UW News

July 5, 2007

NIH renews male contraception research support

Dr. William Bremner, the Robert G. Petersdorf Professor and chair of the Department of Medicine, has received a five-year, $8.7 million renewal of his National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant supporting the UW’s Male Contraception Research Center, one of four such centers in the nation devoted to expediting development of new approaches to regulating fertility.

“There is a critical need to provide couples and individuals throughout the world with a variety of reliable, acceptable methods for determining their own family size,” Bremner said. “The lack of adequate options has enormous impact, particularly in developing countries, in terms of poverty, overcrowding, disease, and environmental stress. In addition, approximately one quarter of all pregnancies are unwanted, leading to millions of abortions and deaths from complications.

“It is well established that men will use contraceptives: Approximately 30 percent of all contraception in the U.S. now is accomplished with male methods. Providing new contraceptive techniques for men that are effective, safe, accessible and reversible is an extremely important societal goal. Our center is dedicated to developing such new techniques that are based on hormonal control of the male reproductive system. We have already made significant advances, including substantial progress toward a male ‘pill,’ or oral hormonal contraceptive. This additional funding will bring us closer to the goal.”

The original grant for the center was awarded in 2002, and the renewal provides approximately $8.7 million through 2012. The center is part of the national Cooperative Contraceptive Research Centers Program, funded by the Contraception and Reproductive Health Branch of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The program supports a wide range of research projects, both basic and applied, with the ultimate goal of developing knowledge that may lead to clinically useful products. There are other centers at the University of Kansas, Oregon Health and Science University, and the Population Council of Rockefeller University.

Bremner, a member of the Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology and Nutrition and an international authority on hormonal control of male reproduction, is director of the center and a principal investigator. Other investigators are Drs. John K. Amory (UW Medicine), Robert E. Braun (UW Genome Sciences), and Michael Griswold (WSU Biochemistry and Biophysics). Co-investigators include Drs. Bradley D. Anawalt, Alvin M. Matsumoto, Peter S. Nelson, and Stephanie T. Page (UW Medicine) and Christopher Small (WSU Biochemistry and Biophysics).

The UW Center consists of three research projects in the UW Departments of Medicine and Genome Sciences; one in the WSU Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics; an administrative core; and a program for fellows and new investigators. There are cooperative activities between the projects and with other national centers in the program.

The Male Contraception Research Center is part of the UW Center for Research in Reproduction and Contraception (CRRC), a national leader in research on the basic biology of male reproduction, infertility, and contraception. The CRRC also comprises Clinical and Basic Studies in Male Reproduction, the Male Reproductive Health Research Training Program, and other training and research opportunities.