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2007 Vision Grants Go to Researchers at Northwestern University and University of Pittsburgh

Last Updated on Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Preeclampsia Foundation announced today that Dr. Francesca Facco of Northwestern University and Dr. Frauke von Versen-Höynck are the recipients of its 2007 Vision Grants. These prestigious awards will be presented to Dr. Facco and Dr. von Versen-Höynck at the Foundation’s annual benefit gala, "Saving Grace: A Night of Hope" on Saturday, October 27th at the Omni Parker House Hotel in Boston, MA. “The award is designed to support promising research as well as encourage outstanding young researchers,” said J. Thomas Viall, the Foundation’s Executive Director, “it is critical that we use these grants to inspire young talent; these grants can lead to a lifetime of science that is dedicated to preeclampsia research.”

The grant submissions undergo a robust peer review process. Dr. Thomas R. Easterling, Professor of Maternal Fetal Medicine at the University of Washington and Chair of the Foundation’s Medical Board stated, “The Board, in collaboration with the North American Society for the Study of Hypertension in Pregnancy, were pleased to recommend funding of two grants which were deemed the best of the 21 applications submitted to the Foundation. We hope that by funding young investigators and novel ideas we will advance the careers of investigators and encourage them to continue to improve the care of women affected by preeclampsia.” He continued, “Dr. Facco’s proposal hypothesizes that pregnant women with significant sleep-disordered breathing may be at greater risk of preeclampsia.” Dr. Facco added, “The overall goal of the proposal is to evaluate the relationship between the two phenomena and I am thrilled that the Foundation’s support will enable me to investigate this proposition more thoroughly.” Dr. von Versen-Höynck’s research addresses the critical issue of sub-optimal fetal growth, which is too often a complication of preeclampsia. Dr. von Versen-Höynck said, “I want to study how we might improve the flow of placental nutrition in these cases; I am so grateful to the Preeclampsia Foundation for these Vision Grants, they will make difference.

About the Vision Grant Award Recipients:

Dr. Francesca Facco is currently a second year maternal-fetal medicine fellow at Northwestern University. As part of her fellowship training she is enrolled in the Masters Degree Program in Clinical Investigation at Northwestern University. She attended Georgetown University for both college and medical school. She completed her residency training in obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University in 2008, and was chosen to serve as Chief Administrative Resident. Dr. Facco has been involved in several research projects, with a special interest in sleep disorders in pregnancy and their association with adverse pregnancy outcomes.

Dr. Frauke von Versen-Höynck is a physician with specialization in the field of maternal-fetal medicine. She completed her medical training in Germany, and started a postdoctoral fellowship at Magee Womens Research Institute at the University of Pittsburgh in late 2005. Her research focus has been centered on understanding conditions and agents that influence amino acid transport in the placenta, and in differences in amino acid transport in different pregnancy outcomes. Her current research project will focus on the role of the hypoxia-inducible factor adenosine in placental amino acid transport.


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    The Preeclampsia Registry is a "Living Database" bringing together those affected, their family members, and researchers to advance knowledge and discover preventions and treatments for preeclampsia, HELLP syndrome, and related hypertensive disorders of pregnancy.

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