New OB/GYN Chair: Reflections and Vision for Future

On October 1, 2020, Nawal M. Nour, MD, MPH, became the chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Upon assuming her role, Dr. Nour became the first African-American department chair at the Brigham, the first department chair of Sudanese descent and the third woman to be named to a chair role. Dr. Nour succeeded Robert L. Barbieri, MD, who served in the role for 27 years and helped establish the department as a world leader in compassionate clinical care, teaching, research, innovation and discovery.

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Study Identifies Potential Biomarkers for Preeclampsia Risk

Separate clusters of circulating microparticle-associated proteins
Clusters of circulating microparticle-associated proteins sampled in the blood of women at 12 weeks’ gestation who later go on to develop preeclampsia. McElrath et al, Nature Scientific Reports 2020. Image used with permission.

Preeclampsia occurs in up to 7 percent of all pregnancies and is the third-leading cause of maternal mortality around the world. Yet despite how common it is, surprisingly little is known about its underlying causes. This lack of information has made it difficult to develop methods for determining which women are most at risk of developing preeclampsia and to find ways to reduce that risk or effectively treat the condition after it develops.

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Treating Critically Ill Pregnant Patients with COVID-19

pregnant woman in hospital bed

At Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine have a long history of caring for patients with complex health conditions that affect pregnant women, including placenta accreta and heart disease.

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Outpatient Prenatal Care During COVID-19

pregnant woman sitting on couch

The COVID-19 pandemic has uniquely affected outpatient prenatal care, which depends on frequent assessment of a pregnant mother and her fetus. At the start of the pandemic, the outpatient prenatal care program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital increased the use of virtual visits, allowing patients to regularly meet with their providers safely.

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Providing Contraception Care for Women with Complex Medical Needs

woman speaking to provider

For women with complex medical needs, contraception throughout childbearing years may be essential for managing their underlying medical conditions and setting the stage for a healthy pregnancy when desired. To provide the needed expertise, the High Risk Contraception Clinic at Brigham and Women’s Hospital works with patients, often in collaboration with disease sub-specialists, to provide individualized contraceptive care within the framework of the underlying condition.

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Estrogen Therapy: Effects Differ by Age Among Women Who Have Had Ovaries Removed

In the first randomized trial analysis of estrogen therapy after bilateral oophorectomy, women who underwent surgical menopause followed by estrogen therapy in their 50s showed a nearly one-third reduced risk of mortality over 18 years compared to women who received a placebo instead of estrogen. Older women (particularly age 70 and over) showed no such benefit and experienced a negative net effect from hormone therapy.
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Patients Taking PARP Inhibitor Survive Ovarian Cancer Longer with Fewer Complications

dna strand

Ovarian cancer is one of the deadliest forms of women’s cancer, with a five-year survival rate of 47.4 percent. The standard of care for first-line treatment is platinum- and taxane-based chemotherapy, which results in high initial response rates.

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Genetic Association with Recurrent Miscarriage May Guide Further Treatment

diagram of chromosomal rearrangments
Left: Circos plot showing a complex chromosomal rearrangement involving four chromosomes (color lines) detected by low-pass genome sequencing. Right: Karyotype showing a chromosomal rearrangement involving the interchange of fragments of different chromosomes.
Dong et al., Genome Sequencing Explores Complexity of Chromosomal Abnormalities in Recurrent Miscarriage, The American Journal of Human Genetics (2019)

For couples with recurrent miscarriage (RM), the condition remains unexplained in about 40 to 60 percent, even after costly testing. Chromosomal abnormalities—rearrangements of large chunks of DNA—in the genomes of one or both individuals trying to conceive are thought to be among the major genetic causes of RM. But routine chromosome analysis (karyotyping) can currently detect these abnormalities in only about 1 in 50 couples.

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Preserving Fertility with Minimally Invasive Myomectomy

3D illustration of surgical robot on white background

Uterine fibroids are highly prevalent in women over 35. As more women delay childbearing, techniques to remove uterine fibroids (leiomyomas) while also preserving fertility are of increasing importance.

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Artificial Intelligence to Automate Drug Infusions for Safer C-Sections

Vesela Kovacheva, MD, PhD, was not thinking about her work as an obstetric anesthesiologist when she opened an article about artificial intelligence (AI) in 2017, expecting to learn about self-driving cars and the algorithms behind online shopping.
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