Yale Joins NIH Research Network Aimed at Improving Maternal-Fetal Health

Tuesday, April 30, 2019
High-impact research that makes its way into clinical practice is made possible thanks to large-scale multicenter clinical trials. In obstetrics, much of this research is conducted through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units (MFMU) Network. Yale School of Medicine (YSM), in collaboration with Yale New Haven Hospital (YNHH), has joined the MFMU Network, which supports clinical research to improve the health of mothers and infants.

MFMU was established in 1986 by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) to conduct clinical trials in such areas as reducing rates of preterm birth, fetal growth abnormalities, newborn morbidity, and maternal complications of pregnancy. MFMU trials have resulted in such practice-changing advances as the use of late-term steroids to reduce the risk of respiratory problems in newborns and the finding that induction of labor at 39 weeks leads to similar or better outcomes compared to expectant management.

“Yale New Haven Hospital has become nationally known for high-quality clinical care,” says MFMU subsite Principal Investigator (PI) Christian Pettker, MD, associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at YSM and chief of obstetrics at YNHH, who works with MFMU Site Coordinator Jessica Leventhal. “Joining MFMU puts us at the forefront of obstetrics research that has the potential to lead to better pregnancy outcomes and healthier newborns.” Currently the research focus of the MFMU is addressing two of the most important problems in maternal-fetal medicine: preterm birth and obstetric hemorrhage.

Yale is a satellite site of Brown PI Dwight Rouse, MD, with support from Research Coordinator Donna Allard. Nationwide there are 165,000 deliveries in the MFMU of which Yale New Haven Hospital will contribute 6,000 deliveries per year.

“We are committed to compassionate, outstanding care for mothers and babies and we are very excited to be part of the groundbreaking work being accomplished through this national collaborative,” said Cynthia Sparer, SVP, operations, YNHH and executive director, Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital.

MFMU Network research will draw upon the expertise of many faculty members and staff at Yale School of Medicine and Yale New Haven Hospital. The School of Medicine’s Yale Center for Clinical Investigation (YCCI) has a firmly established research structure for conducting high-quality, well-monitored, community-based research. Supported by an NIH Clinical and Translational Science Award, YCCI will provide such services as quality control, IT, and minority subject recruitment support through its Cultural Ambassadors program. YNHH’s state-of-the-art labor and birth facilities, NICU, and research pharmacy will also play an important role.

“Participating in the leading pregnancy research network in the world speaks to the strong collaboration between the School of Medicine and Yale New Haven Hospital and our joint commitment to providing the best possible care for our patients,” says YCCI Co-Director Brian R. Smith, MD, who is also deputy dean for scientific affairs (clinical departments) at YSM.

“I’m excited that Dr. Pettker and his research staff will be performing cutting-edge clinical research at Yale to improve the health of mothers and babies as part of the MFMU Network,” says Uma Reddy, MD, MPH, professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences and division director of maternal-fetal medicine at YSM.

Yale New Haven Hospital is a nationally recognized, 1,541-bed, not-for-profit hospital serving as the primary teaching hospital for the Yale School of Medicine. Yale New Haven was founded as the fourth voluntary hospital in the U.S. in 1826. Today, the hospital's two New Haven-based inpatient campuses include Yale New Haven Children's Hospital, Yale New Haven Psychiatric Hospital and Smilow Cancer Hospital. YNHH has a combined medical staff of about 4,500 university and community physicians practicing in more than 100 specialties. YNHH's York Street campus and associated ambulatory sites are Magnet-designated by the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

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