The research interests of Vesna D. Garovic, M.D., center around hypertension and nephrology, with a special focus on women's health. Specifically, Dr. Garovic is interested in the pathophysiology of preeclampsia and the role that dysregulation of glomerular epithelial cells (podocytes) may play in the renal injury and proteinuria in preeclampsia.
Dr. Garovic also studies the role of epigenetic mechanisms in the regulation of specific signaling pathways that may contribute to impaired immune responses and vascular injuries in women with preeclampsia, both at the time of delivery and postpartum. Her research broadens the ramifications of preeclampsia well beyond reproductive age to include future increased risks of diseases such as coronary artery disease, stroke, chronic renal disease and end-stage renal disease.
Outside the field of obstetric nephrology, Dr. Garovic studies renal parenchymal disease, specifically thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura and hemolytic uremic syndrome, diagnosis and treatment of renovascular hypertension, ischemic nephropathy, and renal artery stenosis.
- Podocyte dysregulation in preeclampsia. Dr. Garovic was a recipient of a K08 award, which was instrumental in providing the initial evidence that proteinuria in preeclampsia is associated with urinary shedding of podocytes (podocyturia). In the research that followed, Dr. Garovic showed that podocyturia predates proteinuria and the clinical syndrome of preeclampsia, and that, after preeclamptic pregnancies, persistent urinary podocyte loss may reflect subclinical renal injury.
- Hypertension in pregnancy and development of renal disease. With support from the Society for Women's Health Research, Dr. Garovic studies the association between hypertensive pregnancy disorders and future renal disease.
- Hypertension in pregnancy, development of cardiovascular disease and cognitive impairment. This research involves a National Institutes of Health-funded study of the incidence of preeclampsia in patient populations and potential associations between preeclampsia and future hypertension, coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure, stroke and cognitive impairment.
- Maternal epigenetic changes in preeclamptic pregnancies. Additional research works to identify epigenetic mechanisms that may play a crucial role in control of maternal gene expression in normal pregnancies, and whether this process is disrupted in preeclampsia.
Significance to patient care
The overall goal of Dr. Garovic's research is to increase understanding of the causes and mechanisms that play a role in the pathogenesis of preeclampsia. The potential to identify targeted therapies that address the underlying causes of disease may improve treatment options for a disease that has seen few therapeutic advances in recent decades.
- Editor-in-chief, Nephrology Reviews, 2013-present
- Associate editor, Open Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2012-present
- Arnhold Women's Health Research Award, Foundation for Women's Wellness, 2011
- Society for Women's Health Research (SWHR) Isis Network award, 2011
- Department of Medicine Landmark Contribution to the Literature Award, Mayo Clinic, 2008