Research Priorities

Research Priorities

The ASRM Research Institute will focus its support on those research areas that would have an impact on the practice of reproductive medicine with priority on initiatives:

  • Not fundable by current NIH or other federal or state guidelines
  • Answering timely, basic or clinically relevant questions
  • Addressing other ASRM strategic initiatives important to the field and to the membership

The two overarching themes that encompass this priority are:
1.The effects of the genome, epigenome and the environment on fertility, human development and reproductive health and
2. Access to reproductive care. These themes fall under the following general areas of research:

  • Genetic and epigenetic pre-pregnancy and peri-conceptional considerations involving
    • Human gametes
    • Human embryos
    • Uterus
  • Basic and clinical considerations relevant to the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD)
  • The environment (in vivo and in vitro) and its effects on reproduction and reproductive health
  • Access to reproductive care

Priority will be given to the research categories below (click to expand):

A priority of the ASRM Research Institute will be to support APPLIED CLINICAL RESEARCH, including:

General:


  • How to apply precision medicine in clinical reproductive care
  • Study the origin of aneuploidy / meiotic vs. mitotic errors
  • Human embryo culture optimization and effects of human embryo manipulation(s) in vitro
  • “Beyond the Semen Analysis” – Develop additional diagnostics for male factor infertility
  • Single cell analytics of gametes for clinical (and research) application(s)
  • Study and define the poor-quality oocyte for application to clinical medicine
  • Studies on the derivation of human stem cell lineages in females and males
    • In vitro gametogenesis
    • Testicular biopsy of child to identify stem cells for sperm maturation
    • Clinical testing of gametes generated in the laboratory

Access to Care:


  • Low cost IVF
    • Vaginal culture
    • IVM for routine IVF (in non PCOS patients)
  • Fertility preservation (male, female, children)
    • Optimization of gamete and reproductive tissue cryopreservation
  • Socio-cultural barriers (geographic, religious, financial, educational, time away from work, etc.)
  • Practical IVF (e.g., cost saving studies vs. applications like telemedicine)

Outcomes:

  • Short and Long-term outcomes of fertility treatments (parents AND offspring)
    • Development of an expanded SART CORS database (and, potentially, with linkage to other databases)
    • Development of iPad/iPhone-type app for direct data input by patient

Other areas of possible interest and importance to the field:

  • The microbiome
  • Integration of various “-omics” findings
  • Validation of emerging biomarkers for diagnosis of reproduction-related disease(s)
  • Gene editing of germline/embryos
It is stressed that the Institute processes should be nimble enough to be in position of quickly addressing unexpected clinical needs which lead to new opportunities for research (e.g., as happened for Zika).

Note: There are other general and common areas of reproductive research for which current funding already exists, albeit at relatively decreased or low levels. These topics do not meet the criteria listed above for priority areas to fund at the present time. However, the consensus of both the Research Task Force and the Steering Committee was to keep these topics on the list for annual review and consideration. These topics’ prioritization may be changed based on a shifting research climate and potential new discoveries. These topics include:

  • Endometriosis/Adenomyosis
  • Fibroids
  • PCOS
  • The human placenta (as described in the NICHD Human Placenta Project)

A priority of the ASRM Research Institute will be to support BASIC RESEARCH, including:

  • Human gamete and embryo research
    • Genetic/ epigenetic programming/re-programing and embryo development
    • Human sperm and egg contribution to embryo development
    • Definition of quality of male and female gametes
    • Definition of quality of embryos
  • Molecular mechanisms of human implantation and placentation
  • Molecular mechanisms involved in female and male reproductive aging
  • Role(s) of mitochondria in human gametes, embryos and early development
  • Gene-environment interactions
  • Investigations into the derivation and differentiation of stem cells
  • Consideration should be given in establishing the Human Trophectoderm Project in order to define better, at the basic level, the development of human polar and mural trophoblasts and how this may affect the invasive and non-invasive evaluation of human embryos for clinical purposes