Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Preterm birth is a significant contributor to neonatal morbidity and remains the leading cause of neonatal mortality. Preterm-related causes of death together accounted for 35% of all infant deaths in 2009, more than any other single cause. In the United States, approximately 12% of all live births are born preterm, and despite research efforts, the incidence of PTB has declined only slightly over the last five years. The extreme cost of PTB resides not only in the immediate neonatal care but also in long-term care of lasting morbidities resulting from prematurity. Currently, the mechanisms leading preterm to preterm birth remain elusive. At this time, inflammation appears to be the primary event leading to preterm birth, but how inflammatory pathways lead to the changes in the pregnant cervix must be identified in order to develop strategies to prevent this enormous health care problem.
Presently, my lab is focused on inflammatory pathways in the cervix leading to preterm cervical remodeling, an obligatory step in preterm birth. Previously, we have shown how inflammation leads a breakdown of the cervical epithelial barrier, which may be the initial step in preterm cervical remodeling. We are now exploring the mechanisms of the functional changes in cervical epithelial cells, with our long term goal of identifying pathways in order to develop novel therapies leading to a decrease in the spontaneous preterm birth rate. In addition, we also study the inflammatory pathways of amniotic fluid cells. Our data has shown these cells release cytokines in response to an inflammatory challenge, and our focus is to further clarify how these cytokines lead to cervical remodeling and ultimately preterm birth.
Current Collaborations and Group Projects
Currently, I am collaborating with Christine Trapp, M.D., in the department of endocrinology and Michelle Cloutier, M.D., and Jessica Hollenbach, Ph.D., in the department of pulmonology at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. Our goal is to establish a pregnancy cohort analyzing acute stress and how this may impact adverse pregnancy outcomes as well as obesity and asthma rates in their children.
Opportunities for Students
In the past, undergraduate students, medical students, and OB/GYN residents have worked in our lab. Please email Christopher Nold at firstname.lastname@example.org if interested.