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Northwestern University

Teresa Woodruff, 3D Printed Bioprosthetic Ovaries

Teresa WoodruffThe new world of 3-D printed organs now includes implanted ovary structures that, true to their design, actually ovulate, according to recent research partially from Teresa Woodruff’s laboratory at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

By removing a female mouse’s ovary and replacing it with a bioprosthetic ovary, the mouse was able to ovulate and give birth to healthy pups. The moms were even able to nurse their young.

“Using bioengineering, instead of transplanting from a cadaver, to create organ structures that function and restore the health of that tissue for that person, is the holy grail of bioengineering for regenerative medicine,” said Woodruff, the Thomas J. Watkins Memorial Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Feinberg. Woodruff became the dean of The Graduate School and associate provost for graduate education at Northwestern Sept. 1, 2017.

These 3-D printed bioprosthetic ovaries are just one example of Woodruff’s laser focus on female inclusion in medical and scientific research. As the founder and director of the Women’s Health Research Institute at Northwestern, Woodruff aims to improve women’s health beyond the reproductive system by increasing knowledge of sex differences in medical research.

In 2016, Woodruff helped persuade the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to change its policy so that females — from animals to people — must be considered in all NIH-funded studies. 

“It will revolutionize the way drugs and medical devices are developed, and medical treatment and diagnoses will be enormously different to the advantage of both women’s and men’s health,” she said. 

Woodruff has appeared on Time magazine’s list of most influential people and on CBS’ 60 Minutes in a segment dedicated to the importance of sex-specific research. In 2011, she received a presidential award at the White House from President Barack Obama.

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