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NorthShore features a depth and breadth of translational research initiatives led by principal investigators in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Our multidisciplinary research programs range from incontinence and female pelvic pain disorders to gynecological cancers. Leaders in the field, our nationally and internationally-recognized clinicians and scientists continually attract significant research funding and engage in important collaborations. Since 2010, the Department has experienced outstanding growth in extramural funding through both new applications and renewals.

Numerous studies are conducted within a variety of clinical care divisions in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Urogynecology clinical trials include: examining the effectiveness of periurethral injection of autologous myoblasts for women with stress incontinence; studying the use of BOTOX for overactive bladder; developing strategies to optimize bowel function after prolapse surgery; trigger point injection therapy for chronic pelvic pain and investigating gluten-free dietary strategies for alleviating lower urinary tract disorders. In 2015, in collaboration with the Research Institute, the Division of Urogynecology and Reconstructive Surgery developed the first-ever Structured Clinical Documentation System in the specialty. This innovation enables monitoring of clinical outcomes and quality of care and serves as a powerful platform for ongoing urogynecology research.

Multiple NIH-funded clinical trials are being performed for target discovery and treatment of menstrual pain and other chronic pelvic pain conditions by investigators in the Division of Gynecological Pain and Minimally Invasive Surgery. Frank F. Tu, MD, MPH, Director of Gynecological Pain and Minimally Invasive Surgery, and Kevin M. Hellman, PhD seeks to identify the biological basis for dysmenorrhea and interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome by studying them with novel imaging methods and comprehensive neurophysiological examination including brain imaging. Additionally, researchers are participating in multi-site studies such as ICECAN (Interstitial Cystitis: Examination of the Central Autonomic Network) and the NIH/NIDDK flagship MAPP (Multidisciplinary Approach to the Study of Chronic Pelvic Pain) Study. Our investigators have identified a potential candidate marker for chronic pelvic pain experienced as prolonged pain following vaginal examination in women. This clinical sign after routine pelvic exams in asymptomatic patients could be potentially used as an indicator of the need to prophylactically manage pain to avoid the transition to chronic pelvic pain.

NorthShore’s Division of Gynecological Oncology has been at the forefront of progress to improve outcomes for women with gynecological cancers. An aggressive research program aims at prevention, early detection and improved treatment for ovarian and other women’s cancers. Supported by a multimillion dollar Department of Defense award, our investigators have been spearheading studies focused on the prevention of endometrial and ovarian cancers in collaboration with scientists at Harvard, Inova and Walter Reed Army Medical Center.