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New Research Funded to Identify Subtypes of Preeclampsia and Cellular Differences in Affected Placentas

Orlando, FL – February 2, 2022 The Preeclampsia Foundation announced today the recipients of its 2022 Peter Joseph Pappas Research Grants at the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine 42nd Annual Pregnancy Meeting. Based on the recommendations of its Preeclampsia Registry Advisory Council, the Preeclampsia Foundation awarded these two-year grants totaling $195,025 USD to Brian Cox, PhD, Associate Professor at the University of Toronto Department of Physiology, and Amit Zeisel, PhD and Ido Solt, MD, Assistant Professors at Technion, Israel Institute of Technology.

Some of the research will utilize data available through The Preeclampsia Registry™, the Preeclampsia Foundation’s dynamic database of consented participants that includes preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome survivors, family members, and controls.

Principal Investigator Brian Cox, PhD, and his project, Subtyping and clustering of preeclampsia, a personalized medicine approach to improve prediction, will be carried out at the Department of Physiology at the University of Toronto. The study will look at formally establishing preeclampsia subtypes to better predict when the disease’s symptoms will begin and when delivery may be needed. The study’s approach will utilize clustering and dimension reduction methods to find subgroups in pregnancy and associated subtypes of PE by analyzing three data cohorts comprising over 10,000 pregnancies.

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Brian Cox, PhD, Department of Physiology, University of Toronto

 

Principal Investigators Amit Zeisel, PhD and Ido Solt, MD, and their project, Cell-type specific differences between preeclampsia and normal placentas using unbiased single-cell RNA-sequencing, will be carried out at the Technion Research and Development Foundation. The study will focus on the difference between preeclamptic placentas and those of non-affected pregnancies by measuring tens of thousands of placenta cells, one cell at a time, using a state-of-the-art method called single-cell RNA-sequencing. Discovering the differences between preeclamptic and normal placentas at a cellular level could contribute to the understanding of the basic, initial mechanisms of the disease – a crucial step towards predicting and preventing preeclampsia. Importantly, the collected datasets will be used to construct an open, easily accessible online resource to serve as a reference atlas of human placenta in health and disease that will be broadly available to the larger research community.

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The team from Technion Research and Development Foundation: (left to right) Dr. Ido Solt, PhD candidate and preeclampsia survivor Inbal Admati, Dr. Amit Zeisel, MSc candidate Niv Skarbianskis, and postdoctoral researcher Hannah Hochgerner.

 

Named for the infant son of preeclampsia survivor Lauren Pappas and her husband Clement, the Peter Joseph Pappas Research Grants program award grants totaling up to $200,000 each year. The ultimate goal of the program is to drive research that will eliminate the delivery of pre-term babies as an intervention for severe preeclampsia, HELLP syndrome, and related hypertensive disorders of pregnancy.

“We lost our son Peter due to preeclampsia following a 29-week delivery in 2015,” explained Lauren Pappas. “Since then we have dedicated our lives to helping others avoid the same outcome by establishing the Peter Joseph Pappas Fund.”

“Thanks to generous contributions from family and friends, and our partnership with the Preeclampsia Foundation, we are making strides to reach our ultimate goal of eliminating pre-term births due to preeclampsia by 2050,” added Clement Pappas.

The Peter Joseph Pappas Research Grants program adds to the Preeclampsia Foundation’s portfolio of research programs including the Vision Grant program for young investigators, PRIME for health services research, and EMPOWER, which helps build research capacity in low- and middle-income countries.

Questions about Peter Joseph Pappas Research Grants program? Email PJPGrants@preeclampsia.org.

About the Preeclampsia Foundation

The Preeclampsia Foundation is a U.S.-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization established in 2000 to improve the outcomes of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy by educating, supporting, and engaging the community, improving healthcare practices, and finding a cure. We envision a world where preeclampsia and related hypertensive disorders of pregnancy no longer threaten the lives of mothers and babies. For more information, visit www.preeclampsia.org.

About the Peter Joseph Pappas Research Grant Program

Clement and Lauren Pappas of Philadelphia, PA, lost their firstborn child, Peter Joseph, after HELLP syndrome necessitated his early delivery. Their son, born at 29 weeks’ gestation, spent a week in the neonatal intensive care unit before dying from a central line infection. The Pappas family, along with friends and family, have established this special fund with the Preeclampsia Foundation to advance research, with the overarching goal of eliminating pre-term births due to preeclampsia by 2050.

Research Funding

Our mission is to find a cure for preeclampsia and other related hypertensive disorders of pregnancy.  Join us and apply for funding to help us save moms and their babies.

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