« Back

Research

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.

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.

 


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. 

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.

 


Sherif Abdel-RahmanSherif Abdel-Rahman, PhD | Associate Professor | Obstetrics and Gynecology

Our research program focuses on understanding the role of polymorphisms (inherited DNA sequence variations) in influencing individual sensitivity to environmental exposures and response to medications. The over arching goal is to improve our ability to estimate disease risk in human populations and to develop new personalized therapeutic modalities


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.


nowakowskiSara Nowakowski, PhD | Assistant Professor | Obstetrics and Gynecology

Our research interests focus on examining strategies to translate evidenced-based practices for women’s behavioral health into clinical practice.  Her current federally and non-federally funded research focuses on developing a primary care-friendly cognitive behavioral therapy intervention for insomnia and nocturnal hot flashes for peri- and postmenopausal women and to examine acceptability, feasibility, and indications of effectiveness in a pilot study.


templeJeffrey Temple, PhD | Professor | Obstetrics and Gynecology

Our research focuses on adolescent health and interpersonal relationships, with a particular emphasis on adolescent relationship abuse. He is the PI on Dating It Safe, which is one of the longest-running studies to explicitly investigate the development and risk and protective factors of teen dating violence. Using data from his ongoing study, Dr. Temple is also developing, adapting, and testing school-based healthy relationship curriculums ...more...


menonRamkumar Menon, PhD | Associate Professor | Obstetrics and Gynecology

Our research is focused on the mechanisms of pre-term premature rupture of the human fetal membrane (pPROM), which is associated with 40% of premature births and leading cause of neonatal morbidity and mortality. My laboratory is examining factors that cause premature aging (senescence) of human placenta as a cause of pPROM and prematurity.


vincentKathleen Vincent, MD | Clinical Assistant Professor | Obstetrics and Gynecology

Our research focuses on application of biomedical engineering technologies to women’s health research.  I utilize imaging from the cellular level to whole body imaging for the study of maternal-fetal health, obesity, benign gynecologic disorders, bacterial vaginosis, and vaginal drug delivery.  Additionally, I collaborate with women’s health researchers to bring novel technologies into their field of research.


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.


Network Studies

In addition, the department has been involved with several major “network studies” over the years that have brought unprecedented research outcomes to the healthcare environment. Some of these active studies are summarized below:


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.


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.


Cooperative Multicenter Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units Network (MFMU)

The major goal of this project is to participate with the NICHD under a cooperative agreement in an ongoing multicenter clinical program designed to investigate problems in clinical obstetrics, particularly those related to the prevention of low birth weight, prematurity, and medical problems of pregnancy. The most recently established of the Ob/Gyn Networks, the UTMB MFMU will contribute to the design and implementation of future Network studies as well as recruit, assess, and treat subjects in the ongoing clinical research of the Network. George R. Saade, MD, will incorporate his experience from the SCRN to successfully supervise the MFMU.