My long-term career goal is to substantially improve women's health in the field of urogynecology by becoming a well-trained, independent clinician-scientist who is able to use innovative tools to identify the root causes of pelvic floor disorders and translate those findings into improved clinical practice. To achieve this goal, I have obtained the essential clinical and surgical training in urogynecology to fully comprehend the challenges in prevention, management and treatment of pelvic floor disorders. I have also developed a robust foundation in clinical research and modeling through my MPH in epidemiology and prior research endeavors. Through these collective experiences, I ultimately realized that advances in translational research, focused on the pathophysiology of pelvic floor disorders, are needed to revolutionize women's health in urogynecology. Thus, I am applying for this K23 Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award in order to obtain advanced training and mentorship in human genetics and genetic epidemiology. Topic: Female pelvic floor disorders (PFD) represent a major public health burden given their high prevalence, impairment of quality of life, and substantial economic costs. The underlying pathophysiology of these disorders is not well understood, and without this critical knowledge, effective preventive strategies and long-term treatments have not been developed. Identification of the fundamental causes of PFDs will be achieved through innovative translational research. Plan: My multidisciplinary educational plan entails acquiring additional skills in genetic epidemiology through intensive coursework, dedicated mentoring and productive research. My research will focus on identifying genetic risk factors for pelvic organ prolapse through a candidate gene association study (Aim 1). Through this research, I will gain crucial "hands-on" experience and knowledge, strengthen collaborations within and across institutions, and establish the groundwork for future, large-scale investigations. With advances in our understanding of the genetic susceptibility for prolapse, it is critical to simultaneously explore how we will eventually integrate these genetic findings into clinical practice. Thus, I will also estimate the potential clinical and economic impact of a genetic susceptibility test for prolapse using a computer simulation model (Aim 2). This novel proposal will foster valuable collaboration between clinical scientists and geneticists and advance the implementation of translational medicine into the evolving field of urogynecology in order to ultimately improve women's health.

Public Health Relevance

Female pelvic floor disorders represent a major public health burden given their high prevalence, impairment of quality of life, and substantial economic costs. Identifying the fundamental causes of pelvic floor disorders and translating these findings into improved preventive and treatment strategies will significantly impact women's health.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award (K23)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Developmental Biology Subcommittee (CHHD)
Program Officer
Meikle, Susan
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Obstetrics & Gynecology
Schools of Medicine
Chapel Hill
United States
Zip Code
Wu, Jennifer M; Matthews, Catherine A; Conover, Mitchell M et al. (2014) Lifetime risk of stress urinary incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse surgery. Obstet Gynecol 123:1201-6
Ward, Renée M; Velez Edwards, Digna R; Edwards, Todd et al. (2014) Genetic epidemiology of pelvic organ prolapse: a systematic review. Am J Obstet Gynecol 211:326-35
Wu, Jennifer M; Vaughan, Camille P; Goode, Patricia S et al. (2014) Prevalence and trends of symptomatic pelvic floor disorders in U.S. women. Obstet Gynecol 123:141-8
Jonsson Funk, Michele; Siddiqui, Nazema Y; Pate, Virginia et al. (2013) Sling revision/removal for mesh erosion and urinary retention: long-term risk and predictors. Am J Obstet Gynecol 208:73.e1-7
Wu, Jennifer M; Ward, Renee M; Allen-Brady, Kristina L et al. (2013) Phenotyping clinical disorders: lessons learned from pelvic organ prolapse. Am J Obstet Gynecol 208:360-5
Jonsson Funk, Michele; Edenfield, Autumn L; Pate, Virginia et al. (2013) Trends in use of surgical mesh for pelvic organ prolapse. Am J Obstet Gynecol 208:79.e1-7
Wu, Jennifer M; Visco, Anthony G; Grass, Elizabeth A et al. (2012) Comprehensive analysis of LAMC1 genetic variants in advanced pelvic organ prolapse. Am J Obstet Gynecol 206:447.e1-6
Jonsson Funk, Michele; Levin, Pamela J; Wu, Jennifer M (2012) Trends in the surgical management of stress urinary incontinence. Obstet Gynecol 119:845-51