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David M. Aronoff, MD

David M. Aronoff, MD
Associate Professor
Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases
MD - Tufts University

My research focuses on reproductive immunology, with a specific interest in infections that complicate pregnancy. We are interested in defining the molecular mechanisms of disease pathogenesis involved in bacterial chorioamnionitis, a major cause of preterm birth and stillbirth. We are also studying the contribution of innate immunity to placental pathology in the setting of gestational diabetes.

We value trans-disciplinary research. We are involved in cross-cutting team science projects that are helping to define new biomarkers for pregnancy-associated disorders and identify novel targets for intervention. We are also working with biomedical engineers to create new models of human gestational tissue biology.

MyBibliology

 

Carolyn Audet, PhD

Carolyn M. Audet, PhD
Assistant Professor
Health Policy
PhD - Vanderbilt University 

My research focuses on the effect of traditional health practitioners on health outcomes among people living with HIV in southern Africa. I am especially interested in engaging traditional healers and traditional birth attendants as change agents to improve maternal health outcomes, under-five mortality, and adherence to antiretroviral medications among adults.  

I design community-based interventions using survey data, interviews, focus groups and theater role-playing of prospective programs. In collaboration with PEPFAR-supported programs, I help establish culturally-acceptable health care practices. I have recently become interested in the health impacts faced by traditional practitioners, specifically the possibility of infectious disease transmission (HIV, HCV, TB) during community-based treatment.  

MyBibliography

    

Gerasimos Bastas, MD, PhD

Gerasimos Bastas, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
MD - Boston University
PhD - Boston University

My research focuses on the clinical evaluation of walking ability, as enabled by prosthetic devices, following major lower limb loss. I am especially interested in gender-based biomechanical differences in the walking function of people with lower limb amputations.

I acquire and analyze objective metrics (kinetics and kinematics) during walking trials of lower limb amputatees in ambulatory settings. By studying people with varying walking ability, level of limb loss and device composition, we can identify enabling features and limitations of current prosthetic technologies, informing future prosthetic design iterations.

BIRCWH scholar

MyBibliography

 

Kaylon L. Bruner-Tran, PhD

Kaylon L. Bruner-Tran, PhD
Associate Professor
Obstetrics & Gynecology
PhD - Vanderbilt University

Studies my laboratory are focused on understanding the impact of early life toxicant exposures on maintenance of pregnancy, with a particular emphasis on mechanisms leading to preterm birth. Our group was the first to demonstrate that the toxicant exposure history of the father can adversely affect maintenance of pregnancy in his partner. Current studies are attempting to identify toxicant-associated epigenetic events which may be responsible for the paternal-derived risk of preterm birth. Additional studies are examining the effectiveness of nutritional modification to reduce the incidence of reproductive failure following early life toxicant exposure.

Although our experimental studies involving toxicant exposure rely on mouse models, we also use human samples (semen, placenta, endometrium) to translate the murine studies to the human condition. In addition to functional observations in mice, analyses of murine and human samples include examination of protein/gene expression, epigenetic alterations and histologic assessment. In concert with Dr. Kevin Osteen, we are currently establishing an organ on a chip model of early pregnancy using murine blastocysts and primary human endometrial cells.

MyBibliography

 

Kate Clouse, PhD

Kate Clouse, PhD
Assistant Professor
Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases
PhD - University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

My research focuses on the implementation science related to HIV and TB treatment and care in South Africa. In particular, I am interested in exploring retention in care to understand how and why individuals drop out of HIV care.

I conduct operational research with primary care clinics in South Africa. A specific focus of my current work is exploring why pregnant women who initiate ART during pregnancy are at high risk of dropping out of HIV care. 

MyBibliography

 

 Katherine Hartmann

Katherine E. Hartmann, MD, PhD
Professor
Obstetrics & Gynecology and Medicine
MD – John Hopkins University
PhD – University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

I am an obstetrician gynecologist, reproductive epidemiologist, and data wonk. My work focuses on helping ensure that women and their care providers have information they need to make well-informed and confident decisions about their health and health care. Our group is invested in critical analysis of what the scientific literature does and does not tell us about benefits and harms of behavior change strategies, alternative medical therapies, diet and nutrition programs, medications, medical procedures and surgeries. Our team’s work in systematic reviews has consistently addressed tough topics and has included documenting harms of episiotomy, the limitations of data about outcomes of fetal surgery, inconsistencies in results of programs designed to reduce use of cesarean, and the marginal effectiveness of medications for overactive bladder.

Our Right From the Start research portfolio includes findings that suggest disparities in adverse pregnancy outcomes begin as early as conception, multivitamin use around the time of conception prevents some miscarriages, over-the-counter use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents is not a probable cause of miscarriage (and may be protective in some women), and the vast majority of uterine fibroids are not associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes including miscarriage and preterm birth, though fibroids are related to a moderately higher likelihood of cesarean. Ongoing projects include studies of gene-environment interactions and adverse pregnancy outcomes, as well as informed medical decision making demonstration projects in Medicaid maternity populations and within HealthWise, the nation’s largest source of health information distributed through healthcare networks.

Timothy J. Hohman, PhD

Timothy J. Hohman, PhD
Assistant Professor
Neurology
PhD - American University

My research focuses on genetic resilience to Alzheimer’s disease. I am particularly interested in how certain “asymptomatic” individuals are able to endure the presence of Alzheimer’s neuropathology without marked clinical impairment.

My research leverages advanced computational approaches from genomics, proteomics, and neuroimaging to identify novel markers of Alzheimer’s disease risk and resilience. I have active collaborations with the Alzheimer’s Disease Genetics Consortium, and work with multiple large epidemiological datasets from around the country.

BIRCWH scholar

MyBibliography

 

Cathy Ivory, PhD

Catherine H. (Cathy) Ivory, PhD, RN
Assistant Professor
Nursing and Biomedical Informatics
PhD - Vanderbilt University

My research focuses on processes and outcomes related to normal physiologic birth. I am particularly interested in nursing’s contributions to normal physiologic birth and how electronic nursing documentation can increase the visibility and demonstrate the value of nursing care to birth outcomes.

I seek projects that include opportunities to structure electronic nursing documentation to broadly illustrate nursing interventions and corresponding outcomes for women giving birth. I’m also involved in several national collaborative projects with physician and midwifery colleagues, working to standardize maternity care data with the use of consensus methods. Finally, I am exploring both nurses’ perceptions of childbirth risk and improving the accuracy of birth certificate data.

MyBibliography

 

Julia Phillippi, PhD

Julia C. Phillippi, PhD, CNM
Assistant Professor
Nursing
PhD - University of Tennessee, Knoxville

My research focuses on clinical environments that facilitate women’s access to prenatal care. I am especially interested in interdisciplinary clinical care for vulnerable women. Originally trained as a nurse-midwife and a qualitative researcher, I use mixed methods to study women’s access to and perception of prenatal care.

MyBibliography

 

Bradley Richmond

Bradley W. Richmond, MD
Instructor
Medicine, Division of Allergy, Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine
MD - University of Louisville

Secretory immunoglobulin A (SIgA) deficiency in small airways has been linked to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) progression. Broadly, my research seeks to understand the factors that determine secretory immunoglobulin A (SIgA) levels in the lung and how localized SIgA deficiency contributes to COPD progression. Women have a higher prevalence of COPD than men for the same level of tobacco smoking. My research uses patient samples as well as in vitro and in vivo modeling systems to determine whether gender influences SIgA levels in the lung. A current focus is on how sex hormones regulate the polymeric immunoglobulin receptor (pIgR), a key protein involved in SIgA transport across airway epithelial cells.

BIRCWH scholar

MyBibliography

 

Xiao Ou Shu

Xiao Ou Shu, MD, PhD
Professor
Medicine, Division of Epidemiology
MD - Shanghai Medical University
PhD - Columbia University

My research over the past 30 years has focused on applying a multi-disciplinary approach to investigating the contribution of the environment, lifestyle factors, and host susceptibility on the etiology and prognosis of cancer, including breast cancer, and other chronic diseases. I have been consistently funded by NIH since 1996, serving as the principal investigator (PI) for 8 major research grants (R01/UM1/contracts), 2 training grants, multiple sub-contracts/projects, and as a key co-investigator for many other NIH grants.

I have published over 680 papers, many in highly-acclaimed journals, on research involving a wide range of exposures, such as dietary intake, energy balance, physical activity, occupation, and early life exposures, and covering a large disease spectrum, including cancer, coronary heart disease, and diabetes.

Pivotal papers in women’s health and cancer include findings that soy food consumption does not increase risk of breast cancer recurrence and indeed is associated with greater longevity, that higher calcium intake mitigates risk of breast cancer among female non-smokers, and that regular tea drinking decreases risk of colorectal cancer among women. 

MyBibliography

 

Stephanie Sohl, PhD

Stephanie J. Sohl, Ph.D
Assistant Professor
Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine & Public Health
PhD - Stony Brook University

My behavioral research focuses on cancer survivorship and integrative medicine. Specifically, I aim to strengthen the evidence base of complementary health approaches (e.g., mind-body practices, integrative health coaching) that may provide people with cancer options for achieving optimal health.

I adapt complementary health approaches that may be efficacious so they can be integrated into and potentially enhance conventional care. For example, my Mentored Research Scientist Development Award (K01) supports an investigation of a brief yoga intervention targeted to reduce fatigue that is taught in the clinical setting during chemotherapy for colorectal cancer. I also seek to understand how mind-body practices may strengthen the ability of healthcare providers to empower and support patients’ self-management behaviors.

Former BIRCWH scholar

MyBibliography

 

Alex Sunderman

Alexandra Sundermann
MD/PhD Student
Medicine, Division of Epidemiology
BA - Baylor University

My research interest is in reproductive epidemiology, specifically how exposures early in gestation impact fetal development and pregnancy outcome. Currently, I am working with data from Right From the Start, a large cohort study which enrolled women before conception or during early in gestation and followed them throughout pregnancy with the aim of understanding determinants of fecundability and adverse pregnancy outcomes. My ongoing projects include a methods validation study that assesses quality of maternal recall concerning early pregnancy medication exposures and a study evaluating how morphology observed on first trimester ultrasound modifies the relationship between caffeine exposure and spontaneous abortion.

Digna Velez Edwards, PhD

Digna R. Velez Edwards, PhD
Assistant Professor
Obstetrics and Gynecology
PhD - Vanderbilt University

 My research program focuses on better understand the genetic mechanisms underlying women’s reproductive and gynecologic health complications. A secondary theme of my work has been to disentangle the role of race and ancestry in the risk for complex diseases.

 Several of my ongoing research projects utilize large clinical databases that link clinical information to DNA. These studies focus on understanding the racial and/or ethnic disparities in genetic risk for several complex diseases including preterm birth, miscarriage, uterine fibroids, and pelvic organ prolapse. I have also established a DNA biorepository from the Right from the Start Pregnancy cohort to evaluating the role of gene and environment interactions on risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes. 

Former BIRCWH scholar

MyBibliography