The Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology is involved in research projects in various subspecialties of women's health, and includes both basic research and participation in multi-center clinical trials.
Research is an integral part of the residency program, with each resident acting as principal investigator of a study beginning in PGY-1 of the program, and culminating in presentation in the third year and publication in PGY-4. Projects focus on evidence-based medicine as well as novel interventions and basic science and are mentored by departmental faculty and facilitated by the department research staff. Generous support for research projects in Ob/Gyn comes from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Health Services Foundation, the Women's Cancer Research Foundation and the Wallace C. Nunley, Jr. Endowment for Women's Health.
Department faculty participates in a number of multi-center sponsored clinical trials in the subspecialties of Gynecologic Oncology, Reproductive Endocrinology, Maternal-Fetal Medicine, and Urogynecology.
The OB/GYN Research Laboratory is located at Sonya Hanko Wyatt Molecular Biology Laboratory, on the 2nd floor of Cannon Research Center. The research focus is mainly on Gynecologic Oncology, and in particular on genetic profiling of ovarian cancer under the direction of gynecological oncologists at Blumenthal Cancer Center.
704-355-3886/7090 / Phone
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Faculty Research Highlights
Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility
Brad S. Hurst, MD
Paul B. Marshburn, MD
Rebecca Usadi, MD
Oocyte Cryopreservation by Vitrification
The division of Reproductive Endocrinology has further advanced its oocyte vitrification program in 2010 through studies that expand options to patients in a number of ways. Oocyte vitrification is an investigational process of rapid cryopreservation of oocytes to a "glass-like state" that produces eggs of superior viability compared to traditional oocyte cryopreservation.
The first study aims to determine if oocyte vitrification outcomes are comparable to the outcomes achieved with fresh (non-vitrified) oocytes. If outcomes are similar, oocyte vitrification could preserve fertility for young women facing potentially infertility-inducing chemotherapy or surgery. In this study, once oocytes are retrieved, they are vitrified and then thawed and fertilized, and one or two embryos from vitrified eggs selectively transferred back to the uterus in effort to achieve a pregnancy.
A second vitrification aims to provide oocyte vitrification to women who will undergo emergent cancer therapy and will include potentially gonadotoxic chemotherapy. Patients undergo ovarian stimulation and retrieval of oocytes that are cryopreserved for future use.
A third vitrification study is being conducted to determine if oocyte vitrification is helpful for women who respond poorly to conventional IVF therapy.
Vitrification holds the potential to revolutionize fertility care for women in a number of ways. Vitrification enables couples to reduce the number of excess embryos cryopreserved following in-vitro fertilization (IVF), thus limiting the need for long term embryo storage. It also holds the potential to preserve fertility for young women starting cancer therapy, and for women who wish to delay childbearing for personal or professional reasons.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and Infertility
In 2010, the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Principal Investigator Rebecca Usadi, MD were invited to be an ancillary site for the Reproductive Medicine Network. The RMN is a multicenter network of clinical sites that, through a cooperative agreement with the NIH and NICHD's Reproductive Sciences Branch, conduct clinical studies to investigate problems in reproductive medicine, including infertility, reproductive disorders and diseases in men and women that affect fertility, and endocrinological disorders affecting reproduction.
The first study initiated at CMC with the RMN is a trial of the safety and efficacy of letrozole, an aromatase inhibitor, compared to clomiphene citrate in achieving live births in infertile women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or PCOS.
Division of Gynecologic Oncology
James B. Hall, MD
Robert V. Higgins, MD
R. Wendel Naumann, MD
David A. Tait, MD
Brigitte E. Miller, MD
The division of gynecologic oncology is highly involved in clinical research focusing on chemotherapeutic and surgical interventions for such gynecologic malignancies as cervical, ovarian, endometrial, and vulvar cancers. The group also focuses on basic science and translational research.
OB/GYN Research Laboratory and Sonya Hanko Wyatt Molecular Biology Laboratory
Collaborative efforts with the BioInformatics Department at UNCC, which provides a model for the institution, have been further integrated by virtue of the work done by our first post-doctoral fellow, Kevin Thompson, and Faculty physician David Tait. Their work has resulted in the recent submission by Dr Tait and his colleagues to the NCI for funding for their project entitled Stratification of Transcriptomes in Ovarian Carcinoma by Histologic Subtype. In addition, Dr Tait continues his work through the Cannon research facilities on the Hox gene, which has resulted in a recent submission to our journal of "Paired-box 8 gene and protein expression is increased in malignant ovarian tissue."
Collaborative Gynecologic Research
The Division has initiated a study with Dr. Eleanor Rogan from the University of Nebraska, which seeks to identify and diagnose ovarian cancer in its early stage. It is hypothesized that DNA adducts of estrogen can be found as breakdown products in urine and saliva, which, if indeed true, would be a simple way to screen for those patients at higher risk for developing ovarian cancer. This study is being funded by the Department of Defense.
The Division also remains involved in clinical research through the Gynecologic Oncology Group which runs clinical trials for the NCI. Additionally, the Faculty continue to avail patients access to the latest and most innovative drugs by participating in multiple sponsored clinical trials. As a part of these efforts, the Division has begun participating in Phase 1 studies that in the first stage of drug development. These are studies that give hope to our most difficult patients who have already failed all the regimens/options that we have available.
With the addition of a new faculty member at CMC-NorthEast, Dr. Brigitte Miller, continued growth and expansion of the research program is anticipated under the umbrella of the recently announced Levine Cancer Institute.