Meet the researchers

Building a Transdisciplinary, Cross-Institutional Investigative Team

The March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center Ohio Collaborative

The March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center Ohio Collaborative includes over 50 faculty-level investigators, trainees and staff and is led by its program directors, Louis J. Muglia, MD, PhD, Irina A. Buhimschi, MD and Sam Mesiano, PhD.

Two key research themes are being pursued to further discovery of the unknown genetic and biological causes of preterm birth. Ohio Collaborative investigators have spearheaded a large genome-wide study, the results of which were published in the New England Journal of Medicine, identifying six genes for further study which may play a significant role in a woman's risk for preterm birth.  The first theme area focuses on discovery of additional gene loci and functional analysis of these gene candidates. The Ohio Collaborative's other primary area of discovery is to examine the cross communication between the endocrine and maternal immune system, exploring how progesterone affects immune tolerance and serves as a unifying trigger of term and preterm birth.

Program Directors

Louis J. Muglia, M.D., PH.D. Coordinating Principal Investigator and Program Director) is Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Cincinnati and Vice Chair for Research, Co-Director of the Perinatal Institute and the A. Graeme Mitchell Chair and Director of the Division of Human Genetics at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. As Coordinating Principal Investigator and Program Director of the March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center Ohio Collaborative, he works closely with the other program directors to lead the Collaborative's effort to understand preterm birth, focusing on research efforts at Cincinnati Children's and University of Cincinnati. For over 30 years, Dr. Muglia has been at the forefront of research, professional education, science and clinical care in pediatrics. His expertise in genetics and endocrine signaling pathways has led to an innovative comparative genomic approach to identifying novel genes likely to be involved in the timing of birth. Dr. Muglia has mentored numerous graduate and postdoctoral students and trainees and published more than 240 articles in leading peer-reviewed journals. He has been recognized with numerous awards and is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies and the American Society for Clinical Investigation.

Irina A. Buhimschi, M.D. ​(Program Director) is Professor of Pediatrics and Obstetrics/Gynecology at The Ohio State University and the Director of the Center for Perinatal Research at The Research Institute of Nationwide Children's Hospital. As Program Director, she serves as a key member of the Ohio Collaborative leadership team and has oversight responsibility for the Collaborative's research efforts in the Columbus area. Dr. Buhimschi’s research interests span the broad area of understanding the molecular and pathophysiologic mechanisms of preterm birth and preeclampsia that together account for the large majority of preterm births. Her work has been supported by the NIH, March of Dimes, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, USAID and other funding agencies. She has more than 180 peer-reviewed publications, has served on numerous editorial boards and grant review committees and is a highly sought mentor for undergraduate students, clinical fellows and junior faculty.

Sam Mesiano, Ph.D. (Program Director) is the William H. Weir Professor of Reproductive Biology at Case Western Reserve University, and Vice Chair for Research and Director of the Research Division in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University Hospitals of Cleveland. As Program Director, he serves as a key member of the Ohio Collaborative leadership team and directs the research efforts at the Cleveland area components of the Collaborative. Dr. Mesiano’s expertise in reproductive biology and specifically in understanding how progesterone promotes pregnancy and how its withdrawal is mediated to initiate labor will be critical for the long-term goal of developing therapeutics to prevent preterm birth by exploiting the natural pro-gestational actions of progesterone. He has received the President's Achievement Award from the Society for Reproductive Investigation and is a member of the Preterm Birth International Collaborative.

Ohio Collaborative Investigators

Administrative Core

Program Directors

Louis Muglia, MD, PhD Professor of Pediatrics, University of Cincinnati; Vice Chair of Research, Co-Director, Perinatal Institute and Director, Division of Human Genetics, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
Irina Buhimschi, MD Professor of Pediatrics and Obstetrics and Gynecology, The Ohio State University; Director, Center for Perinatal Research, The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital
Sam Mesiano, PhD Professor of Reproductive Biology, Case Western Reserve University; Co-Director, Research Division, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University Hospitals of Cleveland

Co-Directors and Collaborating Faculty

Catalin Buhimschi, MD Professor of Pediatrics and Obstetrics and Gynecology, The Ohio State University
James Greenberg, MD Professor of Pediatrics, University of Cincinnati; Co-Director, Perinatal Institute and Director, Division of Neonatology, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
Jeffrey Whitsett, MD Professor, University of Cincinnati; Co-Director, Perinatal Institute and Chief, Section of Neonatology, Perinatal and Pulmonary Biology

Staff

Joanne Chappell Director of Operations
Stephanie Swart Project Coordinator

Theme 1 – From Gene Discovery in Human Pregnancy to Mechanism for Birth Timing

Theme Leaders. Section Heads and Collaborating Faculty

Louis Muglia, MD, PhD Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics; Vice Chair of Research, Co-Director, Perinatal Institute and Director, Division of Human Genetics, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
Antonis Rokas, PhD Professor of Biological Sciences and Biomedical Information, Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair of Biological Sciences, Vanderbilt University
Patrick Abbot, PhD Associate Professor of Biological Sciences, Vanderbilt University
Tony Capra, PhD Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences and Biomedical Information, Vanderbilt University
Mihaela Pavlicev, PhD Assistant Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics; Division of Human Genetics, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
Scott Williams, PhD Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and Genetics and Genome Sciences, Department of Population and Quantitative Health Services, Case Western Reserve University
Ge Zhang, MD, PhD Associate Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics; Division of Human Genetics, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
Emily DeFranco, DO, MS Associate Professor, Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Cincinnati
Sudhansu K. Dey, PhD Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics; Director, Division of Reproductive Sciences, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
Eric Hall, PhD Associate Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics; Department of Neonatology and Division of Biomedical Informatics
Helen Jones, PhD Assistant Professor, UC Department of Surgery; Head of Research, Research Center for Fetal and Placental Therapy, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
Leah Kottyan, PhD Assistant Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics, Center for Autoimmune Genomics and Etiology (CAGE), Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
Kenneth Petren, PhD Professor and Dean, McMicken College of Arts and Sciences, University of Cincinnati
Kelli Ryckman, PhD Associate Professor, Department of Epidemiology, College of Public Health, University of Iowa
Matthew Weirauch, PhD Assistant Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics, Center for Autoimmune Genomics and Etiology (CAGE), Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
 

Theme 2 – Endocrine-Immune Crosstalk in Pregnancy Maintenance and Preterm Birth

Theme Leaders and Collaborating Faculty

Sam Mesiano, PhD Professor of Reproductive Biology, Case Western Reserve University; Co-Director, Research Division, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University Hospitals of Cleveland
Sing Sing Way, MD, PhD Associate Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics; Pauline and Lawson Reed Chair, Division of Infectious Diseases, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
Catalin Buhimschi, MD Professor of Pediatrics and Obstetrics and Gynecology, The Ohio State University
Irina Buhimschi, MD Professor of Pediatrics and Obstetrics and Gynecology, The Ohio State University; Director, Center for Perinatal Research, The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital
Edward Chien, MD Associate Professor, Case Western Reserve University; Division Director of Maternal Fetal Medicine, MetroHealth Medical Center
David Hackney, MD Associate Professor of Reproductive Biology, Case Western Reserve University; Division Chief, Maternal Fetal Medicine, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center
Brian Mercer, MD Professor of Reproductive Biology, Case Western Reserve University; Chair, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, MetroHealth Medical Center
Louis Muglia, MD, PhD Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics; Vice Chair of Research, Co-Director, Perinatal Institute and Director, Division of Human Genetics, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
Raymond Redline, MD Professor of Pathology and Reproductive Biology, Case Western Reserve University; Attending Physician, Department of Pathology, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center