I am a Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and a maternal-fetal medicine specialist. I conduct both basic science/laboratory research, as well as participate in running clinical studies. My laboratory research interests primarily focus on the hormone oxytocin and in understanding the mechanisms of uterine contractility. This work is translated then to the clinical care of women through studies dedicated to understanding normal and abnormal labor. Over the last twenty years, the cesarean delivery rate has risen from 22% to almost 35%. The rising cesarean delivery rate is an epidemic that needs to be solved. National efforts to prevent the primary cesarean delivery have been introduced but have largely been unsuccessful at reducing the cesarean rate. We are hopeful that our research will provide some insight to why some women experience abnormal labor, which increases their risk for cesarean.
Our current work includes a collaboration with Paul Rosenberg, who is a cardiologist and heart failure specialist at Duke University. Dr. Rosenberg has focused on store-operated calcium entry, or how cells handle calcium, which is required for cells to elicit repeated contractions. We have applied his work to the uterus. During labor, the uterus must repeatedly contract for hours. This extensive exercise requires calcium to be continuously available within the uterine muscle cells. Our group has found that some women are not able to adequately replenish their uterine muscle calcium stores, which may explain why some women develop abnormal or dysfunctional labor patterns. We hope to better understand these processes and then develop drug targets that may be used to ultimately improve labor for those women at risk for abnormal labor and cesarean delivery.