Pregnancy and Environment

Director: Jayanth Ramadoss


Research Faculty:

Mothers who were born preterm have a 46% increased rate of delivering their own baby prematurely compared to mothers born at term. This is an example of transgenerational transmission of a disease condition that is likely impacted by GENETIC, ENVIRONMENTAL and EPIGENETIC factors. Currently Detroit, Michigan, ranks as the worst city in the US for its preterm birth rate of 14.5% compared to Irvine, California, which a has a preterm birth rate of 4.5%.

At the C. S. Mott center we believe that education begins in the womb, as there are distinct developmental consequences to stresses experienced during pregnancy. Unfortunately, Detroit represents the perfect storm where the impact of race, genetics and environmental factors such as pollution and socioeconomic stresses, disproportionately affect fetal developmental programming, which not only impacts the health and well-being of the baby but can also perpetuate transgenerational disease conditions in future generations. Our Pregnancy and Preterm Birth Research Program is examining the pregnancy specific triggers that impact the developmental programming of adult disease and devising therapies to target and prevent abnormal outcomes with the goal of halting the self perpetuating cycle of transgenerational disease progression that initiates in utero.


A Bold New Approach

At the Wayne State University School of Medicine, we are dedicated to a collaborative, team-based approach to academic research that gets results.

The Pregnancy and Preterm Birth Research Program has several concurrent research tracks:

Circulating Stress Biomarkers

Circulating biomarkers released by the uterine-fetal compartment during pregnancy that act as readouts of environmental, psychological, physiological and socioeconomic stressors are currently being isolated. These early warning signals originating from the uterine-fetal compartment, act as predictive biomarkers of a dysregulated pregnancy. Identifying those pregnancies that are at risk with a simple blood test for a predictive biomarker will be the first step to ensure prompt diagnosis and effective treatment.

Mechanisms Driving Developmental Programming.

Targeting the signaling pathways that give rise to and/or respond to these novel endogenous stress biomarkers will allow us understand why and define which populations of women, when pregnant are more at risk for anomalous developmental programming.

Translating Our Research Into Clinical Applications.

There is an urgent need for new treatments to prevent the self-perpetuating cycle of transgenerational disease transmission. Utilizing our complementary skill sets in immunology, molecular biology, reproductive physiology, environmental disruptors, transgenic animal modeling and human sample sets, we can translate our research to clinical applications. These advances will promote new strides in the management and treatment of abnormal developmental programming helping to halt the cycle of transgenerational disease transmission.

Commitment to Education Throughout

The Wayne State University School of Medicine is dedicated to educating the next generation of physician-scientists to achieve health and wellness for our community. Through pioneering research and clinical excellence, and to ensure that research endeavors continue in the next generation, the program will train high school students, undergraduate students, residents, and post-doctoral fellows in developmental programming and transgenerational disease transmission. In addition, our researchers will participate in community education programs that support patient-initiated awareness to enable early detection of at risk pregnancies. From genetic, epigenetic and environmental threats to early-detection of pregnancies at risk, we can identify and care for the most vulnerable in our community and ultimately, improve patient outcomes for future generations.

Naming opportunities are available for the Pregnancy and Preterm Birth Research Program at the C.S. Mott Center for Human Growth and Development. We would be pleased to share more about how you can join our fight to educate the community about the importance of a healthy pregnancy and it's impact on the health of future generations, through leadership philanthropy at the Wayne State University School of Medicine.

 International Women Health Research Program 


Mott Center Core Equipment