Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology

Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility

Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility


Christos Coutifaris, MD, PhD
Chief, Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility

University of Pennsylvania Health System
Department OB/GYN

Suite 800
3701 Market Street
Philadelphia, Pa 19104

Phone: (215)662-2971
Fax: (215)349-5512

ccoutifaris@obgyn.upenn.edu

Mission Statement

  • Maximize the fertility potential of all infertile couples through the provision of state-of-the-art diagnosis and treatment.
  • Spearhead, through basic and translational research, the understanding of normal and abnormal human reproduction and the establishment of innovative treatments for reproductive disorders.
  • Train clinicians, physician-scientists and clinician investigators for practice and research in the field of human reproduction.

Program

The Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (REI) at Penn has a long tradition of new and innovative approaches to the management of infertility. Our pioneering work in such areas as microsurgical techniques, laparoscopic surgery, and in vitro fertilization (IVF) is recognized internationally. The division has served as a focus point for the transfer of technology from the basic laboratory of reproductive biology to clinical practice.

The division's team of physicians and investigators has made significant contributions to the field of infertility and reproductive medicine.  We are one of eight centers in the United States designated by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development as a Reproductive Medicine Unit (RMU). The RMU's have been selected to evaluate infertility treatments and assess their effectiveness, as well as to develop objectively new approaches in infertility management. The purpose of the RMU is to provide objective evaluation of such approaches and to confirm or deny their effectiveness.

Our clinical practice, Penn Fertility Care, has a well-developed program for the management of female and male infertility including in vitro fertilization, intracytoplasmic injection of spermatozoa (ICSI) fertility preservation, preimplantation genetic diagnosis, and polycystic ovary syndrome. The IVF program, one of the first in the country, was established in 1981. The division also offers a comprehensive donor egg program.

Clinical and Research Programs in Infertility

The care of women with reproductive endocrine disorders is centered in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology's Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (Christos Coutifaris, MD, PhD, Chief). Penn's NIH-funded Reproductive Medicine Unit (RMU) is based in this division, and has an interlocking arrangement with Penn's Medical Endocrine Division, providing additional emphasis on andrology. Established in 1965, the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility is a high volume program with over 1600 new patients per year and over 500 IVF retrievals.

The division is located in dedicated ambulatory care building at 3701 Market Street with an adjacent Ambulatory Reproductive Surgical Facility and Reproductive Laboratory devoted exclusively to the assisted reproductive technologies.  We have offices at Penn Medicine Washington Square at 8th and Walnut Street and at Penn Medicine Radnor.  The department has 30 assigned beds in the hospital for in-patient care.

The division has a staff of ten full-time physicians who have subspecialty certification/eligibility in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. Its three-year fellowship program, which has over the years prepared a significant cadre of physician/scientists for leadership roles in academic medicine, is approved for two fellows per year and incorporates an elective track leading to a Master of Science in Clinical Epidemiology (MSCE) or a Master of Science in Translational Research. Clinical fellows have a major role in the care of the division's patients, as well as receiving supervised training in research. In the past twelve years, the clinical research efforts of the Division have flourished with the establishment of the Reproductive Research Unit (RRU; Kurt Barnhart, MD, MSCE, Director) and have been complemented by the basic and translational research of the scientists in the Center for Research in Reproduction and Women’s Health (CRRWH). The Center has greater than 50 Penn investigators, including research programs in reproductive biology in areas such as sperm function, fertilization, preimplantation embryo development, implantation, endometriosis, molecular genetics of ovarian and placental function, and epigenetics. The relevant research programs are mentioned in the narrative below.

The Male Fertility Program is directed by Dr. Puneet Masson, Assistant Professor of Urology.  Dr. Masson completed a fellowship in male fertility at Northwestern University.

The care of male reproductive disorders is shared with the Department of Medicine's Division of Endocrinology.  Directed by Peter Snyder, MD, this program focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of pituitary adenomas, the regulation of spermatogenesis and the effect of exogenous gonadotropins on spermatogenesis, as well as the influence of male sex steroids on sexual and reproductive function, bone mineral density and muscle strength. These various investigative efforts have received extensive extramural support over the years. This division evaluates and treats approximately 500 patients for andrologic problems yearly.

The Reproductive Research Unit (RRU) under the leadership of Kurt Barnhart MD, MSCE was established in 1994 and is the cornerstone for our division’s clinical research program. This unit was officially organized when it became evident that the growth of the clinical research initiatives of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility required centralized management and oversight. The unit has dedicated space adjacent to the clinical and academic offices of the division and includes “dry” laboratory space for coordination of clinical research. The RRU has women’s health nurse practitioners, research coordinators, and a dedicated administrative assistant. This dedicated clinical research staff work closely with the fellows and is available to perform all aspects of clinical research projects including recruitment, screening, clinical examinations, follow-up examinations, and provision of care outside of scheduled visits, thus allowing continuity of patient care. This staff is also experienced in data management. Since the Unit’s inception, research in the Center has increased dramatically. The staff of the RRU have extensive experience in the successful conduct of multi-center clinical trials in women’s health, many of which are NIH sponsored. The lead research coordinator, Kelly Timbers MSN CRNP, CCRC has greater than 20 years of experience in women’s health.

The Center for Research in Reproduction and Women's Health (CRRWH) includes, as members, over fifty investigators with active research interest in reproductive and women's health issues. This Center was formally established in 1995 and evolved from the Division of Reproductive Biology of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. The core of the Center still resides within the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology as most of the investigators have their primary appointments in the department. The research focus of the Center is on cellular and molecular aspects of gamete biology (spermatogenesis; sperm motility; fertilization), implantation, embryo development and placental function, with extensive use of human material. The Center receives major funding from NIH. In addition, the Center offers two T32 NIH. It coordinates its approach to human research with the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, and has identified new opportunities for interaction as funding has become available in such areas as fertilization, implantation, and endometriosis for which it has ongoing NIH sponsored programs. The Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology has been ranked consistently in the top three nationally in NIH sponsored research programs the majority of which are part of the CRRWH.  The Center is located in the Biomedical Research Building II/III, where they occupy 30,000 sq.ft. of state-of-the-art research space. In the spring of 2006, the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Center for Research in Reproduction and Women’s Health jointly announced the establishment of the Women's Health Clinical Research Center under the directorship of Dr. Barnhart.

The General Clinical Research Center of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania is a key resource for clinical studies in reproductive medicine. Supported continuously by NIH for more than 50 years, it offers dedicated space and nursing support for approved protocols. Up to ten inpatients can be accommodated at a time. Several of our faculty have helped administer this center. Dr. Kurt Barnhart’s clinical research program has utilized the GCRC facilities for several of its projects. Penn holds a CTSA NIH award designed to promote the establishment of the infrastructure needed for the conduct of clinical and translational research.

The Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics (Harold Feldman, MD, MSCE, Director) facilitates clinically-oriented epidemiological research, training and teaching. It is composed of 200 individuals including clinical and non-clinical faculty (70), fellows, research staff, biostatisticians, and clerical staff. The Clinical Epidemiology Center is at the forefront bridging clinical medicine with epidemiology, bringing clinical insights into epidemiologic research and vice versa. The faculty works closely with faculty throughout the University of Pennsylvania, and other medical and non-medical institutions. Under the auspices of their training program in Reproductive Epidemiology five of our REI faculty, Dr. Kurt Barnhart, Dr. Clarisa Gracia, Dr. Samantha Butts, Dr. Suleena Kalra and Suneeta Senapati have received Master of Science degrees in Clinical Epidemiology (MSCE). Several of our REI fellows have been enrolled in the MSCE program of the Center as part of their fellowship in the clinician-investigator track.

The Reproductive Genetics Division (Lorraine Dugoff, MD, Director) provides genetic counseling, screening and testing. It supports a fellowship program in clinical genetics in conjunction with the Division of Human Genetics and Molecular Biology at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and the Department of Genetics at the Perelman School of Medicine. Obstetrics and Gynecology faculty in the Division of Reproductive Genetics hold joint appointments in the Department of Pediatrics and Genetics. The faculty participate in the fellowship lecture series.

The Stuart and Emily Mudd Center for the Study of Social and Psychological Aspects of Reproduction (Karl Rickels, MD, Director; Ellen Freeman, PhD, Co-Director) is a unique research and treatment unit sponsored jointly by the Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Psychiatry. Its major investigative efforts, supported by the NIH, are in the study of psychological factors in reproductive failure, the menopause and the premenstrual syndrome. Dr. Rickels, known for his contributions on the psychiatric aspects of reproductive disorders, is an expert in the design and conduct of large scale drug trials.  He has been a member of the Treatment and Development and Assessment Research Review Committee of NIMH and routinely advises both the FDA and the pharmaceutical industry on the design and evaluation of clinical trials. Dr. Freeman holds several grants with current total funding for the program. This research program is housed adjacent to the clinical and research space of the REI division. Over the years, many REI fellows have chosen to perform clinical research in association with this program.


Active Clinical Trials

For a complete listing of all active clinical trials, please visit: http://www.uphs.upenn.edu/obgyn/clinical-trials/


Faculty & Staff

Complete Faculty listing


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