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OU Health Establishes Center for Pregnancy and Newborn Health

OU Health Establishes Center for Pregnancy and Newborn Health

A ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house marked the official opening of the new OU Health Center for Pregnancy and Newborn Health (CPNH). The center, located in the University of Oklahoma Research Park on the OU Health Sciences Center campus, represents an expansive collaboration among physicians and scientists working for improved health outcomes for mothers and their babies.

The center is co-directed by Peter Vitiello, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Director of Laboratory Research for the OU College of Medicine Department of Pediatrics Section of Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine; and Dean Myers, Ph.D., Professor and Vice Chair for Basic Research, OU College of Medicine Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Associate Vice President for Health Sciences Research. Myers also holds the John W. Records Chair in Maternal-Fetal Medicine, and is Director of Research of the OU College of Medicine Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Maternal-Fetal Medicine Fellowship program.

This new effort harnesses the resources of more than 60 physician-scientists, basic scientists, clinical and laboratory research staff and trainees, representing an extensive collaboration among OU College of Medicine faculty members in the Departments of Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Surgery and Internal Medicine, as well as the Harold Hamm Diabetes Center and Oklahoma Nathan Shock Aging Center.

Rodney Edwards, M.D., M.S., Professor and Chief of the Section of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, and Presbyterian Health Foundation Endowed Chair in Perinatal Research, said the collaborative endeavor is remarkable in its scope, encompassing OU Health Sciences Center entities as well as Oklahoma Children’s Hospital. “We believe that CPNH will not only increase collaboration among basic scientists in our various disciplines but also between basic, translational and clinical scientists. Doing so will facilitate not only discovery but translation of discoveries into improvements in clinical care.”

Trent Tipple, M.D., FAAP, Oklahoma Children’s Hospital OU Health Chief of Neonatology, and Reba McEntire Endowed Chair in Neonatology, said greater understanding of these factors will create new pathways to improve health outcomes with multi-generational impact. “As these fields of expertise overlap, we can accelerate development of therapeutic options and focus on disease prevention in the earliest stages of life. Our mission is to ensure healthy early development; this is the best way to promote optimal health as infants grow through childhood and adolescence to become healthy adults who can achieve their best, life-long potential.”

Vitiello said ongoing work by CPNH faculty members will explore specific medical complications of pregnancy and prematurity. “Our work will strongly focus on two critical areas - the origin and progression of respiratory, intestinal, retinal and cardiac diseases in premature babies, and the impact of maternal and perinatal nutrition on newborn growth development. These factors greatly influence the course of health outcomes.”

The primary CPNH laboratory site at 800 Research Parkway boasts 5,000 square feet of dedicated laboratory and office space. Research is further supported by ready access to other new technologically advanced resources, including:

  • Human milk analyzer in the Oklahoma Children’s Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, part of the Quincy Le Norman Nutrition Center, to track nutritional content
  • Biorepository where clinical samples from infants born prematurely can be collected, processed, stored, and accessed for ongoing and future studies
  • Metabolomics core to quantify molecular content from biological samples

Myers said, “Foresight, vision, and opportunity have brought us to the right time and place for this new initiative. With a solid foundation of world-class resources and depth of expertise in multiple fields, the Center for Pregnancy and Newborn Health creates myriad opportunities for success that will improve lives for generations to come.”