Development of Cell Free RNA Markers for Preeclampsia and Preterm Birth: Motivation, Method and (Potential) Clinical Meaning

Among the great diseases of pregnancy, preeclampsia and spontaneous preterm birth extract an exceedingly high degree of maternal and neonatal morbidity yet prediction of their potential occurrence in any given pregnancy remains frustratingly elusive. This talk will review the basis for why such predictive tests have been so elusive and the advances of our group in utilizing cell free RNA as a potential means to stratifying a patient’s risk of pregnancy complication. Finally, consideration will be given to the potential practical and clinical implications that such predictive tests might bring.


Dr. McElrath is Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology at Harvard Medical School and a Professor of Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health. He serves as a senior attending in Maternal-Fetal Medicine at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital where he is the director of the Preterm Birth Clinic. He is founder and Principal Investigator of the Boston based LIFECODES birth cohort and has research interests in the epidemiology of preterm birth particularly the development of novel biomarkers to classify the risk of preeclampsia and related adverse birth outcomes.