Dr. Armstrong's research focus is on pregnancy and its relationship to neonatal brain injury.
Her Center for Women's Health Research seed grant allowed her to study the relationship of inflammation in pregnancy, the placenta and the fetus by targeting a high-risk maternal population: those pregnant women hospitalized for preterm premature rupture of membranes. By studying the role of inflammation and blood clotting in high-risk pregnant women—in combination with placental analysis and newborn outcomes— she believes that we may better understand the mechanism(s) of neonatal brain injury. Primary prevention of neonatal brain injury during pregnancy will decrease neurological disabilities in children and adults and a decrease in lasting neurological disability in children will have a beneficial ripple effect on women, families and society.
Her ultimate goal is to design interventions that can be done in pregnancy to prevent neonatal brain injury. This requires that we can target the population of mothers at highest risk for having a child with brain injury before the injury has developed. Pregnancy is an important window of opportunity for primary prevention of perinatal brain injury and I believe that by preventing brain injury in children, we can also improve the health and well-being of women.
BIRCWH project title: In-Utero Inflammation in Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes (PPROM) as a Biomarker in Perinatal Brain Injury
Current research focus: My BIRCWH project continues in a non-enrolling, longitudinal outcomes arm. Our oldest patients are 8 years old now! We also have an arm studying pregnancies complicated by preeclampsia. I additionally do mixed methods research in quality of life after pediatric and perinatal stroke, as well as imaging studies in perinatal stroke. I am also co-investigator on many transdisciplinary studies of bleeding and clotting disorders, as well as prematurity. Finally, I am a clinical trialist at CPC Clinical Research, where I am involved in endpoint adjudication and pharmacovigilence for large international multi-site trials of peripheral vascular disease, and broadly adult cardiovascular disease.
How Dr. Armstrong-Wells became interested in this work: I have always had an inquisitive mind, and felt that I wanted to help on both a personal level in clinic,as well as a global level with research.
Clinical significance of this research: My research helps inform counseling and prognosis after babies are born preterm, and will hopefully one day help define between screening methods to develop interventions to prevent preterm birth.
Relevance of this work to women's health or sex/gender differences: Pregnancy is inherently women's health, and when it doesn't go as planned may inform us to programming and health risk into later adulthood and older age.