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NIH grant to support Translational Research Center for PCOS

RICHMOND, Va. (May 12, 2008) The Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine has received a competitive grant totaling nearly $6 million from the National Institutes of Healths National Institute on Child Health & Human Development to examine polycystic ovary syndrome, a disorder of the endocrine system that affects as many as 5 million women.

Polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, causes hormonal imbalances leading to irregular menstrual cycles, excess facial and body hair, weight gain and adult acne. Women with PCOS are at high risk for developing Type II diabetes and at increased risk for cardiovascular disease.

The five-year grant will support an interdisciplinary and translational research center in PCOS, making VCU one of only15 Specialized Cooperative Centers Program in Reproduction and Infertility Research (SCCPRIR) in the country.

This research program initiative expands the existing PCOS program at VCU, allowing interdisciplinary and collaborative studies with partnering institutions, and will enhance our ability to bring research discoveries from the laboratory bench quickly to the clinical care of women with PCOS, said John Nestler, M.D., vice chair of the Department of Internal Medicine and chair of the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism at the VCU School of Medicine. Nestler, a pioneer in PCOS research, is the primary investigator for the project.

VCUs SCCPRIR program focuses on the use of genetics to identify risk for PCOS in an individual woman and pharmacogenomics, designed to identify the optimal treatment for an individual patient, he said.

The SCCPRIR is administered by the Reproductive Sciences Branch of the NICHD, and provides funding for a limited number of research centers in the reproductive sciences. The purpose of these centers is to provide an arena for multidisciplinary interactions among basic and clinical scientists interested in establishing high-quality programs in reproduction and infertility research. The centers also serve as national resources for the training and career development of new scientists electing to pursue research in high priority areas of reproduction and infertility research.

In the 1980s, Nestler was among the first scientists in the world to suggest that insulin was an important reproductive hormone. His pioneering work to induce ovulation through the use of such insulin-sensitizing drugs as metformin has led to the common use of metformin to treat infertility in women with PCOS. In 1998, in an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, Nestler's research team was the first to publish findings on the combination therapy of metformin and clomiphene to promote ovulation.


Contact: Sathy Achia Abraham
Virginia Commonwealth University

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