Associate Professor of Clinical Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine
Our research evaluates the consequences of disrupting the unique immunoendocrine relationship of pregnancy where a genetically foreign tissue evades the maternal immune system by suppressing inflammation. Most of the problems in modern obstetrics including preeclampsia, preterm birth, preterm premature rupture of membranes, and placental abruption are correlated with inflammation at the maternal-fetal interface. In recent years, there has also been an increasing appreciation that exposure to infection and/or inflammation may increase the risk of autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders in the offspring. We have 2 main research areas.
1. Immunomodulatory therapies for improving pregnancy outcome. Although intra-uterine infections are frequently associated with preterm birth, the majority of the adverse outcomes appear to be associated with the host response to the infection rather than the bacteria themselves. Antibiotic therapies to prevent preterm birth have largely failed because they provide, at best, a one-time clearance of the pathogen. However, anti-inflammatory drugs such as Interleukin-10, PGJ2, antibodies to TNF-a, sulfasalazine, and carbon monoxide improved pregnancy outcomes in animal models. We are exploring how dietary factors that regulate the production of HO-1, an enzyme that produces carbon monoxide endogenously, may improve outcomes of pregnancies complicated by intrauterine infection using cell culture and animal model systems.