Preterm Labor Research Laboratory (Hurt Lab)

Understanding reproductive physiology and improving the health of women and infants.

Preterm Labor Research Laboratory (Hurt Lab)

Understanding reproductive physiology and improving the health of women and infants.

Welcome to the Preterm Labor Research Laboratory (aka Hurt Lab) located at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Anschutz Medical Campus. We are based in the Division of Reproductive Sciences of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

The goal of the Preterm Labor Research Laboratory (Hurt Lab) is to understand reproductive physiology and apply those findings to improve the health of women and infants.


Our Mission

  • To enhance understanding of normal and abnormal reproductive physiology by pursuing new knowledge.
  • To train and inspire future generations of reproductive physiologists and clinician-scientists, at all stages and levels.
  • To apply basic science to clinical problems to advance women’s health and improve perinatal outcomes.

We are interested in identifying how basic biology influences reproduction, especially the outcomes of pregnancy. One of our primary interests is understanding the role of gasotransmitters in regulating myometrial contractility and parturition timing. We are interested in mechanisms and pathways in the uterus, placenta, and fetus that are altered by acute and chronic nitric oxide and hydrogen sulfide signals. All three classic gasotransmitters (NO, CO, and H2S) are potent uterine tocolytics, and we have used physiologic organ bath pharmacology, calcium imaging, and other approaches to identify their molecular targets and pathways within reproductive tissues. Although we use human tissues occasionally in our studies (myometrial biopsies obtained at the time of cesarean delivery), we are enthusiastic about using transgenic mouse models to dissect the molecular basis of pregnancy physiology. We hope to identify unrecognized pathways to normal labor and fetal development that could be exploited via pharmacologic or nutritional approaches to reduce the chance of preterm labor, the complications of prematurity, and long term disability potentially conferred by abnormal intrauterine development.

At this time, there are three main areas of investigation in our laboratory:

  1. ​The novel signal transduction pathways of H2S in uterine smooth muscle, and how H2S contributes to normal pregnancy growth and delivery timing. We perform both ex vivo pharmacology studies using mouse uterine strips, and recently have developed approaches for small animal ultrasound of uterine blood flow that allow us to assess the influence of H2S on angiogenesis fetal nutrient supply during pregnancy.
  2. The influence of obesity on parturition timing and the role that specific adipokines play in normal and overweight women to suppress or stimulate labor. We are evaluating how adiponectin and its receptors in the uterus change throughout pregnancy and may alter normal birth timing.
  3. Phosphoregulation of neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) using mouse knockin models. We have created new mutant mouse lines in order to determine the importance and role of non-calcium dependent nNOS activity in various tissues and organ systems.

Everyone in our lab works both collegially and with some degree of independence on their own project. We are committed to training future obstetrics and reproductive sciences researchers, and participate in the Integrated Physiology, Biomedical Science, and Medical Scientist Training Programs. We welcome all students, residents, fellows, and others to contact us. Armed with curiosity, rigor, persistence, and passion, any of us can make contributions to advancing biomedical knowledge and improving the lives of mothers and their children.​

Outstanding Reviewer Award, Biology of Reproduction (July 2018) - Dr. Hurt

CTRC Microgrant Award (February 2018) - Dr. Estin

Society for Redox Biology in Medicine Young Investigator Award (December 2017) - Dr. Guerra

Best Poster Award, CU Department of OB-GYN Research Retreat (October 2017) - Dr. Guerra

Ferring Research Innovation Award for 2018 (September 2017) - Hurt Lab

Postdoc Association Travel Award (September 2017) - Dr. Guerra

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Contact Info

Olivia Castillo
Division Administrator
12700 East 19th Avenue
Room 3000D, MS 8613
Aurora, CO 80045

Phone: (303) 724-4144