Wendy M. White, M.D., studies preeclampsia from multiple points of view at the genetic, epigenetic, translational and epidemiologic levels. This includes DNA methylation patterns in maternal leukocytes, gene transcription, alterations in the level and function of related proteins, and searching for biomarkers in blood and urine to diagnose and predict current or future disease.
Dr. White is also researching the long-term impact of hypertension in pregnancy on the future health of mother and child. Additionally, she is interested in other pathologic conditions of pregnancy, including as stillbirth and preterm labor, from a genetic perspective.
- Preeclampsia. Dr. White characterizes angiogenic markers, such as soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase-1 (sFlt-1), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and placenta growth factor (PlGF), and their association with the development of preeclampsia. She is also investigating the process of podocyte loss in diseases such as preeclampsia, including the development of new flow cytometry methodologies.
- Epidemiology of pathologic conditions of pregnancy. Dr. White is working to establish an accurate incidence estimate of preeclampsia in a population-based cohort and discover the risk of future cardiovascular and renal disease in women with a history of hypertensive disorders in pregnancy.
- Genetics and epigenetics. Dr. White's studies the role of epigenetic alterations in maternal DNA in the development of normal and pathologic pregnancy.
- Stillbirth. Dr. White has identified a link between stillbirth and miscarriage and an increased risk of carrying mutations in the genes, such as those in long QT syndrome, that may cause arrhythmia.
Significance to patient care
Dr. White's hope is that through her research, better tools will be developed to help predict who is at risk of preeclampsia. She also aims to understand the causes, study improvements for interventions and determine which patients with a history of hypertension are at risk of future adverse outcomes, as well as following those patients more closely.