Dr. Lorca investigates how living at high altitude (>8000 ft.) affects fetal and maternal complications of pregnancy. Residence at high altitude increases the frequency of fetal growth retardation and preeclampsia, due, in part, to pregnancy-related alterations in the maternal vasculature. Dr. Lorca’s research aims to understand the mechanisms by which low oxygen availability alters the effects of pregnancy on uterine vessels. Dr. Lorca utilizes very sensitive techniques that allow him to determine how blood vessels constrict and relax, and also to measure small changes in the electrical signals that cells, within these blood vessels, use to control their function. He expects that these studies will improve our understanding of fetal growth retardation and preeclampsia and identify targets for therapeutic or preventive treatments.