Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Research Programs

NICHD Fetal Growth Study (GROBMAN)

The NICHD Fetal Growth Study is a multicenter observational study supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.  The study is designed to establish a reliable standard for fetal growth in the U.S. population using longitudinally collected two- and three-dimensional fetal anthropometric measurements.  The study began recruiting women with singleton pregnancies in 2009, and was later expanded to include women with twin pregnancies (NICHD Fetal Growth Study -Twin Gestations). The NICHD Fetal Growth Study has completed recruitment for both the singleton and twin portions of the study and will have important implications for clinical practice.

The Nullip/nuMOM2b (GROBMAN)

Northwestern University is one of eight sites nationally conducting an NIH funded study looking at specific outcomes from the pregnancy of nulliparous (first time mothers) women under the direction of Dr. William Grobman.  With about 40% of women in the United States being first time mothers, historical data predicting poor outcome in pregnancy for patients is lacking.  The nuMOM2b study aims to enroll 10,000 women across the country to identify why some women experience complications and others do not.  Researchers will collect blood, urine, and vaginal specimens; 2nd and 3rd trimester ultrasound measurements; placental, umbilical cord, and cord blood samples along with subject interviews.

Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units (MFMU) Network (GROBMAN)

Northwestern University is a participating site and member of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development's Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units (MFMU) Network under the direction of Dr. William Grobman. The mission of research conducted by the MFMU Network is to reduce the incidence of prematurity and/or the sequelae of premature birth. Through completion of randomized clinical trials (RCTs or interventional studies) and observational studies, current obstetric care practices are modified and/or new obstetric care trends are initiated based on evidence generated by the research studies, favorably impacting maternal and neonatal outcomes. Since 2001, Northwestern has proudly collaborated with the MFMU Network on such studies as weekly progesterone injections for women with a history of preterm delivery and Beneficial Effects of Antenatal Magnesium Sulfate (BEAM), both of which are now standard of care for pregnant women with indications for their respective uses. Current studies include screening pregnant women for CMV to identify women with an infection in the current pregnancy, ST segment analysis of the FHR as an adjunct to electronic fetal monitoring, observational study of HCV in pregnant women and betamethasone use for women who are highly likely to deliver prematurely between 34 -36 completed weeks.

MOD: March of Dimes (GROBMAN)

In June of 2015, the March of Dimes joined with Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and other universities to launch the fifth Prematurity Research Center aimed exclusively at finding the unknown causes of premature birth. This demonstrates the commitment and enthusiasm of accomplished directors, investigators and faculty as they come together in this transdisciplinary and cross-institutional effort to solve the mysteries of premature birth.  This team will collaborate with the other four centers as they pursue the challenging questions of what causes premature birth, and specifically address five interrelated transdisciplinary research themes around gene regulation.

Learn more about the March of Dimes.

MOMFIT: Maternal-Offspring Metabolics: Family Intervention Trial (PEACEMAN)

The prevalence of obesity has increased dramatically in the US over the last two decades, with rapidly rising and premature adverse health consequences. Women of reproductive age, especially minorities and those of low socioeconomic status, are at risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes due to excessive gestational weight gain (GWG) and this further contributes to alarming rates of childhood obesity and diabetes. Preventing excessive GWG could reduce pregnancy complications and improve long term health of women and their offspring. Weight control studies in pregnancy are emerging but most studies have emulated traditional weight control programs through diet counseling and/or increased activity with limited evidence of sustained adherence. Novel approaches are needed to limit weight gain to Institute of Medicine (IOM) goals, and to help new-mothers adhere to recommended diet, physical activity and lifestyle behaviors they can model for their families. The proposed research will develop and test a new approach to primary and secondary prevention of obesity through a behaviorally adapted, nutrient-dense, energy-balanced lifestyle that can be implemented clinically, assessed objectively and sustained long term through technologically-advanced self-monitoring methods. This randomized controlled clinical trial compares with standard care, the GWG of overweight and obese pregnant women who participate in lifestyle intervention with individualized, motivational coaching and group sessionsto develop self-monitoring of recommended diet and physical activity behavior long term. Anthropometric, metabolic, diet, activity and lifestyle outcomes will be assessed prenatally and for at least 12 months post delivery. The Northwestern Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology provides care for over 12,000 ethnically diverse obstetric patients a year, many of whom participate in clinical trials, facilitated by a highly functional obstetric research infrastructure. Our multidisciplinary team, experienced in obstetrics and prevention research, propose innovative technology and enhanced self-monitoring skills to document whether new mothers can be better prepared to develop and model diet and energy-balanced lifestyle behaviors for their families and themselves and reduce and prevent obesity long term. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: The proposed study will advance understanding of the effectiveness of behavioral interventions aimed at controlling GWG in a large population of ethnically diverse overweight/ and obese women. Whether changes in diet and physical activity can effectively and safely be implemented during pregnancy and sustained postpartum will be explored, as well as impact on the adiposity of the offspring.

Oncofertility Consortium (WOODRUFF)

The Oncofertility Consortium was created at Northwestern University through a “Roadmap” grant from the NIH Common fund. The intent of the “Roadmap” grants were to begin to make progress on the most intractable research issues in investigators fields. Dr. Woodruff identified the issues related to fertility following cancer treatment as a significant problem for which a solution would necessitate a wide range of collaborating specialists.

The overall purpose of this interdisciplinary research consortium has been to focus on the fertility threat posed by cancer treatment and to serve as an authoritative voice for research, clinical practice and training that occurs at the intersection of oncology, pediatrics, reproductive science and medicine, biomechanics, materials science, mathematics, social science, bioethics, religion, policy research, reproductive health law, cognitive and learning science in a new discipline called Oncofertility. The Oncofertility Consortium will continue its work under newly developed grants that will also expand the population it seeks to help to those with non-cancerous diseases whose effects or treatment may threaten future fertility.

To learn more about the Oncofertility Consortium, click here.

Ovarian Cancer Early Detection and Prevention Program (SHAHABI)

The Northwestern Ovarian Cancer Early Detection and Prevention Program (NOCEDPP), under the direction of Dr. Lee Shulman, is a collaborative effort between Northwestern University and the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern.This collaborative effort integrates with the clinical screening of women at high risk of ovarian cancer with the development of new serum and plasma tumor markers for the early detection of ovarian cancer.

To learn more about the The Northwestern Ovarian Cancer Early Detection and Prevention Program (NOCEDPP). click here.

Uterine Leiomyoma Research Center Program (BULUN)

The Uterine Leiomyoma Research Center Program is the only NIH-funded fibroid research program in the world. Dr. Serdar Bulun joined together with Drs. Julie Kim, Debabrata Chakravarti, JianJun Wei, Erica Marsh, and Romana Nowak (University of Illinois) in 2005 to build a comprehensive and innovative research program for basic and clinical investigation of uterine fibroids. In 2009 this group received NIH funding for these efforts which has been used to demonstrate the roles of progesterone, antiprogestins, the AKT pathway and nuclear receptors in uterine fibroid biology. Recently, this group focused on the roles of tissue stem cells in uterine fibroid regeneration and growth. The group has also perfected the most clinically relevant models of uterine fibroids including engrafting human tissues and cells under the kidney capsule, primary 3D cultures of fibroid and myometrial cells, and isolation of somatic stem cells via antibody-based sorting.