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International Researchers and Patient Advocates Collaborate to Advance Maternal Health Research in Low Resource Settings

Last Updated on Sunday, October 26, 2014

EMPOWER Program Addresses Leading Global Cause of Maternal and Newborn Death

October 26, 2014 – New Orleans, La. – The International Society for the Study of Hypertension in Pregnancy (ISSHP) and the Preeclampsia Foundation tonight announced a collaborative program at the 2014 ISSHP World Congress to advance research in the field of hypertension in pregnancy.

EMpowering Progress in Obstetric and Women’s hEalth Research (EMPOWER) creates and supports partnerships between seasoned investigators and young investigators in low resource settings to improve research capacity, primarily in the area of high blood pressure in pregnancy. Preeclampsia, the most dangerous form of pregnancy hypertension, is estimated to contribute to at least 120 maternal and 1300 fetal or newborn deaths every day throughout the world, primarily in regions such as the Indian subcontinent, Africa and Latin America. Most of these cases are considered preventable.

“Our focus is on building research operational infrastructure and competency in low resource settings,” said ISSHP President Mark Brown. “As part of our commitment to the program, we are supporting travel and other living expense needs for seasoned investigators to serve as mentors to young, motivated investigators in low-resource settings. This partnership will focus on pilot projects that have the potential to improve health outcomes from preeclampsia in the local population. Secondarily, we want to disseminate those results and advocate for required resources to the broader maternal health community, other funders, professional societies and governments.”
Preeclampsia Foundation Executive Director Eleni Tsigas added, “With ISSHP facilitating the mentorship aspect of EMPOWER, our Foundation is pleased to provide the financial seed money to enable execution of the research. In low-resource countries, developing a research program has the potential to positively impact the broader community, as well as directly impact the clinical care and lessen the threat of preeclampsia to those mothers and babies.”

As the founding sponsors of EMPOWER, the Preeclampsia Foundation and ISSHP are pleased to welcome New Zealand Action on Pre-eclampsia (NZ APEC) as a contributing partner. Additional partners are being invited to contribute financial and in-kind resources.

The first recipient of the EMPOWER grant is principal investigator Dr. Shuchita Mundle who will investigate the ecology of eclampsia in Nagpur, India, where she is an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology, and where the research project is now underway.  The two-year grant provides $10,000 USD per year for 2014 and 2015 and the collaboration with ISSHP will support the ongoing mentorship role by Drs. Gerda Zeeman, Secretary, ISSHP from the Netherlands and Thomas Easterling, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Washington.

EMPOWER is seeking program “champions” to serve as mentors to local investigators, evaluate site feasibility and help refine project proposals. In addition, research sites interested in applying to this program should contact info@preeclampsia.org.

The International Society for the Study of Hypertension in Pregnancy (ISSHP), founded in 1976, aims to stimulate research in the field of hypertension in pregnancy, disseminate the useful results of such research, and advance education in the field. It is recognized by the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) and has ongoing joint initiatives with both these organizations. ISSHP holds biennial World Congresses, rotating between North America, Europe and elsewhere in the world, and produces a quarterly peer-reviewed journal, Pregnancy Hypertension. For more information, visit www.isshp.org.

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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