One example of the school’s connectivity is embodied in the Women and Infants’ Health Specimen Consortium, a program led by Kelle H. Moley, MD, co-director of the ICTS and the James P. Crane Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
The consortium was founded in 2007 by Moley and Ann M. Gronowski, PhD, associate professor of pathology and immunology, with the help of an ICTS pilot grant. Investigators from a wide range of specialties are involved, including pediatrics, microbiology, obstetrics and gynecology, pathology, internal medicine and developmental biology.
The purpose of the consortium is to gather tissue samples from women before and during pregnancy, after delivery, and from the newborn. The tissues collected include cord blood, maternal blood, newborn blood, placenta samples and amniotic fluid.
The samples, which are linked to clinical reports of the health of the mother and her baby, are available to investigators interested in a wide array of issues important to women and newborns, from repeated pregnancy loss, pre-term delivery and pre-eclampsia to endometriosis and sexually transmitted diseases. It also may provide insights into the origins of childhood diseases and the communication that goes on between the mother and fetus in utero.
“This resource allows investigators to have access to unique samples that they would not normally be able to get on their own,” Moley says. “We have about 3,000 patients participating in the program and more than 200 patients that we have followed throughout the process — pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, and after delivery.”
Moley co-directs the ICTS in part because her own research sits at the interface of basic research in the laboratory and clinical research that can help patients. An expert in reproductive health, her primary focus has been endocrine disorders in women, such as those related to obesity, diabetes and polycystic ovarian syndrome, and their effects on fertility.
“My work with the ICTS has forced me to think more about how my own research can be applied to improve health care,” Moley says. “My job is also to ask other basic scientists to think about ways that their research can affect human health directly and to encourage them to become involved with the ICTS.”