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Drug Development

The research faculty in our department do incredible work in regards to research and how that research impacts healthcare around the world. Led by our Chairman, Dr. Gary Hankins, we continue to be at the forefront of innovative breakthroughs in healthcare and, despite drastic budget cuts in the past several years at the federal agency level, we continue to be at the top of the NIH funding lists for Obstetric and Gynecology departments around the country.

The Obstetric-Fetal Pharmacology Research Center (OPRC) Network

The OPRC Network is sponsored by the NICHD and focuses on pharmacologic outcomes in pregnant women. The study of drugs used during pregnancy is one of the most neglected areas in clinical pharmacology and drug research. The lack of Food and Drug Administration obstetric labeling and the universal off-label use of drugs in pregnancy are the direct result of the inadequacy of research and clinical trials of drugs in this special population. A major goal of this program is to identify, characterize, and study those drugs that are of therapeutic value during pregnancy and whose clinical pharmacology (both pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics) is altered by the pregnant state in normal or abnormal pregnancies. The OPRC site at UTMB also serves as a resource for training health professionals in obstetric-fetal pharmacology and drug trials in pregnant women. Ob/Gyn Vice Chair, Gary D.V. Hankins, MD, is the principal investigator overseeing the University’s OPRC.

hankinsGary Hankins, MD | Professor and Chairman | Obstetrics and Gynecology

Dr. Hankins has worked closely with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, serving in multiple leadership positions. He was a co-chairman of the Pregnancy and Infant Working Group of the National Children’s Study sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and has been instrumental to the progress achieved on the International Prenatal Alcohol and SIDS and Stillbirth Network. Dr. Hankins serves as principal investigator on a number of national multicenter and network projects, including the ongoing Obstetric Pharmacology Research Center's investigative studies and the Women's Reproductive Health Research training program, both sponsored by the NIH.

His productive career as a clinical scientist includes notable contributions in clinical outcome studies. I have worked extensively in fetal pharmacology, as evidenced by the fact that I am PI for the R01 grant “Bupropion for smoking cessation during pregnancy“ and contact PI for UTMB’s NIH-funded OPRC site, as well as alternate PI for our Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units Network (MFMU) U10 multicenter grant. I also have experience in conducting PK investigations for medications used in treatment of the pregnant patients, including glyburide, 17-hydroxyprogestrone caproate, and numerous other opportunistic medications. As the Principal Investigator for the Women’s Reproductive Health Research (WRHR) K12 training grant, I am actively involved in mentoring fellows and junior faculty

MAhmedMahmoud Ahmed, PhD | Professor | Obstetrics and Gynecology

The goal of our research program is to make more of the current medications available for treatment of the pregnant patient. This goal is achieved by two major projects namely, clinical and translational. The clinical is to determine the pharmacokinetics of the medication during pregnancy. The translational is to understand the role of human placenta in regulating fetal exposure to the medication throughout gestation. 

ryttigErik Rytting, MD PhD | Associate Professor | Obstetrics and Gynecology

Our research seeks to improve therapeutic options when medication must be administered during pregnancy.  This includes understanding drug transfer across the placenta, pharmacokinetic studies to predict appropriate doses, and the development of nanomedicine for targeted drug delivery.

nanovskayaTatiana Nanovskaya, PhD | Associate Professor | Obstetrics and Gynecology

Our goals for the investigation is to examine preliminary safety and efficacy of bupropion sustained release (SR) to help pregnant women stop smoking. We are determining whether bupropion SR reduces cigarette craving and withdrawal symptoms during pregnancy. This research is necessary for development of medications to treat pregnant smokers.