NICHD Health Equity Seminar Series: Toward Understanding the Pathobiology of Preeclampsia and the Underlying Mechanism of Vitamin D Involvement—Unpacking the Placental, Immune, and Demographic Components

September 4, 2014, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.


Office of Health Equity (OHE), Office of the Director (OD), and Pregnancy and Perinatology Branch, Division of Extramural Research, NICHD


Balcony C, Natcher Conference Center (Building 45), NIH Main Campus, Bethesda, Maryland


The NICHD Health Equity Seminar Series is a forum for raising awareness of populations at risk for disparate outcomes in maternal and child health and for exploring directions for future research aimed at reducing health disparities in NICHD mission areas through evidence-based prevention and intervention strategies. 

The focus on preeclampsia is in recognition of September as Infant Mortality Awareness Month.  Preeclampsia is a leading contributor to maternal and fetal/neonatal morbidity and mortality. 

Pathophysiologically characterized by reduced utero-placental blood flow and maternal hypertension, preeclampsia occurs in 5% to 10% of all pregnancies. Risk factors include obesity, diabetes, chronic infections, and vitamin D deficiency, all of which cluster disproportionately in racial/ethnic minority populations. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with a fivefold increased risk for developing preeclampsia ; and, in the United States, about 29% of black women and 5% of white women residing in the Northeast are vitamin D deficient during early pregnancy. 

Invited speakers will review the status of basic research on placental development and preeclampsia and discuss research directions that include strategies for determining the mechanism(s) through which vitamin D status at the maternal/fetal interface possibly influences adaptations in the phenotypes of invasive trophoblasts and decidual natural killer cells.  These cells are the key architects of uterine spiral artery remodeling and their dysregulation have implications for the increased risk of developing preeclampsia and other ischemic placental conditions in women of color.   

Speakers for the seminar include:

The seminar is free and open to the public. No registration is required. Individuals with disabilities who need sign language interpreters and/or reasonable accommodations to participate should contact Ann Marie Matlock at or 301-435-5679. Please make your requests at least 5 days in advance of the event.


Jean L. Flagg-Newton, OHE, OD, NICHD
Tel: (301) 435-2722

Please note: Views expressed during NICHD-sponsored events do not necessarily reflect the opinions or the official positions of NICHD, NIH, or HHS.
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