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Session named to lead VUMC Reproductive Endocrinology efforts

Sep. 3, 2015, 9:19 AM

Donna Session, M.D., has been named to direct Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, which treats problems related to reproductive medicine including infertility, recurrent pregnancy loss, endometriosis, polycystic ovarian disease, congenital uterine anomalies, fibroids and risk of genetic disorders in offspring.

Donna Session, M.D.

Session comes to Vanderbilt from the Emory Reproductive Center in Atlanta, where she served as chief of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at Emory University School of Medicine and program director of ART.

“We are delighted to have Dr. Session as a member of our team,” said Howard Jones III, M.D., Betty and Lonnie S. Burnett Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and chair of the department. “She brings with her a long experience with in vitro fertilization (IVF) and we are very fortunate.

“We are confident she is the right person to lead the new division to regional and national prominence,” Jones said.

Session, associate professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, said she is planning to launch a new program in assistive reproductive technology, or ART. She recently began seeing patients at Vanderbilt Health One Hundred Oaks, and plans call for her to move to a newly designed fertility center by the end of the year.

ART includes services like IVF, embryo cryopreservation (freezing embryos), gestational carriers, egg donation and pre implantation genetic testing (PGT).

“There has been a shift over the years for increasing the use of ART,” said Session. “One reason is because of the high success rates and the other is the ever expanding indications for the use of the technology.

“More families are seeking genetic testing in order to have a child who is free of a particular disorder. For example, if the family carries cystic fibrosis, patients are opting to have IVF in order to have a child who does not carry that specific disorder.

“Most recently oocyte cryopreservation has become available for patients who are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy to preserve their fertility,” she said. “There are a multitude of medical reasons why patients seek out this kind of therapy.”

Once the new fertility clinic is fully operational, services offered at that site will include IVF and embryo transfer, anonymous oocyte donation, known oocyte donation, embryo cryopreservation, intracytoplasmic sperm injection, assisted hatching, pre implantation genetic diagnosis, oocyte cryopreservation, embryo cryopreservation and gestational carriers.

“I hope that as we launch this program, we will be able to provide services to people in need,” said Session. “Nashville is growing and the number of people in the reproductive age group is growing as well,” she said. “It’s anticipated that there will be an increasing need for these types of services.”

REI and non ART services such as infertility medications and intrauterine inseminations, will be available at the One Oaks location until the new center opens.

Session graduated from Allegheny College in 1983 and earned her medical degree from Eastern Virginia Medical School in 1986.

She completed her residency at Winthrop University Hospital followed by a fellowship at Columbia University where she was a Sloane Scholar studying gene expression in gynecologic malignancies.

Her most recent grant from the Atlanta Clinical and Translational Science Institute (ACTSI) has supported her study into the racial differences in women with uterine cancer.

She plans to continue her research looking at the risk factors among the races and the possible link between high insulin levels and poorer prognosis of uterine cancer in African-American women.

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