Inpatient Research

About the Program

The Perinatology Research Branch conducts inpatient research at Hutzel Women’s Hospital, which has specialized in care of obstetrical patients and newborns since 1868. The unique collaboration between the Perinatology Research Branch and Hutzel Women’s Hospital ensures the best patient care for a diverse population, while supporting the scientific goals of the PRB and advancing knowledge of obstetrical conditions in a state-of-the-art facility.

Patients may be approached to participate in a protocol, or may already be enrolled, when they arrive to the inpatient setting. Research activities include continuous patient surveillance, biological specimen retrieval, comprehensive obstetrical care based on current standards with data collection at all stages of pregnancy, advanced diagnostic and therapeutic interventions using ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging, and high-level care of newborns.

Implementation of research projects occur in an inpatient setting that includes:

  • Seventeen birthing rooms and four dedicated operating rooms
  • Seven high risk antepartum rooms
  • Five room Maternal Special Care Unit, the only dedicated maternal intensive care unit in Michigan
  • Dedicated obstetrical emergency room located on Labor and Delivery
  • Two fetal procedure rooms for antepartum conditions requiring in-utero therapy
  • Twenty-seven bed Neonatal Intensive Care Unit offering immediate advanced care for compromised newborns

The inpatient clinical research operations of the Perinatology Research Branch are supported by a team of obstetric research nurses dedicated to the performance of protocol activities 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In addition to the research nurses, the success of these clinical research operations is achieved in collaboration with an integrated team of clinical faculty members, scientific investigators, Maternal-Fetal Medicine Fellows, research laboratory staff, and fetal magnetic resonance imaging and ultrasound specialists.

Not only are protocols supported by the Perinatology Research Branch conducted on the inpatient units, but there are also opportunities for additional clinical research projects as well. These clinical projects may be conducted in association with current PRB investigations, or they may be performed independently with guidance provided by the PRB faculty. Research projects can occur on any of the inpatient units, and include design, conduct, and data analysis in collaboration with clinical faculty members and research support staff. This multi-disciplinary approach facilitates excellence in research projects leading to scientific publication.

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Clinical Research Operations

Opportunities for clinical research investigation and education, which include the design, conduct, and analysis of data resulting in the publication and dissemination of scientific findings, are provided in collaboration with clinical faculty members and research support staff. These include:

  • Participation in daily Research Rounds including educational presentations and discussions involving current cases, patient management, and a review of pertinent scientific literature
  • Collaboration with clinical specialists and faculty in maternal-fetal medicine, advanced obstetric imaging, fetal MRI, neonatology, cardiology, and critical care pediatrics

The daily clinical-research operations of the Perinatology Research Branch within the Labor and Delivery Unit are conducted by a team of research nurses. Their primary role is to facilitate the goals of the Branch through collaboration with research investigators, Maternal-Fetal Medicine Fellows, clinical personnel, sonographers, and laboratory personnel to operationalize protocols, coordinate special projects, and participate in the continuous advancement of scientific discovery. Their participation involves the following activities:

  • Screen and enroll obstetrical patients for participation in research protocols
  • Provide ongoing surveillance of study participants
  • Capture and document both clinical and research data
  • Perform research procedures as directed by study protocols
  • Collect high-quality biological specimens for immediate processing
  • Coordinate and implement special projects as requested by research investigators
  • Educate clinical staff members about research processes and their role in supporting the mission of the Perinatology Research Branch
  • Support study participants by providing ongoing education about protocol procedures and recognition of their contributions to science

For Research Patients

Study participants are the most valued member of our research team. If you choose to volunteer for one of our protocols, your contributions will enable physician-scientists at the Perinatology Research Branch to better understand disease processes in pregnancy. These disease processes can result in serious obstetric complications such as preterm birth, preeclampsia (pregnancy-related high blood pressure), and problems with fetal growth. With your help, our research nurses and physicians collect the health information and biological samples essential to the discovery and understanding of differences between normal and complicated pregnancies. Your participation will ultimately contribute to the development of prevention strategies and advanced medical treatments designed to improve birth outcomes for both mothers and babies.

Upon your arrival to the labor and delivery unit, you will be approached by one of our experienced research nurses who will describe our voluntary research studies and discuss potential enrollment. If you consent to participation, our on-site research nurses will be available to answer questions and provide 24/7 study support for the duration of your hospital stay. Together, your partnership with our research team provides a unique opportunity to build a promising future for women and children both in our community and throughout the world.

For more information about participation in one of our research protocols, please contact our research nurses at: 313-577-8756.

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Objectives

  • To study the mechanisms of disease of the Great Obstetrical Syndromes (e.g. preterm labor, preeclampsia, preterm prelabor rupture of membranes, fetal growth restriction, fetal death)
  • To study normal and abnormal labor progress and outcomes (e.g. using novel sonographic techniques)
  • To implement research protocols and studies of the PRB (e.g. data collection and review, biological specimen retrieval)
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Research Highlights

  • Showed evidence that antibiotic administration is effective in treating a subset of patients with intra-amniotic infection/inflammation presenting with cervical insufficiency
  • Characterized bacteria and inflammatory cytokine expression in amniotic fluid in cases of chorioamnionitis, preterm labor, and cervical insufficiency
  • Characterized clinical chorioamnionitis at term, which has implications for the diagnosis, management, and understanding of the mechanisms of a leading cause of maternal mortality
  • Discovered a new clinical entity of sterile intra-amniotic inflammation (inflammation in the absence of infection) in which women affected by this have similar rates of preterm birth as those with proven intra-amniotic infection
  • Discovery of placental growth hormone protein in amniotic fluid and the fetal circulation, with implications for fetal growth
  • Identified CXCL-10 as a biomarker for maternal anti-fetal rejection in preterm labor and fetal death
  • Characterized cellular immune responses in the amniotic fluid of women with preterm prelabor rupture of membranes
  • Identified three mRNAs (OSR1, VWF, and HAND1) in chorioamniotic membranes that predict neurocognitive impairment at 18-24 months of age in preterm neonates
  • Characterized the role of adipokines in normal spontaneous labor at term, preeclampsia, small for gestational age neonates, gestational diabetes, pyelonephritis, and spontaneous preterm labor
  • Use of both cervical length and fetal fibronectin improves the prediction of preterm delivery in patients with preterm labor and intact membranes
  • Described the unique cellular microenvironment at the human maternal-fetal interface in spontaneous term and preterm labor
  • Intra-amniotic infection and/or inflammation can lead to the Fetal Inflammatory Response Syndrome (FIRS) and are major mechanisms of disease responsible for perinatal and infant morbidity, including neurologic handicap and cerebral palsy
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Select Publications

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Faculty and Research Staff

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