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J Assist Reprod Genet. 2013 Oct;30(10):1249-53. doi: 10.1007/s10815-013-0082-2. Epub 2013 Aug 23.

From the bench to bedside to babies: translational medicine made possible by funding multidisciplinary team science.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, 60611, USA,



In 2005, The National Institutes of Health (NIH) called upon the scientific community to identify the most intractable problems in science and medicine and describe how we would solve these problems using teams.


Our group was one of 8 research communities awarded an 'interdisciplinary research consortium (IRC) grant.' Using the infrastructure of this large, multi-institute grant and a team science approach, we set out to solve the problem of fertility loss in young female cancer patients-work that was not easily funded through other mechanisms.


The word 'oncofertility' was coined specifically for the IRC to reflect the intimate partnership between oncology care and fertility care for these patients-two disciplines that would no longer function at arms' length, but as an integrated unit. Catalyzed by the IRC funding mechanism, interdisciplinary teams worked together in unique ways to create a 'bench to bedside to baby' outcome.


The grant has now ended, and remarkably, so have the most intractable parts of the original problem. As we look back on what worked and look forward to tackling the next set of fertility-related questions, we are confident that this very special NIH funding mechanism made a meaningful difference in the lives of women and their future children. NIH and the public would be well-served by supporting clinical problem-based, multidisciplinary team science approaches to catalyze fundamental biomedical breakthroughs and create new intellectual environments in which changes in clinical practice and standard of care can be implemented.

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