About the Program

Our fellowship program follows the educational objectives in the Guide to Learning from American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ABOG) as well as the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) milestones.

We have a strong emphasis on:

  • Clinical reproductive endocrinology
  • Infertility management, including:
    • In vitro fertilization (IVF)
  • Ultrasound evaluation of gynecological disorders
  • Endoscopic surgery

Because we serve as a referral center for all eastern Iowa, western Illinois, and northern Missouri, we have many interesting and unusual cases, including:

  • Müllerian anomalies
  • Primary amenorrhea patients
  • Difficult surgical cases

As such, we offer fellow physicians the educational opportunity of seeing the full breadth of our subspecialty.

We are also dedicated to providing fellows excellent research opportunities in both basic science and clinical investigation. Publishing a thesis paper will be the first priority of our fellows. We expect fellows to become strong researchers and clinicians.

Clinical Care

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

We have a proven and consistent record of pregnancy success and program integrity in our IVF center. We pride ourselves on innovative, effective, and ethical clinical care for the >300 patients undergoing egg retrievals and >150 patients undergoing frozen embryo transfers each year. We also have active and FDA-compliant third party IVF programs, including donor gamete, donor embryo and gestational surrogacy programs.  We are particularly proud of our leading role in decreasing the number of multiple gestation IVF pregnancies through innovative work in single embryo transfer.

Our IVF and Reproductive Testing Lab Director, Amy Sparks PhD, is a recognized leader in the field of clinical embryology. Dr. Sparks is a certified High Complexity Lab Director and College of American Pathologists (CAP) inspector, and our lab has been continuously CAP certified. Our lab performs the full range of standard IVF procedures including ICSI, assisted hatching, blastocyst culture, embryo cryopreservation, and biopsy for preimplantation testing. Through our laboratory, fellows are exposed to the latest IVF and embryology techniques and to cutting edge laboratory quality control practices to maintain excellent IVF results. Dr. Sparks also actively participates in research projects in the Division, including collaborative projects with fellows that utilize follicular fluid, spent media, and donated embryos.

Gynecologic Ultrasonography

A strong experience in ultrasonography is essential for fellows to appropriately evaluate reproductive tract abnormalities and to perform high quality IVF. Our clinical resources include a fully accredited ultrasound unit which performs all of the gynecologic and early obstetrical ultrasonography for the entire University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Last year this included over 4,000 ultrasounds. Our sonographers are actively engaged in teaching ultrasound skills to residents and fellows, and regularly participate in research studies investigating ultrasound methods or outcomes. Fellows are not responsible for independently performing an excessive number of ultrasound scans but instead are guided through a moderate number of studies on their way to independent practice.

We have utilized our excellent ultrasound unit for clinical investigation, including some of the initial studies on high frequency transvaginal ultrasonography and its use in detecting abnormalities of the reproductive tract. For example, we published the first series of saline infusion sonography (SIS) in the United States and the initial observations on the use of ovarian volume in predicting stimulation and pregnancy following IVF. We also published the first observation that color Doppler studies can be used to aid in the diagnosis ovarian torsion following ovarian hyperstimulation, the phenomenon of uterine diverticula from C-sections as a source of abnormal uterine bleeding, and the natural history of uterine polyps and fibroids. All of this active clinical and investigative work results in excellent training opportunities for our fellows.

Reproductive Endocrinology Surgery

Fellows in our program have superior exposure to surgical procedures in REI and in Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology. As a referral center, we see complex surgical cases including severe endometriosis, Müllerian anomalies and uterine fibroids. In fact, our REI faculty members staff our department’s Fibroid Clinic, providing a solid experience with this disease and its surgical opportunities. Although laparoscopic surgical procedures are decreasing in our field due to improving success rates with IVF, we still perform more than an adequate number of these cases to provide fellows with excellent exposure. We have state of the art laparoscopic and hysteroscopic equipment for the performance of difficult endoscopic surgery, and all of our staff members are fully trained in endoscopic and robotic surgery. With this experience and our support for SREI-sponsored surgical training workshops, fellows are expected to become excellent endoscopic surgeons during their training.

Clinical Reproductive Endocrinology and Pediatric/Adolescent Gynecology

Fellows benefit from a large patient volume from a wide catchment area while they are on clinical rotations in REI, where we saw >1,000 new patients and  >6,000 return patients this past year. The Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology Clinic is also administered through the REI Division, and this clinic saw >200 new patients this past year. Fellows benefit from strong collaborative partnerships with Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, and Urology, as they spend time in Medical Endocrinology, Pediatric Endocrinology and Male Infertility clinics learning pertinent subspecialty care from experts who also contribute to didactic teaching. Fellows spend approximately one day each month of their clinical rotations working with a faculty member in our outreach clinic and affiliated operating suite. This gives them invaluable experience with a blended academic / private practice model of REI care.

Education and Conferences

Departmental Education

The Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Morbidity and Mortality (M&M) Conference is held on Tuesday mornings. During this time, cases from the preceding week are presented by the residents and discussed by the department. The fellows are encouraged to participate in this learning experience.

The Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Grand Rounds follows the Morbidity and Mortality conference. Grand Rounds consists of speakers from within the department, as well as invited guests from other medical institutions. Each fellow presents at one Grand Rounds conference per year.

Didactic Sessions

Didactic sessions are held to systematically review all basic science and clinical aspects of reproductive endocrinology and infertility as described in the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ABOG) Guide to Learning. These include lectures by the faculty, fellows, and invited guests from other departments.

Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility Journal Club

Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility Journal Club is a conference where faculty members and fellows alternate the presentation of articles. Fellows are assisted in the choice of articles by any one of the faculty members and typically include current clinical or scientific findings. 

University Lectures

Numerous outstanding University and College of Medicine lectures are available and fellows are encouraged to attend when possible. Opportunities include other departmental grand rounds and invited speakers. 

Program Accreditation

Program Accreditation

The Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Fellowship Program at University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.

Information specific to program requirements for a reproductive endocrinology and infertility fellowship training program and milestones for fellow performance may be found at the ACGME’s Obstetrics and Gynecology Review Committee (RC).

Board Certification

The ABOG-American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology is an independent, non-profit organization that certifies obstetricians and gynecologists in the United State. Visit the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology for information on board certification requirements.

Research Opportunities

Basic Science Research

There are many opportunities for basic science research at the University of Iowa, both within our department and through collaborations across campus.

We require that fellow physicians meet with possible research mentors early in their fellowship and choose, with guidance, a top quality research project that can be completed during fellowship.

We carefully protect the fellows’ research time to ensure that projects are completed successfully because it is important.

Clinical Research Summary

Our division has a proud history of publishing high quality clinical research in the field of reproductive endocrinology and infertility (REI). We completed several prospective randomized trials regarding new aspects of in vitro fertilization (IVF) and infertility. In addition, a number of outcomes-based studies on infertility as well as other gynecologic conditions have been published by our faculty and fellows.

Brad Van Voorhis, MD, has a particular interest and expertise in cost-effectiveness research on treatment and evaluation of the infertile couple.

Our outcomes-based research is facilitated by our extensive and continuously updated patient database that has been tracking our infertility patients since 1990.

We were recently involved in a NICHD-sponsored multicenter trial (FAZST/IDEAL study) looking at diet and lifestyle influences on sperm function and fertility.