We are often asked, “Why conduct and invest in basic research in a clinical department?” An investment in basic research at the cellular and molecular level provides us with the tools needed to understand diseases that do not yet have a clinical treatment. Where therapies are known and have complications, basic science research is essential to understanding their side effects and how to avoid them.
A significant focus of our basic research program is in seeking to understand the cellular and molecular interactions and functions that are needed to establish a healthy pregnancy to full gestation in both animal and human models. A healthy pregnancy has the greatest benefit to mother, child and society; however, understanding the causes of pregnancy complications such as pre-eclampsia and potential pre-term labor and delivery that result from this condition is essential to developing safe, effective treatments for mother and child.
As an academic institution, our mission is to educate future scientists and physicians in the new world of interdisciplinary and collaborative biomedical research. In particular, for NIH’s (National Institutes of Health) initiative to build interdisciplinary teams to be achieved we must have basic researchers working in clinical departments in order to understand what the clinical problem is at a mechanistic level. Likewise for doctors who are practicing clinical medicine to know what is possible they need to see and understand cutting edge research being done in their own department. We must not overlook the pre- and post-doctoral scholars within our department who are essential to advancing the research mission not only to support work conducted by the faculty Principal Investigator, but also to develop their own career paths through guided mentorship and training. For these reasons, conducting basic research in a clinical department is essential to a healthy and bright future for all women, infants and children.