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Research Projects

Faculty in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology conduct research in diverse areas of basic reproductive research:

Catherine Bradley, MD, MSc

Catherine Bradley, M.D., M.S.C.E., is a Professor in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine with secondary appointments as Professor in Urology (College of Medicine) and Epidemiology (College of Public Health). She is Division Director of Urogynecology and Reconstructive Pelvic Surgery and a clinical and epidemiologic researcher in female pelvic floor disorders. Her research interests focus on diagnostic and outcome measures for urinary incontinence in women and on risk factors and symptoms associated with urinary incontinence and other pelvic floor disorders. Her research, including clinical trials, cohort studies, database analyses and collaborative research network protocols, has been funded by the VA and NIH.

Donghai Dai, MD, PhD

My research revolves around developing novel prognostic indicators for gynecologic cancers through bioinformatic/cell biology integration. This incorporates genome sequencing and tumor evolutionary history to predict clinical outcomes.

Eric Devor, PhD

Research is focused on the role of the protein Placenta-specific Protein 1 (PLAC1) in both normal and pathologic phenomena spanning the range of Obstetrics and Gynecology from the development and maintenance of a healthy placenta to preeclampsia to gynecologic cancers. PLAC1 is normally expressed only in the placenta. Current projects have shown 1) that the PLAC1gene emerged in the genome of the earliest placental mammals 165 million years ago and has remained essentially unchanged since, 2) that PLAC1 expression is significantly lower in the placentas of women who develop preeclampsia than in the placentas of women who do not and that this difference is influenced by a hypoxia-mediated mechanism, 3) that PLAC1 is turned on in gynecologic cancers, is an indicator of poor outcomes and is significantly influenced by p53 mutation status.

Abey Eapen, MBBS DRCOG, PhD

My research interests are in the clinical and therapeutic aspects relating to recurrent pregnancy losses and recurrent implantation failure (within IVF treatment setting). I have had a broad experience of conducting multiple, large, multicenter randomized controlled studies and also engage in systematic review of literature.

The lead project that I am involved is in designing a prevalence study for early detection of trigger factors relating to infertility and recurrent miscarriage. I am also leading projects on retrospective analysis of large datasets obtained through SARTCORS. Our SARTCORS projects include:

a. Analysis of the influence of length of ovarian stimulation and the reproductive outcomes following IVF treatment.
b. Analysis of the influence of maternal BMI and the reproductive outcomes following IVF treatment.
c. Analysis on the year by year trend of miscarriage in women undergoing IVF treatment in the United States.

Jesus Gonzalez Bosquet, MD, PhD

Mechanisms involved in genome organization and gene regulation, including insulators and nuclear lamina function. Insulators are a specialized class of DNA regulatory elements that have a conserved role in chromosome organization, dividing chromosomes into independent functional domains. Regulatory contributions of the nuclear lamina, protein meshwork underneath the nuclear envelope (NE) that contributes to chromosome organization and gene regulation. 

Michael Goodheart, MD

The role of Lef-1 in endometrial gland formation and cancer. Angiogenic markers in ovarian cancer

Emily Hill, MD

I am interested in cancer survivorship and quality of life, as well as cancer treatments and side effects in the elderly. Additionally, my research has focused on physician wellness/burnout and gender differences in academic advancement in medicine.

Stephen K. Hunter, MD, PhD

Non-dietary treatment of mPKU; the vaccine development against GBS; the mechanism and potential treatment of pre-eclampsia.

Susan Lutgendorf, PhD

Dr. Susan Lutgendorf investigates how behavioral stress is related to tumor growth in ovarian cancer patients. Her most recent grant from the National Cancer Institute investigates the relationship of stress to chemoresistance in ovarian cancer. She also studies resilience in cancer patients and is currently developing a web-based wellness intervention for ovarian cancer patients, funded by the National Cancer Institute. For more information see: https://psychology.uiowa.edu/lutgendorf-lab/research/biobehavioral-oncology

Abbey Merryman, MD

Women's Global Health topics.

Donna Santillan, PhD

We perform clinical and translational studies centered on understanding the genetic and proteomic controls over pregnancy and how these are altered in abnormal pregnancies. We currently have projects studying preterm birth, Group B Streptococci, preeclampsia, intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy, and phenylketonuria. Additionally, I oversee the Women’s Health Tissue Repository which includes the Maternal Fetal Tissue Bank, Paternal Contributions to Children’s Health, Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility Tissue Bank, and the Well Women Bank. This biorepository includes well annotated samples with corresponding clinical information and significantly increases our capacity to move our research between bench and bedside.

Mark Santillan, MD, PhD

Investigating the role of immunology in the pathogenesis of preeclampsia, determining molecular mechanisms of vascular function changes in mice and humans throughout pregnancy, development of a prospectively collected Maternal Fetal Tissue Bank and Clinical Database.

Amy Sparks, PhD 

Gamete biology; in vitro fertilization; embryo culture; and gamete/embryo cryopreservation

Colleen Kennedy Stockdale, MD, MS

Vulvar and lower genital tract disease.

Bradley Van Voorhis, MD

I am doing research on infertility treatments including In Vitro Fertilization. We are interested in improving the safety and pregnancy rates from these treatments as well as studying the long-term outcomes of the children born from these treatments.