Three members of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology were awarded a five-year grant through the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development’s Gynecologic Health and Disease Branch to establish a Harvard-wide Women’s Reproductive Health Research (WRHR) Program to promote the training of obstetrics/gynecology junior faculty at the Brigham and Mass General.
The WRHR Program leadership includes Robert Barbieri, MD, principal investigator for the program, who will step down from his position as chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology on Sept. 30, Nawal Nour, MD, MPH, the program’s recruiting officer, who will succeed Barbieri as Obstetrics and Gynecology chair on Oct. 1, and Raina Fichorova, MD, PhD, founding director of the Brigham’s Genital Tract Biology Lab and distinguished chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Harvard Medical School, who serves as the program’s research director.
The Harvard WRHR Program — one of 15 such sites nationwide — will take a transdisciplinary approach to advancing gynecologic health, focusing on the molecular and cellular aspects of reproductive health while emphasizing the environmental, metabolic and microbiome-related factors that may contribute to differences in pregnancy outcomes between racial and ethnic groups. Research will span the topics of benign and malignant tumors (especially uterine leiomyomas), maternal-fetal complications, fertility and more.
The three program leaders bring together expertise across a range of research areas. Barbieri has researched the role of sex steroids in diseases of the reproductive tract. Fichorova is a reproductive immunologist who is currently studying how the microbiome of the female genital tract influences immunity and inflammation. Nour works to address global health and policy issues surrounding female genital cutting.
The WRHR Program, co-sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Research on Women’s Health using the NIH Mentored Research Scientist Development Program Award (K12) mechanism, was founded in 1988 to increase academic research in OB/GYN practice by supporting the continued education of OB/GYNs who recently completed postgraduate clinical training.