Gynepathology Research is relatively underfunded by the government, and it is especially difficult to bring new investigators from engineering into the field and to link clinicians with scientists and engineers.  CGR was launched with a grant from an anonymous foundation directed at bringing interdisciplinary research into endometriosis, so that the lead investigators could establish a successful core research facility and define new directions linking engineering, science, and clinical medicine. This foundation grant was supplemented with a fellowship from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to CGR Director Linda Griffith. These seed resources led to significant findings, and though it also led to research funding from traditional sources,  the CGR relies on the generous support of donors for a variety of  research-related activities. These  include: sponsoring seminars,  funding for specialized equipment and lab facilities, graduate and postdoctoral fellowships to encourage engineering students to work on gynepathologies and to encourage young gynecologists to conduct a year of basic research, and seed grants to encourage new and established investigators in other fields to apply their approaches to all aspects of both basic and translational gynepathology research.

The New Horizon UROP fund

MIT has long fostered a deep and substantial involvement of undergraduate students in research, through the “Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP)” started in 1969 by Margaret MacVicar. The New Horizon fund arose from a special gift from John and Karine Begg to support the research of students involved in women’s reproductive health, and endometriosis in particular.  Each term (fall, IAP, Spring, Summer), 2-3 UROPS are paired with CGR faculty, graduate students, and postdocs to participate in both basic and translational research. Ten UROPs have participated since (2009), contributing to papers and conference presentations, and gaining professional experience in clinical translational medicine.  Snapshots of their projects are highlighted here (UROP student and project title):

Emma S. Gargus
Developing Stable Microwell Arrays in an Argon Environment
Lauren N. Grieco
Creating a Mobile App for Endometriosis Patients and Their Surgeons
Margaret G. Guo
Building Endometriosis Software Application
Zainab A. Lasisi
Systems Analysis of Metalloprotease Dynamics in Cancer Invasion and Endometriosis
Manuel I. Legrand
Protein Engineering for Detecting Invasive Endometriotic Phenotypes: Epitope mapping of EGF sensor
Justin J. Merritt
A Study of MMP Activity in Endometriosis
Nursen J. Ogutveren
Developing Image Processing Tools for Characterizing the Endometrial Microenvironment
Julie Y. Ramseier
Two Activity Based Probe Technologies for Metalloprotease Detection
Mahesh Thapa
Analysis of Gene Expression of Metalloproteinases and its Inhibitors in Deep Endometriosis
Yiping Xing
High Performance Micro-Environment Fabrication

Anonymous Foundation

The CGR was created with a substantial gift from an anonymous foundation, matched in part by funds from the MIT Provost’s office, the Dean of Engineering, and the Department of Biological Engineering.  This gift provided support for 3 postdoctoral fellows the first 3 years of research in the CGR,  provided travel funds for leading experts in endometriosis to visit MIT to discuss research directions and collaborations, and provided the infrastructure to establish the well-annotated endometriosis tissue bank at MIT.