leiomyoma Research Center Program (Bulun)

The Uterine Leiomyoma Research Center Program is the only NIH-funded fibroid research program in the world. Dr. Serdar Bulun joined together with Drs. Julie Kim, Debabrata Chakravarti, JianJun Wei, Erica Marsh, and Romana Nowak (University of Illinois) in 2005 to build a comprehensive and innovative research program for basic and clinical investigation of uterine fibroids. In 2009 this group received NIH funding for these efforts which has been used to demonstrate the roles of progesterone, antiprogestins and their receptor (PR) in the nucleus (Project 1), the interaction between phosphoinositol-3-kinase (PI3K) and PR in the cytoplasm (Project 2), and the proliferative effects of extracellular matrix collagen (Project 3) on fibroid growth and published together 41 abstracts and 26 peer-reviewed papers including a recent comprehensive review in the New England Journal of Medicine (in press). The group has also perfected the most clinically relevant models of uterine fibroids including engrafting human tissues and cells under the kidney capsule, primary 3D cultures of fibroid and myometrial cells, and isolation of somatic stem cells via antibody-based sorting.

NICHD Fetal Growth Study (Grobman)

The NICHD Fetal Growth Study is a multicenter observational study supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.  The study is designed to establish a reliable standard for fetal growth in the U.S. population using longitudinally collected two- and three-dimensional fetal anthropometric measurements.  The study began recruiting women with singleton pregnancies in 2009, and was later expanded to include women with twin pregnancies (NICHD Fetal Growth Study -Twin Gestations). The NICHD Fetal Growth Study has completed recruitment for both the singleton and twin portions of the study and will have important implications for clinical practice. 

The Nullip/nuMOM2b (Grobman)

Northwestern University is one of eight sites nationally conducting an NIH funded study looking at specific outcomes from the pregnancy of nulliparous (first time mothers) women under the direction of Dr. William Grobman.  With about 40% of women in the United States being first time mothers, historical data predicting poor outcome in pregnancy for patients is lacking.  The nuMOM2b study aims to enroll 10,000 women across the country to identify why some women experience complications and others do not.  Researchers will collect blood, urine, and vaginal specimens; 2nd and 3rd trimester ultrasound measurements; placental, umbilical cord, and cord blood samples along with subject interviews.

Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units Network (Peaceman)

Northwestern University is a participating site and member of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development's Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units (MFMU) Network under the direction of Dr. Alan Peaceman.

The mission of research conducted by the MFMU Network is to reduce the incidence of prematurity and/or the sequelae of premature birth. Through completion of randomized clinical trials (RCTs or interventional studies) and observational studies, current obstetric care practices are modified and/or new obstetric care trends are initiated based on evidence generated by the research studies, favorably impacting maternal and neonatal outcomes. Since 2001, Northwestern has proudly collaborated with the MFMU Network on such studies as weekly progesterone injections for women with a history of preterm delivery and Beneficial Effects of Antenatal Magnesium Sulfate (BEAM), both of which are now standard of care for pregnant women with indications for their respective uses. Current studies include screening pregnant women for CMV to identify women with an infection in the current pregnancy, ST segment analysis of the FHR as an adjunct to electronic fetal monitoring, observational study of HCV in pregnant women and betamethasone use for women who are highly likely to deliver prematurely between 34 -36 completed weeks.