Vision for Improving Pregnancy Health: Innovation and the Future of Pregnancy Research

James M. Roberts, Dominik Heider, Lina Bergman, Kent L. Thornburg

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    Abstract

    Understanding, predicting, and preventing pregnancy disorders have been a major research target. Nonetheless, the lack of progress is illustrated by research results related to preeclampsia and other hypertensive pregnancy disorders. These remain a major cause of maternal and infant mortality worldwide. There is a general consensus that the rate of progress toward understanding pregnancy disorders lags behind progress in other aspects of human health. In this presentation, we advance an explanation for this failure and suggest solutions. We propose that progress has been impeded by narrowly focused research training and limited imagination and innovation, resulting in the failure to think beyond conventional research approaches and analytical strategies. Investigations have been largely limited to hypothesis-generating approaches constrained by attempts to force poorly defined complex disorders into a single “unifying” hypothesis. Future progress could be accelerated by rethinking this approach. We advise taking advantage of innovative approaches that will generate new research strategies for investigating pregnancy abnormalities. Studies should begin before conception, assessing pregnancy longitudinally, before, during, and after pregnancy. Pregnancy disorders should be defined by pathophysiology rather than phenotype, and state of the art agnostic assessment of data should be adopted to generate new ideas. Taking advantage of new approaches mandates emphasizing innovation, inclusion of large datasets, and use of state of the art experimental and analytical techniques. A revolution in understanding pregnancy-associated disorders will depend on networks of scientists who are driven by an intense biological curiosity, a team spirit, and the tools to make new discoveries.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1-13
    Number of pages13
    JournalReproductive Sciences
    DOIs
    StateAccepted/In press - 2022

    Keywords

    • Artificial intelligence
    • Innovation
    • Preeclampsia
    • Research
    • Training

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Obstetrics and Gynecology

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