Digna R. Velez Edwards, PhD
Dr. Velez Edwards’ research is focused on understanding and identifying genetic risk factors for complex diseases with a specific focus on genetic factors related to women’s health and reproductive outcomes. Her lab’s current research projects focus on examining genetic risk factors for adverse pregnancy outcomes in a large epidemiologic pregnancy cohort. For these studies she is working with Right from the Start: A Study of Early Pregnancy Health (RFTS). RFTS is an ongoing, community-based prospective cohort study with the goal of advancing knowledge about maternal and fetal health from conception to birth. Since 1999, RFTS has enrolled more than 6,000 women, 20% prior to conception, in order to study determinants of fecundability, miscarriage, spontaneous preterm birth, and other adverse pregnancy outcomes. Data have been carefully collected with regard to quality control, and the data set has reached sufficient size to have good power to investigate additional important etiologic and clinically relevant questions. They are collecting DNA samples from past and current RFTS participants and their children to ask new questions regarding the etiology of pregnancy and its adverse outcomes. Current studies focus on testing for interactions between genes and maternal exposures during pregnancy. These studies include examining maternal nonsteroidal-anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) exposure during preconception and early pregnancy on risk for spontaneous abortion as well as studies examining environmental exposures, including bleeding and spotting during pregnancy, on risk for spontaneous preterm birth.