The complex of interrelated biological, psychological, and social factors involved in preterm birth necessitate a multidisciplinary approach to research directed at understanding its etiologies, patho-physiology, diagnosis, and treatment. This research must be conducted over a sustained period of time and requires stable funding. In addition to the scientific and clinical challenges of preterm birth, other important barriers must also be addressed. Although some of these barriers are common to all clinical disciplines, others are unique to physician scientists trained in obstetrics and gynecology. Of primary importance are the recruitment and participation of scientists in the type of investigation that must be pursued to address prematurity. Other barriers include issues related to career choices and training; the difficulties of conducting clinical investigations, particularly drug studies, during pregnancy; the relatively low levels of research funding, given the size of the problem; ethical and liability issues; and the need for coordinated scientific leadership in the field.
The barriers to conducting research faced by physician scientists trained in obstetrics and gynecology were the subject of a workshop hosted by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Committee on Understanding Premature Birth