U of C faculty collaborate on reproductive health research

The new center takes an interdisciplinary approach to research and education in global women’s health and sexual and reproductive topics.

By Lauren Gurley

After three years in the works, a new center at the University of Chicago for adolescent and women’s reproductive health, launched last November, has begun its research.

The Center for Interdisciplinary Inquiry & Innovation in Sexual & Reproductive Health (Ci3) takes a collaborative approach to research and education in global women’s health, obesity, domestic violence, and other sexual and reproductive topics. UChicago faculty from academic departments spanning medicine, English, economics, law, and psychology are involved in the Center’s work.

Ci3 is the brainchild of Dr. Melissa Gilliam, professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and pediatrics, chief of the section of family planning and contraceptive research, and associate dean for diversity in the Biological Sciences division.

“I was inspired to create Ci3 because I saw that many of the problems related to sexual and reproductive health transcend one discipline,” Gilliam said in a press release. “I started looking at the University’s tremendous capacity to conduct compelling research, and I felt there were under-tapped resources to effect real change in many of the issues affecting women and children locally, nationally, and globally.”

Although the center addresses male and female reproductive issues nationally and globally, women of color on the South Side are the focus, Gilliam explained.

The largest project at the moment is the Game Changer Chicago initiative, which aims to integrate digital media and game design in order to teach youth about sexual and emotional health issues often brushed over in sexual education curricula. The project is currently being designed by a number of UChicago faculty and students, and the first game will come out online this January, according to Gilliam.

Ci3 is also collaborating with University of Chicago Center for Global Health and OB/GYNs at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, as well as Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation.

“We prize this center not only for its content, but for the exceptional level of leadership and excitement they’ve been able to generate around a vision,” University of Chicago Provost Thomas Rosenbaum said in the press release. “I’m deeply optimistic about this assemblage of people with good ideas interacting in worlds beyond their own. Together, they have the power to make a real impact.”