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UT Southwestern ob/gyn researchers studying genetic factors in premature births
Date:3/24/2014

DALLAS March 24, 2014 Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center received grants totaling $600,000 from the March of Dimes Foundation to advance their work in the prevention of premature birth, which affects about one out of nine babies born annually in the U.S. and is the leading cause of newborn death.

Among just five researchers in the U.S. and Canada selected for their work were Dr. Carole R. Mendelson, Professor of Biochemistry and of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Director of the North Texas March of Dimes Birth Defects Center, and Dr. Mala Mahendroo, Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Dr. Mendelson is identifying proteins and lipids produced by the maturing fetal lungs that enhance contractility of the mother's uterus and signal that the baby is ready to be born. A previous study from her laboratory found that the major lung surfactant protein, surfactant protein-A, acts as a hormonal signal for labor. Ongoing studies funded by the March of Dimes grant explore the regulation and roles of unique surfactant lipids as signals for the initiation of labor.

"The March of Dimes Foundation has been an amazing supporter of research on preterm birth and birth defects. This has been incredibly important at a time when National Institutes of Health funding of basic research in female reproductive biology has been declining," said Dr. Mendelson, who chairs the Reproductive Scientist Development Program Selection Committee for the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, part of the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Mahendroo is working to understand cervical changes and how they trigger labor. She is working to identify key steps in normal cervical ripening, as well as distinct molecular pathways that drive infection-mediated cervical ripening.

"Because cervical changes precede the onset of preterm birth, a better understanding of the diverse pathways that achieve cervical remodelin
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Contact: Russell Rian
russell.rian@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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