Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has renewed a $4.3 million grant to the University of Iowa College of Public Health for a project to identify factors in early pregnancy that may increase the risk of major structural birth defects.

The award is to continue the work of the Iowa Center of Excellence for Birth Defects Research and Prevention, including participation in the Birth Defects Study to Evaluate Pregnancy exposures (BD-STEPS). Among the goals are conducting comprehensive ascertainment of common, severe major structural birth defects, identifying associations with environmental exposures and genetic factors, and expanding a training program to develop the future generation of birth defect researchers.

Paul Romitti, professor of epidemiology in the UI College of Public Health, is the principal investigator on the award, and Kristin Conway, associate research scientist in the UI College of Public Health, is the co-principal investigator. Romitti also directs the Iowa Center and Iowa Registry for Congenital and Inherited Disorders.

“In our previous work, we expertly conducted data collection and made substantial contributions to birth defects research, ranging from methods development to identifying gene-environment interaction effects,” says Romitti. “With our new funding, we will place an emphasis on studying the impact of chronic disease, including cancer, and medications used during pregnancy on development of birth defects.”

Collaborators at the UI include Charles Lynch and Jacob Oleson from the College of Public Health, and Thomas Scholz and Alpa Sidhu from the Carver College of Medicine.