Thirty years of helping women

Dr. Andrew KaunitzLongtime faculty member and expert on women’s care selected as second Jacksonville faculty member to receive UF research award

Andrew Kaunitz, M.D., is widely respected in the arena of women’s health. His extensive research in obstetrics and gynecology has been sought out and referenced for decades throughout the country and also internationally.

Kaunitz, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the College of Medicine – Jacksonville, has authored or co-authored 175 peer-reviewed publications, which have been cited more than 4,700 times. He’s written more than 50 chapters in prominent medical texts and authored 11 sections in the popular electronic medical resource UpToDate.

Earlier this year, UF recognized Kaunitz’s contributions by awarding him a UF Research Foundation Professorship. The accolade is given each May to tenured faculty members who have a distinguished research record. Its purpose is to recognize recent contributions and provide incentive for continued excellence in research.

Kaunitz is only the second UF faculty member in Jacksonville to receive the honor.

“I was very pleased to hear that I had been selected,” he said. “It’s something that’s very positive for our campus. I look forward to other Jacksonville faculty receiving this recognition in the future.”

Kaunitz has been a UF College of Medicine – Jacksonville faculty member since 1984. During his time in Jacksonville, he’s done a great deal of research on women’s health, particularly in the areas of contraception, menopause and gynecology.

He has served as the local site investigator for nearly 60 clinical trial studies. Perhaps the most prominent was the Women’s Health Initiative, a National Institutes of Health-sponsored trial on the health of menopausal women. It focused on benefits and risks of hormone therapy. 

More recently, Kaunitz served as lead investigator for an international multicenter trial of a hormone-releasing intrauterine device system, or IUD, to address heavy menstrual bleeding. The study led to the device receiving Food and Drug Administration approval for treating this common issue in women. As a result, surgery is no longer the only solution for women dealing with this problem.  

Kaunitz and his colleagues are now recruiting participants for two trials. One is to assess an investigational nonsurgical treatment for uterine fibroids, which are common tumors that originate in the uterus and often cause heavy menstrual bleeding.

The other trial is assessing a new approach to estrogen-progestin therapy in women with bothersome menopausal symptoms commonly known as night sweats or “hot flashes.”

Kaunitz also hopes to start recruiting patients soon for an NIH-funded trial that aims to prevent transmission of genital herpes from mother to infant. The study will be in collaboration with University of Washington investigators.  

Kaunitz’s UFRF professorship award includes a $5,000 annual salary supplement for three years and a one-time $3,000 grant. 

“For nearly two decades, the UFRF professorships have recognized the university’s top faculty researchers,” said David Norton, UF’s vice president for research. “Key to the UFRF professorship selection process is that it is based not only on what these individuals have done in the past, but what they are expected to achieve in the future. These are faculty who we anticipate will continue to generate cutting-edge research well into the future.”