Department of OBGYN



Under Construction 7/13/2015

Research in the Department and Division

Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology

The Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology has laboratory space utilized for basic science research. This research is primarily conducted within the Division of Reproductive Sciences, located on the 11th floor of the Medical Research Building (MRB). The Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology occupies approximately 22,300 square feet within the MRB with a total of 19 laboratories. Fifty employees support the basic science research mission of the department. One current area of emphasis for basic research is uterine contractility, specifically the events that maintain the uterus in a quiescent state and then initiate labor at term. Other areas of focused research include regulation of gene expression by transcription factors and infectious diseases. The department has available within our laboratories all equipment necessary for molecular studies.


Additional assets for obstetrics and gynecologic research include the Perinatal Research Division. The division comprises two units: the Clinical Trials Unit and the Research Laboratory. The units are staffed by a total of nine individuals, including registered nurses, administrative associates, study coordinators, and laboratory technicians.


The Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology also provides investigators with publication and grant application support free of charge. The office of Publication, Grant, & Media Support consists of a director, an editor, a graphic artist, a technical writer, and an editorial assistant.


The services of the Perinatal Research Division and Publication, Grant, & Media Support will be available to our fellows.


Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine

A very strong basic science group is well-funded with primary areas of interest including hypertensive diseases, prematurity, and the physiology of both normal and abnormal labor. The basic science component includes a strong presence in clinical and applied epidemiology. A large clinical division with extensive expertise among its members that spans the full gamut of MFM further supports the fellowship. The clinical component is supported by an outstanding infrastructure to include excellent administrative and research support services, including an Infectious Disease lab within the department, the Perinatal Research Group, consisting of a team of seasoned research nurses and technicians, and an office of grants and publications. A substantial clinical base has been secured by virtue of not only the provision of care to individuals on Galveston Island, but via an intensive satellite clinic system spanning 500 geographic miles of the Gulf Coast, and encompassing 38 outlying clinics. Additional collaboration from Anesthesia, Neonatology and Pathology produce an outstanding educational opportunity.


Obstetric-Fetal Pharmacology Research Unit Network (PI- Gary D.V. Hankins, MD)

The NICHD Obstetric-Fetal Pharmacology Research Network, which was established with support from the Office of Research on Women’s Health to provide the expert infrastructure needed to test therapeutic drugs during pregnancy.  The Network allows researchers to conduct a whole new generation of safe, technically sophisticated, and complex studies that will help clinicians protect the health of women, while improving birth outcomes and reducing infant mortality.  Among one of the more recent projects of the Network is an effort to examine the safety and efficacy of glyburide, a drug used to control the blood sugar of pregnant women who have developed gestational diabetes. If untreated, gestational diabetes can cause problems for both mothers and infants.  The Network is also set to launch a new clinical trial of 17-alpha-hydroxyprogesterone caproate (17-αOHPC), a promising therapy for high-risk pregnant women.


Maternal Fetal Medicine Unit Network (PI- George Saade, MD)

The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) created the Maternal Fetal Medicine Units (MFMU) Network in 1986 to focus on clinical questions in maternal fetal medicine and obstetrics, particularly with respect to the continuing problem of preterm birth.   Operating under cooperative agreements, the current Network is comprised of fourteen university-based clinical centers and a data coordinating center.   More than 30 randomized clinical trials, cohort studies and registries have been completed or are in progress.  The MFMU Network is designed to conduct perinatal studies to improve maternal and fetal outcomes. Greatest emphasis and priority are given to randomized-controlled trials, followed by observational studies.  The major aims of the Network are to reduce the rates of preterm birth, fetal growth abnormalities, neurologic sequelae of the newborn, and maternal complications of pregnancy, as well as to evaluate maternal and fetal interventions for efficacy, safety, and cost-effectiveness. Included in these aims are translational research, the use of genetics, and the evaluation of new technologies in the promotion of maternal-child health/prevention of disease.


Genomic- Proteomic Network (PI- Radek Bukowski, MD)

The Genomic and Proteomic Network for Preterm Birth is comprised of three clinical centers: University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, University of Alabama Birmingham and the University of Utah. The analytical core is the University of Pennsylvania and the statistical core is at Yale University. The ultimate goal of the Genomic and Proteomic Network for Preterm Birth Research is to study the genetic and environmental mechanisms of spontaneous preterm birth (SPTB). Understanding those mechanisms will help us predict SPTB and design more effective prevention of SPTB and treatment strategies for sequelae of preterm birth.


Women Reproductive Health Research (PI- Gary D.V. Hankins, MD)

The department is one of a few in the US with a WRHR and BIRCWH grants, 2 training grants funded by NIH. These grants provide support for salary and laboratory expenses for junior faculty in order to spend 75% of their time in research. We currently have 3 faculties from the Maternal Fetal Medicine Division who are WRHR Scholars. This path is available for the fellows upon graduation, either to transition into an independent investigator or to complete a Ph.D. program. In fact, one of the current WRHR scholars graduated from our fellowship program.


Perinatal Research Division

The Perinatal Research Division (PRD) supports the clinical research trials done by the Maternal Fetal Medicine Division. Our staff consisting of Nurse Practitioners, RNs and research coordinators is charged with the day-to-day logistics of the clinical studies. This team works together to screen for potential subjects, obtain informed consent, perform study specific procedures, collect and process specimens, and maintain regulatory documents for all studies. The PRD is a critical link between investigators, patients, and healthcare providers involved in research that focuses on improving maternal and child health. The PRD is structured to provide all services necessary for the completion of clinical studies on a 24 hour basis with PRD team members staffing an L&D research office 24/7. They also have a presence in the Regional Maternal and Child Health Clinics recruiting and enrolling patients into various longitudinal studies.


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This site published by Mary Jo Urbani for the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology's Maternal Fetal Medicine Fellowship
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Last modified 05/24/2010