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REDIH - Program Description

 

Contact REDIH

Ms. Terri van Gulik
REDIH Coordinator
tvangulik@ohri.ca

 


Funded by Canadian Institutes of Health Research Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health

Program Description

Research in reproduction and early development is fundamental for our understanding of the basic biology of how new individuals arise and how species survive. This area of research is also directly relevant to a number of important health challenges. We are becoming increasingly aware that long-term health depends on events during the earliest stages of development, such that serious adverse effects on the health of the embryo, fetus, placenta, and offspring as children and adults can arise from perturbations that occurred extremely early in development, during sperm and egg development, preimplantation embryogenesis, and implantation. These include widespread causes of morbidity and mortality such as obesity and hypertension, and can even extend to altered behaviour in offspring.

Understanding how such effects arise is vital to improving health and preventing disease. Also, in recent decades, major practical applications have resulted from research in this area, including embryonic stem cell biology, transgenics, and assisted reproduction technologies (ART). ART is now commonly used in treating the 10% of reproductive-aged couples suffering from infertility. Of significant concern, however, is the widespread application of new ART technologies before the health effects are more completely understood, and the ART-associated increase in multiple births (30% twins or higher order multiples) that substantially increases morbidity and mortality of mothers and babies. Finally, the area of reproductive medicine, ART, and fertility preservation are ethically and legally complex, including profound questions about the use of human embryos and what limits should exist on reproductive technologies.

To meet the health challenges in these and related areas, we will need highly-trained personnel in Canada who can approach issues in reproductive biology and medicine, early development, and associated technologies with a broad appreciation of different methodologies, an ability to translate knowledge between different realms including to the public, clinicians, and decision makers, and who have a clear appreciation of the ethical and legal issues involved.

Addressing these needs is the aim of the CIHR Training Program in Reproduction, Early Development, and the Impact on Health (REDIH).

REDIH's major foci are on events of gametogenesis and very early development, their physiology, and how perturbations during gametogenesis, embryogenesis, and early feto-placental development affect health of the embryo and fetus during development as well as the long-term health of the offspring. REDIH also focuses on the safety and efficacy of reproductive technologies.

The mentors assembled for REDIH are located across Quebec and Ontario and approach these issues from basic biomedical, clinical, population health, ethics, and education research perspectives. They previously had formed collaborative interdisciplinary research teams in the context of three successful research networks funded by CIHR Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health Strategic Initiative program grants.

The overall objective of the REDIH curriculum is to provide improved and expanded opportunities for state-of-the art and highly relevant training in reproduction and early development for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, building research, clinical, regulatory, and private sector capacity in Canada.

The intent of the REDIH Training Program is to provide additional training and added value that complements the education and training received by students in their graduate programs and by postdoctoral fellows during their postdoctoral fellowships.

The REDIH program provides training in:

  1. ethical/legal/social issues
  2. knowledge translation incorporating end users as well as teaching by recognized KT experts
  3. writing, presentation, and peer review skills
  4. career options
  5. grant development workshops
  6. regulatory issues
  7. methodology training in areas such as genomics and epigenomics

This training is augmented with:

  1. co-mentoring to increase interaction and interdisciplinarity
  2. training opportunities in research groups outside that of the trainee's mentor
  3. structured training opportunities in the clinical settings of human ART clinics and maternal-fetal medicine units.

A core feature of REDIH is semi-annual meetings of Mentors and trainees. These meetings will include research presentations by trainees and Mentors, serving to increase collaboration opportunities, promote cross-discipline interaction, and teach presentation skills. Additional training is provided by modules presented as part of the curriculum.

An extensive expertly-designed self-evaluation strategy has been embedded in REDIH to allow continual improvement, and will also serve to develop capacity in assessment tool development for training initiatives in biomedical research. Trainees are expected to play a key role in evaluation and improvement of the program.

We anticipate that REDIH will prove a valuable program that will benefit not only trainees but also will lead to increased research capacity, improved health and better technology assessment for Canadians.