Medical Discovery

The University of Washington is both a clinical and research institution. Our reproductive care department includes not just the clinical care of patients, but also an ongoing investment into the research of fertility and reproduction.

Dr. Steiner and Dr. Patton are working to broaden our scientific understanding of these topics.

Dr. Robert Steiner’s research focuses on understanding the biology of reproduction. We also hope that our work at the Steiner lab may reveal the causes of certain reproductive disorders, such as early puberty and hypogonadotropic hypogonadism, a condition in which the sex glands don’t produce enough hormones.

By identifying causes, we may be able to take steps toward finding new and more effective treatments for these disorders.

Research at the lab could also provide the foundation for new and better methods of hormonal contraception.

Ongoing research at the Steiner lab includes investigations into the following areas:

  • How puberty is triggered on a cellular level
  • The signals that cause an increase in hormones before ovulation
  • The sexual differentiation of the brain
  • The physiological connection between metabolism, body weight and reproduction

If you’d like to read more about Dr. Robert Steiner and his research, please visit his faculty biography and our laboratory page.

Dr. Dorothy Patton's research focuses on using topical microbicides — substances that kill microorganisms such as bacteria — to help prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

We hope that our work will lead to the eradication of several STIs that are caused by the Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria. We are investigating the possibility of using vaginal and rectal topical microbicides as well as vaccines to prevent chlamydial infection.

If you’d like to read more about Dr. Patton and her research, please visit her faculty biography and our microbicides research page.