The research should be done in a department of OB/GYN or in collaboration with members of such departments. The mere fact that patients with the problem are first seen by an OB/GYN professional is not sufficient justification. Rather, OB/GYN must be the discipline with the knowledge or skill needed to accomplish the research. If the research is interdisciplinary, OB/GYN should be a necessary element. Lack of interest by other specialties would also be sufficient justification (i.e., the work would not be accomplished if OB/GYN did not do it).
During the period of this study, NIH initiated three activities that will result m research agendas that overlap many areas of the committee's work. The first of these is the Pregnancy, Birth, and Infant Research Plan of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The second is a research agenda being developed by the Task Force on Opportunities for Research on Women's Health. This group, which was assembled by the Office of Research on Women's Health, has been asked to identify the research needed to improve the health of women at all stages of their lives. Its deliberations therefore include such areas as reproductive science and early developmental biology. Discussion at a workshop held by the task force emphasized the need to stress the epidemiological and behavioral aspects of research on women's health. Finally, NIH is engaged in an effort to develop a strategic plan and to that end has drawn on the expertise of several panels, including one on reproductive biology and development and one on infant health and mortality. In their initial work, both panels emphasized the personal and social consequences of unsolved problems in these areas. The panel on reproductive biology and development highlighted seven areas, each of which in whole or in part covers topics that the committee included in its research agenda: the control of reproductive function, infertility, contraception, the molecular basis of embryonic development in animal and plant models, environmental factors affecting reproductive biology and development, and postnatal growth.
In light of these large-scale efforts, the committee felt that it would be duplicative to produce a comprehensive and detailed research agenda. Instead, individual committee members were asked to highlight areas of investigation that meet the criteria listed above and that exemplify the range of questions that might fruitfully be investigated. Because there were no committee members with expertise in behavioral sciences, technology assessment, and outcomes analysis, the agenda outlined in the following sections does not sufficiently emphasize those areas. The committee therefore wishes to stress its opinion that departments of OB/GYN, in conjunction with individuals with relevant