The Hartwell Foundation backs 2 scientists' research

By Amanda Siegfried
Dr. Mala Mahendroo, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology, and Dr. Stryder Meadows, a postdoctoral research fellow in molecular biology, have been selected to receive awards to further their respective research goals.

Dr. Mala Mahendroo

Dr. Mahendroo was selected by The Hartwell Foundation to receive one of 12 Individual Biomedical Research Awards for 2008. As one of the Hartwell Investigators representing 12 U.S. institutions, she will receive $100,000 per year for three years to support her research to develop new clinical tools that might aid in predicting preterm labor.

Annually, approximately 500,000 babies in the U.S. are born prematurely, and daily 12 infants die due to complications associated with prematurity. Costs for care of these infants approach $26 billion a year.

Despite extensive research, in 50 percent of preterm births, the cause is unknown, and onset of premature labor is unexpected.

Dr. Mahendroo’s research focuses on using a novel, noninvasive laser-based technology called second harmonic generation (SHG) imaging to characterize collagen fibers in the cervix and the changes these collagen structures undergo during normal pregnancy. Her goal is to develop a diagnostic instrument based upon the technology to identify women at risk of preterm labor.

“Through a unique and selective funding process, The Hartwell Foundation has worked with UT Southwestern to provide financial support to stimulate biomedical discovery,” said Dr. Fred Dombrose, president of the foundation. “Transformative research, like that proposed by Dr. Mahendroo, has high risk compared to more conservative approaches. But if successful, she will make a substantial contribution to children’s health by providing an effective means for predicting preterm birth and, thereby, the hope for new therapies to control the onset of prematurity.”

The Hartwell Foundation, which supports research aimed at advancing children’s health, has for the past three years selected UT Southwestern as one of its Top Centers of Biomedical Research. The designation provides UT Southwestern an opportunity to nominate candidates for consider­ation as Hartwell Investigators.

Dr. Meadows was selected by UT Southwestern to receive the 2008 Hartwell Fellowship, provided to the medical center by the foundation as a result of UT Southwestern being chosen as one of the Top Centers of Biomedical Research in 2008. The award provides $50,000 per year for two years and will support his training and research on the molecular cues that guide the formation of blood vessels in embryos.

Dr. Stryder Meadows

Dr. Meadows’ studies of blood-vessel patterning might lead to a better understanding of cardiovascular defects in children as well as the underlying mechanisms of cardiovascular diseases. Only 10 Hartwell Fellowships are awarded each year.

In making Individual Biomedical Research Awards, The Hartwell Foundation takes into account the nature of the proposed innovation, the extent to which translational approaches will promote rapid clinical application of the research results in support of children’s health, the supportive role of collaboration, and the institutional commitment to provide encourage­ment and technical support to the investigators.

“Support from The Hartwell Foundation for our young investigators is a distinct honor for Drs. Mahendroo and Meadows and recognition of UT Southwestern’s status among the nation’s top biomedical research institutions,” said Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, UT Southwestern president.

More information about The Hartwell Foundation is available on its Web site at www.thehartwellfoundation.org.

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