March 14, 2008

NIH role allows Eisenberg to share expertise on larger scale

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Esther Eisenberg, M.D., M.P.H. (photo by Dana Johnson)

NIH role allows Eisenberg to share expertise on larger scale

Esther Eisenberg, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, has been named Medical Officer and Project Scientist for the Reproductive Medicine Network of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), a division of the National Institutes of Health.

For the next two years, she will split her time between the NICHD in Washington, D.C., and VUMC, where she will continue her clinical infertility and reproductive endocrinology practice and teaching medical students and residents.

“It's very exciting. In addition to being a role model for students and residents, impacting their knowledge, I've been helping women with infertility one by one, as a clinician,” said Eisenberg, professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology. “With this role, I can actually help more people by helping to implement and carry out these studies. The information we gain will help benefit a much larger group of individuals.”

Nancy Chescheir, M.D., chair of Vanderbilt's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, said Eisenberg's appointment recognizes her many talents. “This is certainly a testament to Esther's expertise and skill as a physician scientist and will take great advantage of her clinical expertise, her public health training and her leadership skills,” Chescheir said.

The NICHD established the network in 1989 to carry out large, multi-center clinical trials in the areas of male and female infertility, reproductive diseases and disorders.

The Network includes seven clinical sites — the University of Pennsylvania, University of Colorado Denver, Penn State Hershey Medical Center, Wayne State University, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, University of Texas Science Center at San Antonio and the University of Vermont College of Medicine — and a data coordinating center at Yale University.

By testing hypotheses in large numbers of patients enrolled in common protocols at multiple sites, answers are provided more rapidly than by individual sites working alone, Eisenberg said.

The network recently completed a study comparing medications used to induce ovulation in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Future studies that Eisenberg hopes will be implemented within the next six months include: the safety and efficacy of medications used in achieving live births in women with PCOS; whether a type of pharmaceutical treatment is effective in inducing sperm production in men with non-obstructive azoospermia, a type of male infertility; and a look at whether certain laboratory conditions used in in vitro fertilization might affect outcome.