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Reproductive Health

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.

Dr. Hankins leads our dynamic research team as the #14th funded Ob/Gyn in the country, according to the 2013 Blue Ridge rankings.

Women’s Reproductive Health Research (WRHR)

The main goal of the Women's Reproductive Health Research career development program is to provide high-quality training of young physicians dedicated to women’s health-related research and to develop a strong team of future mentors from our growing group of past WRHR Scholars.

 The WRHR Program was initiated in 1998 to provide the opportunity for obstetrician/gynecologists (Ob/Gyns) who recently completed postgraduate clinical training to further their education and experience in basic, translational, and clinical research. Program sites provide obstetrics and gynecology departments with an opportunity to create a talented pool of junior investigators with expertise in women's health research. The WRHR Program is funded by the NICHD, through its Gynecology Health and Disease Branch (formerly the Reproductive Sciences Branch), and the NIH Office of Research on Women's Health using the NIH Mentored Research Scientist Development Program Award (K12) mechanism.

Below is a short summary of each Investigators area’s of research interest and expertise:

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 Units 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.

SaeedeGeorge Saade, MD PhD | Professor | Obstetrics and Gynecology

Our research focus is on how pregnancy affects long-term health for the mother and the child. I am also involved in multicenter clinical trials that test various interventions to improve pregnancy outcomes.

BerensonAbbey Berenson, MD PhD | Professor | Obstetrics and Gynecology

Our research has focused over the past 25 years on a variety of issues related to women’s health across the lifespan. Currently, we are focusing on issues related to cancer prevention and family planning.


EngleEgle Bytautiene Prewit, MD PhD | Assistant Professor | Obstetrics and Gynecology

The overarching goal of my research is to determine the mechanisms by which pregnancy and the postpartum period act as a window to the future maternal and their children health. Specifically, we concentrate on pregnancy with its complications such as obesity and preeclampsia with focus on short and long-term maternal and fetal cardiovascular and metabolic outcomes. Recently, studies on the maternal benefits resulting from breastfeeding had been added to our portfolio.  With our research with aspire to provide a background for the future diagnostic and therapeutic measures to improve the health women and their families.

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.