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The OB/GYN Research Laboratory contributes to women’s health initiatives through evidence-based medicine, and enhances clinical outcomes related to obstetric and gynecologic health through the development of innovative diagnostic and prognostic tools.

Work includes independent faculty research, as well as resident research done as a required component of the OB/GYN residency training program. Projects include evidence-based medicine and studies to evaluate therapies and biomarkers. Studies are completed as collaboration between OB/GYN faculty and Cannon Research Center [research-and-clinical-trials] staff.

In addition, the OB/GYN faculty participates in multi-center, industry-sponsored clinical trials in gynecologic oncology, reproductive endocrinology, maternal-fetal medicine and urogynecology.

History of the Laboratory

The OB/GYN Research laboratory is located in the Sonya Hanko Wyatt Molecular Biology Laboratory, a division of Molecular Biology Core Facility on the second floor of Cannon Research Center. OB/GYN Research at Cannon Research Center was established in 1989 to investigate the molecular basis and epidemiology of HPV in cervical cancer. Since 1996, the research focus of the laboratory has been mainly on Gynecologic Oncology, and, in particular, on Ovarian Cancer under the direction of gynecological oncologists at the Levine Cancer Institute as well as Reproductive Endocrinology.

Research Summary and Major Accomplishments

The Reproductive Endocrinology and Gynecologic Oncology divisions of OB/GYN have been involved with several studies in the field of endometrial and ovarian cancer in collaboration with the Molecular Biology Core Facility. Several publications have resulted from these studies and have led to the establishment of women’s health research endowments from local sources. Among ongoing projects at the OB/GYN Research Laboratory are the following: genomic and proteomic studies of epithelial ovarian cancer; studies of expression of estrogen and progesterone receptor splice variants in human endometrium and endometrial carcinoma; and studies of differential gene expression and biomarkers in the endometrium and serum of fertile and infertile women with endometriosis.

In 2010, the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Principal Investigator Rebecca Usadi, MD were invited to be an ancillary site for the Reproductive Medicine Network. The RMN is a multicenter network of clinical sites that, through a cooperative agreement with the NIH and NICHD's Reproductive Sciences Branch, conduct clinical studies to investigate problems in reproductive medicine, including infertility, reproductive disorders and diseases in men and women that affect fertility, and endocrinological disorders affecting reproduction.

Three RMN Trials were completed during the first grant cycle.  PPCOSII was a trial of the safety and efficacy of letrozole, an aromatase inhibitor, compared to clomiphene citrate in achieving live births in infertile women with PCOS.  AMIGOS examined whether treatment of infertile women with an aromatase inhibitor results in a lower rate of multiple gestations than the current standard ovulation induction medications of clomiphene citrate (CC) or gonadotropin. The Pregnancy Registry followed  pregnancies and newborns through the first year of life to collect data regarding pregnancy course, fetal and newborn health as well as limited genetic markers.  A second RMN grant cycle has been awarded with Atrium Health site funding in year three. 

Other areas of study include oncofertility, traumatic brain injury and fertility, ovarian drilling and other novel therapies for poor IVF responders. 

Dr. Brad Hurst is currently developing a technique for non-invasive treatment of endometriosis and holds a patent on an instrument being developed for this therapy.

Dr. Paul Marshburn is investigating male factor infertility and sperm quality with focus on DNA damage and oxidative stress.

Principal Investigators and Administration

J. Mac Ernest, MD, Chair Designate

David Tait, MD, Associate Director of Gynecological Oncology / Lead Investigator for basic and translational research in Gyn Oncology, Group Leader
James B. Hall, MD, Division Director of Gynecological Oncology,  Levine Cancer Institute, Group Leader
Robert Higgins MD, Associate Director of Gynecological Oncology / Residency Program Director
R. Wendel Naumann MD, Associate Director of Gynecological Oncology / Director of Minimal Invasive Surgery, Gynecological Oncology
Paul Marshburn, MD, Division Director of Reproductive Endocrinology, Group leader
Bradley Hurst, MD, Director of Assisted Reproduction, Group Leader
Susan Kullstam, Administrative Director, OB/GYN Administration and Research
Nicki DiMaria, OB/GYN Research Nurse
Mollie Elliott, OB/GYN Research Nurse
Kathy Ramsey, OB/GYN Research Nurse
Sharlene Wright, OB/GYN Research Assistant


Nury Steuerwald, PhD, Director, Molecular Core Laboratory
Jennifer Weller, PhD, Bioinformatics Center, UNCC, Collaborator

Contact Information

704-355-3153 or 704-355-2940 (Phone)
704-355-1941 (Fax)

Make a donation:

You may make a tax-deductible contribution to:

Women’s Cancer Research Fund
c/o Carolinas HealthCare Foundation
P.O. Box 32861
Charlotte, NC 28232-2861

or online at Carolinas HealthCare Foundation.