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ISSHP World Congress Attracts Best and Brightest Researchers

Created on Tuesday, November 11, 2014

ISSHP World Congress Attracts Best and Brightest Researchers  

Almost 500 delegates from 36 countries convened in New Orleans late last month for the bi-ennial meeting of the International Society for the Study of Hypertension in Pregnancy (ISSHP). The world's best and brightest researchers in preeclampsia and related hypertensive disorders of pregnancy brought their latest findings and hot topics for discussion. But we also had some fun!
The Preeclampsia Foundation's executive director, Eleni Tsigas, and research coordinator, Alina Brewer, were heavily involved. We collaborated closely with ISSHP leaders to expand research capacity in low and middle income countries, awarded three travel grants to promising young investigators, showcased The Preeclampsia Registry [link] as a valuable resource for investigators, and demonstrated results from two Foundation-sponsored research studies during Poster sessions. Dr. Mahesh Jariwala, who received one of the travel grants, graciously donated his $1,000 award to benefit preeclampsia survivors in his homeland, India. Check out the Twitter handle #isshp14 for photos and brief takeaways from Tsigas and others at the meeting. 
Dr. Kyu-Ho Lee (r), member of The Preeclampsia Registry's Scientific Advisory Council, discusses findings highlighted on our poster presentation at ISSHP with Research Coordinator Alina Brewer (l) and Executive Director Eleni Tsigas (c).
 
"Investing in research is an investment in the clinical care that expectant mothers receive," explained Tsigas. The Hawthorne Effectmeans that patients often have better outcomes when they're in a research environment, even if they are not receiving special care as part of a study. Thus, building out the research capacities in settings where the maternal and infant death rate is the highest will not only contribute to our scientific knowledge, but improve outcomes in those settings. 

The EMPOWER program, announced at the opening ceremony, hopes to do just that.

Revolutionary Science?

 

One of the most talked about plenaries showcased "Novel therapies for preeclampsia." While none are ready for clinical use today, many studies showed promise for helping women diagnosed with preeclampsia delay delivery of their premature baby, reversing or slowing down preeclampsia's damaging effects. Biologics and recombinant treatments are advancing into Phase III clinical trials and may become available within the next two to three years.
High Blood Pressure Management in Preeclampsia
High Blood Pressure Management in Preeclampsia
Attendees got a sneak peak at the results of the CHIPS Trial a five year study to evaluate the effectiveness and potential harms - on both mother and baby - of controlling blood pressure during pregnancy. The final paper will be published in the coming month, but lead investigator Dr. Laura Magee explains in this interview why these results should inform how we manage preeclampsia and other forms of high blood pressure in pregnancy today.

Dr. Kent Thornburg, a leading thinker about fetal origins of disease, presented a compelling theory about why the 100 year effect and 1000 day effect can contribute to the programming of our adult diseases. But according to Dr. Thornburg, even with a less than optimal beginning, there's still something we can do to enjoy healthy lives.

Expectations readers may recall answering survey questions two years ago about their views on preeclampsia diagnosis, screening/prediction and clinical trials. After careful data analysis with our scientific collaborators, we reported some of those results in a poster at the ISSHP meeting. The feedback we received from our poster presentations helped us identify areas for improvement and encouraged us to seek publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Scientists we spoke with acknowledged a significant void in patient perspectives needed in research and clinical priority-setting.

Some Meaningful Fun, Too
At the opening ceremony, ISSHP President Mark Brown (Australia), who had to take the reins when President Andrea Tranquilli (Italy) died unexpectedly in January 2014, paid tribute to the man we called "a patient's advocate". The crowd engaged in a traditional New Orleans Second Line - local musicians led us in a dirge followed by a joyful celebration of Tranquilli's life. 

The next World Congress will be in Sao Paulo, Brazil in October 2016. The Preeclampsia Foundation will be there, pushing forward awareness, education, scientific investment and clinical improvements on a continent where preeclampsia is the #1 killer of pregnant mothers. If you would like to support our global agenda, please let us know here.

The Preeclampsia Registry

    preeclampsia registry

    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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