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Reply to “Diversity is essential for good science and Reproductive science is no different: A response to the recent formulation of the Burroughs Welcome Fund Pregnancy Think-Tank”

Published:August 10, 2020DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajog.2020.08.009
      We thank Drs Bonney, Elovitz, and Mysorekar for their Letter to the Editors
      • Bonney E.A.
      • Elovitz M.A.
      • Mysorekar I.U.
      Diversity is essential for good science and reproductive science is no different: a response to the recent formulation of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Pregnancy Think-Tank.
      regarding our Special Report in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
      • Sadovsky Y.
      • Mesiano S.
      • Burton G.J.
      • et al.
      Advancing human health in the decade ahead: pregnancy as a key window for discovery: a Burroughs Wellcome Fund Pregnancy Think Tank.
      The primary issue raised was in the makeup of the think tank participants. Similar comments were made on social media. The small size of the think tank gathering and our intense attention to scientific diversity, seeking unique disciplines that are underrepresented in perinatal biology, led to inadequate consideration of other components of diversity. We are committed to ensuring greater representation across domains in all future events and activities.
      We concur with the need to incorporate known factors that influence pregnancy, such as socioeconomic status, disparities, environmental adversity, and other social determinants of health. These were discussed by the assembled participants and were clearly highlighted in the manuscript. Future interactions that focus on these factors would be a welcome addition to this effort and an opportunity for all of us committed to improving the health outcomes for women and infants to include more diverse and global expertise.
      In generating the relatively small 30-person group, our goal was to include a diversity of scientific disciplines that had strong and untapped potential to reveal new insights into the biology of healthy pregnancy and pathologic mechanisms of gestational diseases. The basic biomedical sciences were a priority, aligned with the sponsor’s, Burroughs Wellcome Fund (BWF), mission. These experts, each accomplished in their respective areas, represented some investigators already pursuing questions in reproductive sciences from various approaches. It included many experts new to pregnancy research from disciplines not historically engaged in such inquiries. One individual was invited from each scientific area. Therefore, only 2 of the participants had clinical training and practice experience in obstetrics. Notably, 2 of the 4 invited organizing committee members were women, with 1 of color.
      All of the participants and the BWF are invested in diversity of gender, race and ethnicity, age, geography, and sexual orientation, which lend the needed and beneficial perspectives to discovery and prioritization. Diversity initiatives and support have been long-standing priorities of BWF for advancing the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and biomedical pipeline (see grant-programs/diversity-science" title="https://www.bwfund.org/grant-programs/diversity-science"), and these considerations will infuse future workshops, symposia, and think tanks. Of note, BWF supported another reproductive sciences meeting the week before this think tank, entitled “Reproductive scientists for women’s health: from pre-conception to the cradle” (https://www.research.manchester.ac.uk/portal/en/activities/reproductive-scientists-for-womens-health-from-preconception-to-the-cradle(cee9bd50-be81-4566-893a-803259334217).html). This international meeting of similar size included 75% female speakers. This separate event is a recent demonstration of BWF’s commitment to all forms of diversity, particularly in the reproductive sciences.
      BWF welcomes requests for symposia and workshops in the reproductive sciences that foster diversity, incorporate basic sciences, and address the impact of racism, environmental exposures, and social determinants on all populations to solve the critical reproductive health challenges for women globally.

      References

        • Bonney E.A.
        • Elovitz M.A.
        • Mysorekar I.U.
        Diversity is essential for good science and reproductive science is no different: a response to the recent formulation of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Pregnancy Think-Tank.
        Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2020; 223: 950-951
        • Sadovsky Y.
        • Mesiano S.
        • Burton G.J.
        • et al.
        Advancing human health in the decade ahead: pregnancy as a key window for discovery: a Burroughs Wellcome Fund Pregnancy Think Tank.
        Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2020; ([Epub ahead of print])

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