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Release Date: 07/13/2015

Shibin Cheng, MD, PhD, research scientist at Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island and assistant professor of pediatrics at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University; James F. Padbury, MD, pediatrician-in-chief and chief of Neonatal/Perinatal Medicine at Women & Infants Hospital and the William and Mary Oh-William and Elsa Zopfi Professor of Pediatrics for Perinatal Research at the Alpert Medical School; Akitoshi Nakashima, MD, PhD, a visiting scientist from the University of Toyama, Japan; and Surendra-Sharma, MD, PhD, a research scientist and professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Women & Infants Hospital the Alpert Medical School, won the Best Poster Award for their poster, “Understanding and predicting preeclampsia, an enigmatic pregnancy complication, using Alzheimer’s tools,” at the 35th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Immunology at Queen’s University, Kingston, ON Canada.

The research examined the similarities in the development of preeclampsia, or pregnancy-induced hypertension, and Alzheimer’s disease. The link that is thought to be common between both diseases is protein misfolding and aggregation. When these proteins aggregate and jumble, they form ball-like structures that deposit in the brain in the Alzheimer’s process and in the placenta causing poor placental transfusion in preeclampsia.

“Making a link between the two diseases provides for an opportunity to understand how they develop and how best to treat them going forward,” explained Dr. Sharma.

This work is part of a long-term project in the laboratory of Dr. Sharma at the Kilguss Research Institute of Women & Infants. Work supported by the COBRE in Dr. Sharma’s laboratory has identified novel new insights into the pregnancy disorder, preeclampsia. Dr. Sharma and his colleagues are also working to develop a diagnostic test to confirm that preeclampsia can be identified much earlier in pregnancy. He said, “Identifying preeclampsia earlier will certainly lead to new and better treatments.”

About the American Society for Reproductive Immunology
The American Society for Reproductive Immunology is very diverse and includes clinical and basic scientists in areas such as molecular biology, microbiology, mucosal immunology, genetics, pediatrics, infectious diseases, endocrinology, obstetrics, gynecology, pathology, veterinary medicine and animal science.

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About Women & Infants Hospital

Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island, a Care New England hospital, is one of the nation’s leading specialty hospitals for women and newborns. A major teaching affiliate of The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University for obstetrics, gynecology and newborn pediatrics, as well as a number of specialized programs in women’s medicine, Women & Infants is the 9th largest stand-alone obstetrical service in the country and the largest in New England with approximately 8,500 deliveries per year. A Designated Baby-Friendly® USA hospital, U.S.News & World Report 2014-15 Best Children’s Hospital in Neonatology and a 2014 Leapfrog Top Hospital, in 2009 Women & Infants opened what was at the time the country’s largest, single-family room neonatal intensive care unit.

Women & Infants and Brown offer fellowship programs in gynecologic oncology, maternal-fetal medicine, urogynecology and reconstructive pelvic surgery, neonatal-perinatal medicine, pediatric and perinatal pathology, gynecologic pathology and cytopathology, and reproductive endocrinology and infertility. It is home to the nation’s first mother-baby perinatal psychiatric partial hospital, as well as the nation’s only fellowship program in obstetric medicine.

Women & Infants has been designated as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiography; a Center of Excellence in Minimally Invasive Gynecology; a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence by the National Institutes of Health (NIH); and a Neonatal Resource Services Center of Excellence. It is one of the largest and most prestigious research facilities in high risk and normal obstetrics, gynecology and newborn pediatrics in the nation, and is a member of the National Cancer Institute’s Gynecologic Oncology Group and the Pelvic Floor Disorders Network.
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