Meta-Research: The need for more research into reproductive health and disease

  1. Natalie Diana Mercuri
  2. Brian J Cox  Is a corresponding author
  1. University of Toronto, Canada


Reproductive diseases have a significant impact on human health, especially on women’s health: endometriosis affects 10% of all reproductive-aged women but is often undiagnosed for many years, and preeclampsia claims over 70,000 maternal and 500,000 neonatal lives every year. Infertility rates are also rising. However, relatively few new treatments or diagnostics for reproductive diseases have emerged in recent decades. Here, based on analyses of PubMed, we report that the number of research articles published on non-reproductive organs is 4.5 times higher than the number published on reproductive organs. Moreover, for the two most-researched reproductive organs (breast and prostate), the focus is on non-reproductive diseases such as cancer. Further, analyses of grant databases maintained by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the National Institutes of Health in the United States show that the number of grants for research on non-reproductive organs is 6-7 times higher than the number for reproductive organs. Our results suggest that there are too few researchers working in the field of reproductive health and disease, and that funders, educators and the research community must take action to combat this longstanding disregard for reproductive science.

Data availability

All data were obtained from public databases (PubMed/NCBI, NIH and CIHR).

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Natalie Diana Mercuri

    Department of Physiology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-2276-5835
  2. Brian J Cox

    1Department of Physiology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0001-7146-6041


University of Toronto

  • Natalie Diana Mercuri

Canada Research Chairs

  • Brian J Cox

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Peter Rodgers, eLife, United Kingdom

Publication history

  1. Received: October 28, 2021
  2. Preprint posted: November 19, 2021 (view preprint)
  3. Accepted: December 12, 2022
  4. Accepted Manuscript published: December 13, 2022 (version 1)
  5. Accepted Manuscript updated: December 13, 2022 (version 2)
  6. Version of Record published: December 21, 2022 (version 3)


© 2022, Mercuri & Cox

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.


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  1. Natalie Diana Mercuri
  2. Brian J Cox
Meta-Research: The need for more research into reproductive health and disease
eLife 11:e75061.
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