Dr Linda Giudice, President-Elect of the World Endometriosis Society
Dr Linda Giudice, current President-Elect of the World Endometriosis Society and a leader in research on the impact of the environment on reproductive health, explains to International Innovation how the American Society for Reproductive Medicine is improving advocacy, education and research in reproductive medicine worldwide.
As an organisation dedicated to advancing reproductive medicine, what are the objectives of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM)?
The overarching goal is to advance reproductive medicine worldwide on behalf of patients, healthcare professionals and women; and this is accomplished in a number of ways.
We have a very strong educational programme for patients, and our website has a portal, reproductivefacts.org, that displays multiple fact sheets, along with additional clinical information. This was introduced within the last four years, and has proven extremely informative for individuals and couples facing infertility and reproductive disorders.
For healthcare professionals, we have eLearning modules for continuing medical education (CME) credit, as well as free eLearning modules for residents and fellows in training. We also have our journals – Fertility and Sterility and the Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics – for the dissemination of scientific information. Our Washington office is completely devoted to advocacy. For example, in California ASRM worked with the reproductive endocrine community to inform the legislative process of one of the bills with regard to same-sex couples and assisted reproduction.
Crucially, we acknowledge and support research on stem cell biology, reproductive biology and reproductive medicine. The Society also directly supports a number of research projects, mostly for junior faculty. We sponsor trainees to attend our annual meeting and contribute to major training programmes such as the Reproductive Scientist Development Program (RSDP) from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other NIH-funded programmes.
What are the most prominent ethical and moral dilemmas to contend with in the field of reproductive medicine?
Genetic issues always strike a chord. Some genetic abnormalities are incompatible with life or are compatible with life but are associated with developmental abnormalities or adult onset disease. Choosing whether or not to transfer these embryos has advocates on both sides. Also, how far to go down the slippery slope of transferring ‘designer embryos’ is a challenge as we garner more genetic and genomic information for individual embryos. Presently, there is information we cannot interpret because we don’t know what certain changes in the genome mean, and thus there is uncertainty about health outcomes in the offspring, causing anxiety in parents. This is an emerging field that needs a lot of thoughtful consideration and input.
Could you share some highlights from your time at the ASRM and discuss your future plans?
I thoroughly enjoyed my presidency. The staff of the organisation is outstanding. They are incredibly motivated, knowledgeable and energetic, and it was a great pleasure to work with such a robust and dedicated group.
For my own goals, in terms of a focus on environment, and reproductive and global women’s health, my connection with ASRM has been very valuable and has enabled me to build bridges with colleagues from other organisations. I hope to continue these collaborations to improve the health of women and their families worldwide.
I’m now President-Elect of the World Endometriosis Society. In my clinical practice I mostly see women who have endometriosis, which is the focus of my research and the direction in which I am moving. Also, I will continue to focus on the effects of the environment on reproduction through patient and provider education and healthcare advocacy.
This is an excerpt from a longer discussion published in International Innovation. To access the interview in full, go to: http://www.research-europe.com/magazine/ISSUE/138/index.html.