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Penn Gynecologist Collaborates with Her Sister to Explore the “Wild West” of Reproductive Medicine

Billy the Kid. Jesse James. Buffalo Bill. Wild Bill Hickok. We’ve all heard the names before: They’re the colorful and dangerous characters of America’s old “wild west” that have dominated U.S. cinema and television for decades. And that is where the connotations of entertainment end.

Today, whenever an emerging trend – usually something in technology or medicine – expands into uncharted territory, outpacing regulation, you’ll hear it being referred to as the “wild west.” (Think cyber-stalking or dietary and weight loss supplements.) The field of reproductive medicine and all it entails, especially in the United States, is another potential example.


The U.S. remains virtually the only developed nation in the world that has no national policy on assisted reproduction. Since the emergence of the field 40 years ago, the federal government has not funded, regulated, prohibited or approved any reproductive technologies or practices, including vitro fertilization, sperm, egg and embryo donation, gestational carriers and surrogates.

Wanda Ronner, MD, left, and her sister Margaret Marsh, PhD.

“Societal conflicts involving reproductive technology – often politically and religion-based – are so deep and divisive that as a nation, we’re unable to find common ground,” said Wanda Ronner, MD, professor of Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Perelman School of Medicine, a gynecologist and medical student coordinator at Pennsylvania Hospital. “So it has been by default that we’ve allowed the market to determine access to reproductive services.”

Ronner and her sister Margaret Marsh, PhD, a distinguished professor of History at Rutgers University and fellow researcher and author, are collaborating once again to seek answers to how and why the current state of reproductive medicine in the U.S. developed and its effects on potential parents, egg and sperm donors, surrogates, researchers, health care providers, and society as a whole. Most important, Ronner and Marsh hope to devise possible solutions for change to both medical practice and policy.

Funded by a three-year Investigator Award in Health Policy Research from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Ronner and Marsh are on their way to exploring the recent history of infertility, reproductive medicine reproductive and technology. “We’re both really excited to be working together again and hope our joint expertise in experiences from past collaborations will help us address the many looming issues surrounding infertility and reproductive medicine,” said Ronner.

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Finding the Right Words for Better Health: October is Health Literacy Month

What is health literacy? Health literacy can be described as the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions. In other...Full story

Health Literacy Month Events:

Test Your EQ for Health Literacy Thursday, October 23 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.Elm Garden Cafeteria Health education professional Pamela Zubow Poe, PhD. will have games, test questions, and other activities so you can learn your emotional intel...Full story

Be a Health Literacy Hero: Make health information simple and easy to understand!

How can we improve health literacy? Verbal communications: Speak in a way patients understand. It can be difficult for patients and family members to follow us when we speak using big words and long sentences. This is especially true ...Full story

Penn's Way 2015

Penn’s Way is underway across all our campuses! This year’s campaign kicked off on September 29 and continues through Friday, November 14. In partnership with our colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania, Penn Medicine is stepping up ...Full story

Giving is Penn’s way!

Get information about some of the exceptional organizations that benefit from Penn’s Way on the following Wednesdays at the PAH Penn’s Way Fairsheld in the Elm Garden Cafeteria from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.: October 22, 29, and November 5. It’s f...Full story

What’s Happening – Your resource for events and happenings throughout PAH and Penn Medicine

2014-15 Flu Campaign button
October 15 – December 1Free Employee Flu Vaccines Fall 2014 Penn Program for Mindfulness Courses Special Events October 24PAH Infant Remembrance Day Memorial Candle Lighting October 24 PPMC’s 5thAnnual Cultural Diversity Conference Oc...Full story

So Glad We Had This Time Together

After 37 years of extraordinary commitment and dedication to Pennsylvania Hospital, our Executive Director R. Michael Buckley, MD, is retiring this fall. As our executive director, Dr. Buckley has been responsible for the clinical, resear...Full story

To Say “Thank You and Farewell”


Theresa Larivee Appointed New Executive Director of PAH

Theresa Larivee
Theresa Larivee has been named the new Executive Director of Pennsylvania Hospital, effectiveNovember 1.Theresa, currently Vice President, Financial Operations and Budget for UPHS, joined the health system in 2008 with twenty-two years of...Full story

The Patient Experience…

The following letter is from patient of William C. Welch, MD, FACS, FICS, chair of the Department of Neurosurgery at PAH, who wrote to express his gratitude and share his personal patient experience. Dear Dr. Welch, A few months ago I h...Full story

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