Pittsburgh researchers target genetic, environmental threats to maternal and fetal health

PITTSBURGH, Oct. 28 The Pittsburgh Development Center of the Magee-Womens Research Institute, and four other Oakland-based health care and academic institutions will share a $5.9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health's Office of Research on Women's Health to study genetic and environmental causes of adverse pregnancy outcomes over five years.

Researchers from the Pittsburgh Development Center, Magee-Womens Hospital, the University of Pittsburgh, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University will be partners in the project as an NIH-designated Specialized Center of Research (SCOR) on Sex and Gender Factors Affecting Women's Health. The Pittsburgh-based team will be one of 11 designated by the NIH in the U.S., and the only one in Pennsylvania.

Leading the effort will be principal investigator Gerald Schatten, Ph.D., director of the Pittsburgh Development Center; and Sarah Berga, M.D., a professor in the departments of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences and psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

"We all know that genetic inheritance plays a vital role in overall health," said Dr. Schatten, who also is vice chair for research development and professor of obstetrics, gynecology, reproductive sciences, cell biology and physiology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine."But prenatal environmental exposures also help to trace a lifelong health history. This is a major, under-investigated priority that affects not only women's health, but also the health of developing fetuses and infants."

The Pittsburgh team will conduct clinical and pre-clinical studies that focus on the genetic components of recurrent miscarriage, normal and abnormal pregnancy and the maternal and fetal consequences of tobacco smoke exposure. Research protocols will use non-invasive diagnostic imaging scans including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET) and c

Contact: Michele Baum
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

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