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2013 Vision Grant Recipients to Study the Underlying Mechanisms of Preeclampsia

Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 April 2014

$25,000 research grants will be presented to two preeclampsia research studies

Melbourne, FL – September 12, 2013 – The Preeclampsia Foundation announced today that Ana Sofia Teixeira de Cerdeira, MD of the Harvard Medical School and Mandy Bell, PhD, RN of the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing are recipients of its 2013 Vision Grants. Vision Grants are awarded to the strongest scientific proposals recommended by the Foundation’s scientific review committee with a further review by a consumer advisory board. The Foundation’s Board of Directors renders the final decision based on those recommendations.

Preeclampsia is a major cause of maternal and fetal pregnancy related disease and death worldwide. Both recipients have the goal of better understanding the underlying mechanisms of the disease and translating their research findings to clinical application.

The Vision Grant Recipients and their Research Proposals

Ana Sofia Teixeira de Cerdeira, MD, is currently a Research Fellow at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Harvard Medical School. Dr. Cerdeira obtained her MD degree and started her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology in Portugal. After receiving a Fellowship from the Gulbenkian Programme for Advanced Medical Education, Dr. Cerdeira moved to the United States to pursue a PhD in the field of Preeclampsia.

Dr. Cerdeira is currently working on the immune mechanisms (NK cells and Tregs) of regulation of placentation in health and preeclampsia. Recent evidence suggests that Natural Killer cells (cells from the immune system) at the maternal-fetal interface (dNK) are important for remodeling placental maternal spiral arteries. This process is compromised in preeclampsia and believed to be the origin of the disease. These placental NK cells are different from the ones in the blood. The purpose of this study is to understand the mechanisms of dNK cell differentiation and convert blood NK cells into dNKs that may have potential applications in the development of novel therapeutic approaches for preeclampsia.

Mandy Bell, PhD, RN, is currently a post-doctoral scholar at Magee-Womens Research Institute in the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing, where she obtained her Nursing and PhD degrees.

Dr. Bell’s study is designed to clarify the role that soluble endoglin (sENG) plays in preeclampsia by investigating if differences in the genetic code of the endoglin gene and related genes account for increased sENG in women with preeclampsia. sENG is a protein that is increased in the blood of most women with preeclampsia. We do not know why it is increased or how it contributes to the disease, even weeks before women become sick. Because vitamin D and oxygen may affect sENG levels, the study will also explore the effects of different vitamin D doses and oxygen levels on sENG in cell culture.

About the Preeclampsia Foundation 

The Preeclampsia Foundation is a U.S.-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization established in 2000. It is dedicated to providing patient support and education, raising public awareness, catalyzing research and improving health care practices, envisioning a world where preeclampsia and related hypertensive disorders of pregnancy no longer threaten the lives of mothers and babies. For more information, visit www.preeclampsia.org.

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