Preeclampsia Foundation Canada has announced that Kylie Belchamber, PhD of University of Birmingham, and Serena Gundy, MD, FRCP of McMaster University, are their 2023 Vision Grant research award recipients. These highly competitive monetary awards recognize the best junior investigators with novel research ideas in preeclampsia and related hypertensive disorders of pregnancy.
A scientific review committee reviews all Vision Grant applications with a further review by a patient advisory board, who then make a recommendation on the awardees for the year. Preeclampsia Foundation Canada’s Board of Directors then render the final decision on these recommendations.
Dr. Belchamber’s research is funded by generous support from Cara HELLPs research fund, established at Preeclampsia Foundation Canada. The study entitled “Understanding the role of decidual macrophages in pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome” will be conducted at the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing, at the University of Birmingham in the UK. The research study will focus on maternal white blood cells called macrophages. In women who develop preeclampsia, these macrophages have been shown to become activated and release chemicals that cause inflammation and placental damage. The study will compare placental macrophages of women with and without preeclampsia or HELLP syndrome to help better understand how these cells function.
Pictured: Dr. Kylie Belchamber
Dr Kylie Belchamber is an established macrophage biologist, with 10 years’ experience studying tissue and blood derived macrophage phenotype and function in health and disease. She trained in macrophage biology at the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London, and has since established her laboratory at the University of Birmingham, where she utilizes macrophage functional assays including efferocytosis and phagocytosis, to understand how macrophages contribute to disease pathogenesis. She also has a personal connection as a preeclampsia survivor during her first pregnancy, which required her to have an emergency c-section.
“The placenta is an amazing organ that plays a crucial role in the development of the baby, but at the moment, we know very little about the role maternal macrophages play in the placenta, and what about them changes in preeclampsia,” said Dr. Belchamber. “We hope that this research will help to find this out, and in the long run identify new treatments to prevent preeclampsia from developing in the first place.”
Dr. Gundy’s research study entitled “Assessing the Postpartum Mental Health of Women who have experienced a Hypertensive Disorder of Pregnancy: A Pilot Study” will be conducted at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Her research study will assess the relationship between preeclampsia and the development of mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) over the first year postpartum.
Pictured: Dr. Serena Gundy
Dr. Gundy is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine and Obstetrics, and a full-time obstetric medicine physician with an interest in postpartum care and high-risk transitions. She is the Medical Director of Obstetric Medicine at Hamilton Health Sciences and developed and leads the Postpartum Vascular Clinic at McMaster University.
“Although my clinical focus is on cardiovascular risk reduction and medical recovery, speaking with over 300 postpartum patients who have experienced a hypertensive disorder of pregnancy has made me keenly aware of the unique mental health challenges my patients face,” said Dr.Gundy. “As we work to identify patients who need more intensive cardiovascular screening and long-term follow-up, we must do the same for mental health recovery, as the two are intricately connected to overall patient wellness. It’s our hope that this study will provide important insights into the development and trajectory of mental health conditions in the first year postpartum.”
For more information or to arrange an interview, please call 1.800.665.9341.
Preeclampsia Foundation Canada
Preeclampsia Foundation Canada was incorporated under the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act in May 2015. A charity dedicated to its mission of raising awareness and advancing education and research of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy. These activities are made possible by the combined efforts of our dedicated Board of Directors, Medical Advisory Board members, donors, and volunteers. For more information, visit www.preeclampsiacanada.ca.
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.
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