Maternal-Fetal Medicine Research

The obstetrical volume on our campus affords a special opportunity for outcomes-based clinical research and to better define evidence of effective clinical practices in areas where it is lacking. Our faculty is philosophically dedicated to rigorous controlled trials intended to objectively evaluate principles of obstetrical care.

The Division uses a combination of research approaches — from retrospective analyses to prospective observational studies and randomized clinical studies — in an effort to measure health care outcomes and better optimize obstetrical patient care.

“We have a responsibility to measure the efficacy and safety of what we do for our patients. To us measuring is a special requirement for the physicians responsible for the largest public hospital maternity service in the United States.”
Kenneth J. Leveno, M.D.

Since 1955, evidence-based medicine has been a way of life in obstetrics and gynecology. Now referred to as health care outcomes research, it is a crucial part of the identity of the physician staff responsible for Parkland Obstetrics. We constantly ask ourselves — “Does this therapy or diagnostic approach work? And, is it safe?” To us measuring is an imperative in our professional lives. It is the way we teach and practice medicine. This focus has led to many high-impact publications.

Thanks to an obstetrical quality database developed by Kenneth Leveno, M.D., physicians can compare the outcomes of new treatment protocols to the results of the past. A $2.5 million gift to the Parkland Foundation and UT Southwestern from the Simmons Sisters Fund helps sustain and expand the Obstetrical Quality and Research Center and enables the Center to pursue new research ideas, recruit new clinical scholars, and attract the most promising fellows who are serious and passionate about maternal and fetal medicine.

Other members of our Department are engaged in basic research to enhance our understanding of human reproduction and improve outcomes for mothers and their newborns. In Mala Mahendroo’s Lab, the focus is on understanding the process of birth itself in order to devise therapies to prevent preterm birth. In R. Ann Word’s Lab, molecular and cellular techniques are being used to identify how the female reproductive tract changes during pregnancy, childbirth, and afterwards. In addition, several other faculty members in the Cecil H. and Ida Green Center for Reproductive Biology Sciences are working on diverse aspects of female reproductive biology and focusing on molecular mechanisms.