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Authors > Robert L. Barbieri, MD

“What controls puberty is still a great mystery, but we are getting closer to the answer.” -Robert L. Barbieri, MD

What’s New in the Field of Reproductive Endocrinology?

The amount of science that underlies our concepts of reproductive endocrinology has vastly exploded. There are many more new hormones and many more new cellular and tissue level systems that we understand more deeply today. This understanding will probably lead to new medications and new treatments for a variety of problems that are difficult to treat now. As with many books in reproductive endocrinology, you could almost put the first editions in your pocket. That is impossible today with Yen & Jaffe’s Reproductive Endocrinology, Sixth Edition because the information has expanded so dramatically, so the size of the books and their content has doubled, tripled, quadrupled over the last 40 years.

Uncovering Mysteries

What controls puberty is still a great mystery, but we are getting closer to the answer. Over the last 10 years, new hormones have been discovered that appear to be the main driver of the onset of puberty. A new neuroendocrine factor called kisspeptin appears to play a major role in starting up puberty, driving the gonadotropin-releasing hormone system, in turn driving the pituitary to make more LH and FSH, which activates the gonads – the ovaries in a woman, and the testes in a boy and a man. This neuroendocrine factor, kisspeptin, was still an undiscovered molecule ten years ago.

How It All Started

In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, when fertility and reproductive endocrinology was developing as a new field, there was no strong book in the area that focused on the basic science, the physiology, and the clinical application of the scientific understanding. Bob Jaffe, the chair at University of California San Francisco, and Sam Yen, the chair at the University of California San Diego, wrote the first edition of Reproductive Endocrinology.  It was fun to work with them as they transitioned the book to Dr. Jerry Strauss and I in its fifth and sixth editions. Drs. Jaffe and Yen together were quite dynamic and their styles played off each other wonderfully in a creative way.  Dr. Yen was a big picture thinker, who liked to think in terms of ideas that could transform a way a person understands reproductive endocrinology. Dr. Jaffe was a precise scientist, who liked to get into the molecular details of the concepts of reproductive endocrinology. They complemented each other well and I think that’s reflected in the book.


Robert L. Barbieri, MD is professor and chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard University School of Medicine. He has contributed nearly 200 review and peer review articles to medical literature, and is a co-editor of the sixth edition of Yen & Jaffe’s Reproductive Endocrinology.

Dr. Barbieri researches in the area of reproductive endocrinology, and he is an NIH-funded investigator. He has served as an elected officer and member of several national and international organizations, including ACOG, the Society for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, and the Council of University Chairs of Obstetrics and Gynecology. He holds a medical degree from Harvard Medical School, and interned at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital.