Physicians at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, led by Dr. Dinesh Shah of the department of obstetrics and gynecology and Dr. Oliver Wieben of the department of medical physics, have been awarded a 4-year $4 million grant to study and develop imaging techniques to identify pregnancy problems at a very early stage.
This grant is a part of the Human Placenta Project, funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The project’s goal is to increase the understanding of the placenta’s structure, function, and development across pregnancy.
The research team will use cutting-edge magnetic resonance imaging techniques to measure early predictors of complications in pregnancies. This project is the first of its kind to study the placenta in real time. This will allow clinicians to visualize diseases or abnormalities of pregnancy at very early stages.
"Previous studies have focused largely on the placenta after delivery, but in order to understand it fully we need to be able to study it while it’s doing its job,” said Shah, professor of obstetrics and gynecology. “Modern imaging makes it possible to study it from outside of the body. Too often damage has already begun by the time a mother with a problematic pregnancy appears in clinic, limiting the health care providers' ability to correct the course of her pregnancy."
"The placenta is a vital link between the mother and baby. A healthy baby starts with a healthy placenta."
In addition to principal investigator Shah, the Ob-Gyn team also includes: Drs. Ian Bird, Thaddeus Golos, and Ronald Magness; the medical physics team includes Drs. Wieben (co-PI), Sean Fain, and Kevin Johnson; and the radiology team includes Drs. Christopher Francois, Diego Hernando, Scott Reeder, and Alejandro Roldan-Alzate.
The clinical studies will be carried out as a collaboration between UW Health’s Ob-Gyn department and Meriter Hospital and Center for Perinatal Care. Imaging techniques will be developed in collaboration with UW Radiology and Medical Physics (working through the MR Research Group). These clinical studies are also supported by the Image Analysis Core (IMAC) Facility at the Wisconsin Institutes for Medical Research (WIMR), and the Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (ICTR).
Find out more about basic science research in the UW Department of Ob-Gyn.