The Future of Health Placenta Function Research Study

The Future of Health
Placenta Function Research Study

Funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

UW Obstetrics and Gynecology

Purpose of the Study

The placenta is the least understood human organ but arguably one of the most important. It influences not just the health of a woman and her fetus during pregnancy, but also the lifelong health of both.

As part of the Human Placenta Project, funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the University of Wisconsin-Madison placenta function research team, led by Principal Investigators Dinesh Shah, MD, and Oliver Wieben, PhD, will study and develop imaging techniques to identify pregnancy problems at a very early stage. The team will use cutting-edge ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques to measure early predictors of complications in pregnancies. The project is the first of its kind to study the placenta in real time, allowing clinicians and scientists to visualize diseases or abnormalities of pregnancy at very early stages.

The clinical studies will be carried out as a collaboration between the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Meriter Hospital, and Center for Perinatal Care. Imaging techniques will be developed in collaboration with UW-Madison Departments of Radiology and Medical Physics. These clinical studies are also supported by the Image Analysis Core (IMAC) Facility at the Wisconsin Institutes for Medical Research (WIMR), and the UW-Madison Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (ICTR).

Meet the Team


This study is now recruiting participants. Participation is simple and safe. Throughout the course of your pregnancy, you will periodically receive ultrasounds and MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scans, which will allow us to measure the blood flow between your placenta and your uterus. You will also contribute blood and urine samples during the research visits.

Ultrasounds and MRIs use NO RADIATION, and both procedures are safe for you and your child. Both ultrasound and MRI scanners have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

To ensure participant privacy, no research data from this study will be disclosed or included in patient records.

Free parking and a variety of appointment times are available, for your convenience.

Information gained about placenta function is for research purposes only and will not be used to make decisions about your prenatal care. Should researchers observe something unexpected in your results, we will notify your physician.

Contact a UW-Madison Ob-Gyn research coordinator at (608) 417-4218 or (608) 417-4230. Please refer to study #2015-1222.

Monitoring Steps

You will be monitored monthly throughout the duration of your pregnancy. You will be asked to provide blood and urine samples at some visits.

You will be scheduled for ultrasounds and MRI scans to measure your baby’s growth at 14, 20, and 24 weeks of pregnancy. These scans will take place at two different locations: Meriter Hospital and Wisconsin Institute for Medical Research (WIMR). Participants will be required to travel between Meriter Hospital and the WIMR building – a distance of approximately 2.5 miles. Visits may take up to one and a half hours, including travel time. Free parking is available at both study locations.


You may enjoy receiving results (images of your baby) from the ultrasound scans involved in this study. You are not expected to directly benefit from this study in any other way, though you may help other women by helping us learn more about the placenta in early pregnancy.


There will be no costs to you or your insurance company for participating in this study. Some of the ultrasounds involved in this study are routine, and scheduled at the normal times during your pregnancy. These regular visits will be billed to you or your insurance as usual. You will undergo additional ultrasounds and MRI scans as part of this study. These will not be charged to you or your insurance company.

Withdrawal from the Study

Your participation is entirely voluntary. You may change your mind at any time without any penalty or loss of benefits.

For More Information

To learn more about participating in the Future of Health placenta function research study, please contact:

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Research Coordinator

Phone: (608) 417-4218
Phone: (608) 417-4230
Study #2015-1222

Fax: (608) 417-4270