The National Research Initiative (NRI) Competitive Grants Program is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's major competitive grants program and is administered by the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES). Since its inception in 1991, the NRI has funded competitive grants in the discipline of animal reproduction. Previously, this program provided funding for a broad range of projects encompassing almost every subdiscipline in reproductive biology of farm animals, including aquatic species important to the aquaculture industry. During fiscal year 2004, the NRI Animal Reproduction Program narrowed the focus of funding priorities to the topics of infertility, basic mechanisms regulating fertility, cryopreservation of gametes, reducing the postpartum interval to conception, and sterilization methods or development of monosex populations. In response to a directive to further narrow the focus of funding priorities for fiscal year 2005 and beyond, CSREES conducted a Stakeholder Workshop on Funding Priorities in Animal Reproduction at the 37th Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Reproduction in Vancouver, Canada. More than 75 stakeholder scientists from a cross section of federal, public, and private institutions from across the United States participated in the workshop and provided recommendations to CSREES for future NRI-funding priorities in Animal Reproduction. The recommendations provided by stakeholders included continuing efforts to focus funding priorities into fewer high-impact areas relevant to animal agriculture and aquaculture. Recommendations also included movement back toward subdisciplines of animal reproduction that cut across all applicable species. The three funding priorities that consistently emerged as recommendations from the workshop participants were 1) gonadal function and production of gametes, 2) pituitary-hypothalamic function, and 3) embryo and conceptus development, including interaction between the conceptus and uterus. These funding priorities were considered when preparing the fiscal year 2006 NRI Request for Applications.
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