$2.5 Million Gift to Duquesne’s Medical School Will Create Center for Modern Fertility Awareness Education

A Pittsburgh-based anonymous donor has provided Duquesne University a $2.5 million gift to support its proposed College of Osteopathic Medicine. The gift will fund the Center for Fertility Awareness-Based Education and Research, which will provide medical students with fertility-awareness training as part of their overall medical education.

Thanks to the gift, Duquesne's medical school will be a leader in training future physicians in fertility awareness training.    

"We are thrilled to have a gift that helps us educate medical professionals to use a wide array of tools at their disposal to treat the whole person," says Dr. John Kauffman, dean of the medical school. "Fertility awareness is a tool that goes beyond family planning and ensures that physicians have a comprehensive understanding of their patient's health."  

One of the primary effects of this training is to provide those wishing to start a family with another set of options to consider. In-vitro fertilization (IVF) is a standard approach to infertility, but is expensive and not always effective. Fertility awareness can support patients who are hoping to start a family including those who may struggle with infertility.  

That is exactly what happened for Colleen Kiss, a North Huntingdon woman who struggled to conceive for more than 18 months. After seeing infertility specialists, going through several medical tests, and using various methods, her doctor told her that she had unexplained infertility and recommended IVF.  

"I wasn't comfortable with that answer so I started looking into other methods," she said. Her research led her to Dr. Blaise Milburn, a Steubenville, Ohio obstetrician who uses fertility awareness training to tailor treatment to the individual patient. Using the Creighton Model, a system that charts biological markers essential to a woman's fertility, and additional tests, Milburn discovered the problem.  

"Dr. Milburn diagnosed me with stage 3 endometriosis, which he found in several parts of my body," Kiss said. "I underwent surgery to remove the disease and just six weeks later, I was pregnant."  

Kiss gave birth to her daughter, Hope Kathleen, in November 2021, and advises women struggling with infertility to explore all of their options.  

"I'm so glad Duquesne is establishing this center because so many people struggle with infertility," she said. "By improving fertility awareness among doctors, more women will know their options if faced with this problem."  

Dr. Kauffman notes that fertility-awareness training provides physicians with tools that improve patients' awareness of fertility cycles. The College of Medicine remains grateful to the anonymous benefactor for this generous gift and the training that will be provided for the next generation of physicians to serve patients in our region.  

Duquesne's decision to pursue accreditation for a proposed College of Osteopathic Medicine was announced in 2019, with the medical school achieving candidate status with accreditors in October 2021. In March 2022, the University broke ground for the new facility that will house the school. With Dr. John Kauffman as the founding dean, Duquesne's medical school plans to enroll its first class in fall 2024.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and horizon-expanding education. A campus of nearly 8,500 graduate and undergraduate students, Duquesne prepares students by having them work alongside faculty to discover and reach their goals. The University’s academic programs, community service, and commitment to equity and opportunity in the Pittsburgh region have earned national acclaim.

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