Demystifying Medicine Video

Despite being crucial to the survival of our species, fertility surprisingly eludes millions of couples worldwide. In the United States, among heterosexual women aged 15 to 49 years with no prior births, nearly 20 percent are unable to get pregnant after one year of trying, according to the CDC. The CDC further estimates that upwards of 10 percent of U.S. men are infertile.

The causes are many, and endocrine disruptors — chemicals that can interfere with endocrine or hormonal systems, mostly introduced to the body from the environment — appear to be a central factor.

Lyuba Varticovski, a hematologist and oncologist, is an associate scientist in the NCI Laboratory of Receptor Biology and Gene Expression. Her research has involved oncogenesis and novel mouse models for studying cancer and cancer stem cells. An important focus has been detecting and quantifying endocrine disruptors such as contaminants in water that activate nuclear receptors affecting humans and other life in the broader ecosystem.
Alan DeCherney, an obstetrician and gynecologist, is Deputy Clinical Director for Academic Affairs and head of the Reproductive Endocrinology and Gynecology Affinity Group at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). A world-renowned expert on fertility with a 50-year career spanning positions at Yale, Tufts, and the NIH, Dr. DeCherney studies the cellular and molecular elements of blastocyst development and implantation on the lining of the uterus and has made numerous important discoveries with implication for clinical fertility. He was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2004.

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