Faculty who conduct studies at the Center are on the leading edge of research in maternal, placental, and fetal physiology.
The PRC is supported by nationally competitive grants, largely from the NIH, as well as the Section of Neonatology in the Department of Pediatrics. Other participating research and educational programs include the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Division of Basic Science (Drs. Jansson and Powell) and the Maternal-Fetal Medicine Program (Drs. Hurt and Su), and the Laboratory for Lung Development (Drs. Grayck and Stenmark).
Research at the PRC primarily involves reproductive and developmental physiology, biochemistry, and molecular biology.
Fetal physiology research is conducted in pregnant sheep, an internationally recognized standard model for studying maternal, placental, and fetal physiology. The principal aims of the fetal sheep research are to better understand the processes involved in fetal growth and development and the mechanisms that regulate such growth and development under normal and pathological conditions (Rozance, Brown, Stremming, Wesolowski, Wright).
Additionally, the studies of fetal growth provide a greater understanding of how aberrant fetal growth can lead to poor reproductive outcome (such as intrauterine growth restriction), neonatal disease (such as neonatal hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia, and neonatal respiratory diseases, including bronchopulmonary dysplasia, and persistent pulmonary hypertension), and adult disorders that have their origins during fetal life (such as obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease).
The PRC also includes a small animal (mouse) facility, which currently supports research into the role of inflammation and oxygen toxicity in producing hepatic and pulmonary injury and related disorders such as persistent pulmonary hypertension and bronchopulmonary dysplasia as well us understanding the link between inflammation and metabolism in the perinatal period (Wright, Delaney, Sherlock, Rozance). Small animal models of intrauterine growth restriction are used to determine the mechanisms of the developmental origins of adult disease in formerly growth restricted newborns.