GETS $5 MILLION GRANT FOR WOMEN'S HEALTH STUDIES
School of Medicine has been chosen one of eleven institutions in the
United States to receive a $5 million grant from the National Institutes
of Health (NIH) under the umbrella of the Specialized Centers of Research
on Sex and Gender Factors Affecting Women's Health (SCOR).
The Emory center grant will
be led by Zachary Stowe, M.D., associate professor in the Department
of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and director of the Women's Mental
Health Program. The center grant will represent a broad collaborative
effort with faculty from Emory, Medical University of South Carolina,
and community based clinicians to study the metabolism of psychiatric
and anti-epileptic medications during pregnancy and to determine baby's
exposure to medications.
The Emory SCOR will study
the effects of depression, psychosis, and other neurological illnesses
such as epilepsy and Tourette's syndrome during pregnancy and the postpartum
period. Medications such as anti-depressants, anti-epileptic drugs,
and over-the-counter medications will be investigated with respect to
determining the baby's exposure to these medications and the options
for reducing baby's exposure.
"This will be the largest
prospective study ever done to determine what pattern of medical exposure
may contribute to birth outcomes," said Dr. Stowe. "Doctors have begun
to realize that it is potentially dangerous to leave an expectant mother
untreated if she is suffering from psychiatric or neurological disorders.
We have an obligation to both the mother and the unborn child to find
the most effective means to treat the mother's illness, while minimizing
risk for potential problems down the road."
Drs. Stowe and Owens in Psychiatry
will be joined by Dr. Page Pennell in Neurology, Dr. James C. Ritchie
in Pathology, with collaborative efforts involving obstetrician/gynecologists,
geneticists and pediatricians during the five-year study. "Once we have
the exposure data, we will extend the study to include testing the infants
to determine the impact of the medication and/or illness exposure."
Screening should be underway
in the next few months. Dr. Stowe and his team will be looking for 400-500
women to participate in the study.
"This is the first congressional
award of its kind for women's health. In addition to determining what
currently approved medications cross the placenta from the mother's
bloodstream into that of the fetus and potentially cause problems, we
will be able to use this data to create new and better medications,"
said Dr. Stowe. "I am delighted to be involved in the process."