May 04, 2011
Dr. Unzila Ali-Nayeri, Maternal Fetal Medicine Fellow and Instructor of the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at Yale University School of Medicine, was recently awarded a Yale Global Health Initiative Faculty Travel Award. She traveled to South Africa with Drs. Irina and Catalin Buhimschi, Associate Professors of the same department, to expand a research project funded by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenge Exploration (GCE). Their lab has developed a new diagnostic modality for preeclampsia, a disease of pregnancy characterized by high blood pressure and proteinuria. Preeclampsia is a leading cause of maternal morbidity and mortality with most of the maternal deaths occurring in the developing world. The inability to promptly diagnose women with preeclampsia and to appropriately refer and transport to a higher level of care represent part of the problem. During their trip, and in collaboration with the South African Medical Research Council Maternal and Infant Health Care Strategies Research Unit directed by Professor Robert Pattinson of the University of Pretoria, the Yale team explored the possibility of developing an effective model for testing, implementing, and optimizing the new diagnostic test. The group visited multiple health care settings from academic centers to rural clinics with the goal of understanding the logistics and daily challenges of medical care for pregnant women in South Africa. Through collaborating with South African medical care providers, trainees, and researchers, the team plans to modify several features of the test so that it can be performed in a more efficient manner with minimal training. Future aims involve widespread implementation of the diagnostic test to ultimately reduce preeclampsia-related adverse outcomes in women of all developing countries.