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Message from our Chair


Dr Charles NagerDear Colleagues,

This issue of Fimbria finds us at the end of the academic year. 

This has several implications, but one of the most exciting is the new trainees arriving and a cadre of residents, fellows and friends leaving us and carrying their UCSD training forward in their careers. In our "Meet" section, we talk to three of the incoming residents. 

This issue will add the theme of education, with articles celebrating the success of our educators across our disciplines. Contributions here and in the future will focus on the efforts and approaches being used to execute the training mission here at UCSD. 

Importantly, we also celebrate the retirement of Robert Resnik, a giant in the field of MFM. In addition to a lifetime of contributions within the field, Dr. Resnik is also author of Creasy & Resniks Maternal-Fetal Medicine: Principles and Practice. This is technically a second retirement for Bob, who has been professor emeritus at UCSD for more than a decade, and we will miss him dearly. 

In our research mission we continue to push into new areas, securing funding for research ranging from microbiome to tumor immunology. These are important new areas of study, and we continue to work at the forefront.

Of course, grant support only comes with publication, and we are happy to feature these supporting efforts as well. More than two dozen manuscripts have been published in the last quarter by department researchers. Notably, Louise Laurent and colleagues had impactful manuscripts in Cell.

You can read more about Louise's work in the Bench to Bedside section. While many researchers have not even heard of exRNA, Louise and collaborators have been analyzing biofluids to determine the best practices to follow to isolate and quantify it. ExRNA, or extracellular RNA, can provide clues as to a patient's health and the current progression of disease. While still in its infancy, the work holds significant promise for the future.

Hope you enjoy this and find it informative.  Please forward it on to colleagues if you do.  
We’ll see you next time.

Click HERE to open a PDF of the full newsletter or scroll down for highlights.

Charles W. Nager, MD                                                                                                                                                           Distinguished Professor and Samuel Yen Chair                                                                                                                         Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences

​Department Highlights

Congratulations - 

We continue to attract funding, climbing to number five nationally.

  • Varykina Thackray just received an R01 award to study the Role of the Gut Microbiome in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome .
  • Lauren Chun just received an F32 training award to study The Homeodomain Transcription Factors, Six6 and Six3, in the Circadian Regulation of Reproduction. Congratulations to Lauren and to her mentor, Pam Mellon.
  • David Schlaepfer & Dwayne Stupack just received a DOD Pilot award Targeting Ovarian Cancer Immune resistance.
  • Charlotte Conturie received a training award correlating maternal and neonatal microbiome profiles with pregnancy and postnatal outcomes: Urinary Microbiome vs. Vaginal and Rectal Microbiome during Pregnancy. Congratulations to Charlotte and to her mentor Louise Laurent.

Welcome -

New Residents:

    • 3rd Year - Josefine Doo, MD
    • Intern - Allison Brodsky, MD; Estefania Fernandes, MD; Diana Ha, MD; Tatyanna Henderson, MD; Joseph Mimms Jr, MD; Christine Zacheck, MD

New Fellows:

    • Female Pelvic Medicine - Linsdsey Burnett, MD 
    • Family Planning -  Nicole Economou, MD
    • Gynecologic Oncology -  Marianne Hom, MD
    • Maternal Fetal Medicine - Dora Melber, MD 
    • Reproductive Endocrinology - Beth Zhou, MD

Recent Publications

  • Design Cytogenetic, Genomic, and Functional Characterization of Pituitary Gonadotrope Cell Lines. Ruf-Zamojski F, Ge Y, Pincas H, Shan J, Song Y, Hines N, Kelley K, Montagna C, Nair P, Toufaily C, Bernard DJ, Mellon PL, Nair V, Turgeon JL, Sealfon SC. J Endocr Soc. 2019 Mar 25;3(5):902-920. doi: 10.1210/js.2019-00064. eCollection 2019 May 1. PMID: 31020055 Free PMC Article
  • The Contribution of the Circadian Gene Bmal1 to Female Fertility and the Generation of the Preovulatory Luteinizing Hormone Surge. Tonsfeldt KJ, Schoeller EL, Brusman LE, Cui LJ, Lee J, Mellon PL. J Endocr Soc. 2019 Feb 13;3(4):716-733. doi: 10.1210/js.2018-00228. eCollection 2019 Apr 1. PMID: 30906911
  • Differential CRE expression in Lhrh-Cre and Gnrh-Cre alleles and the impact on fertility in Otx2-_ox mice. Hoffmann HM, Larder R, Lee JS, Hu RJ, Trang C, Devries BM, Clark DD, Mellon PL. Neuroendocrinology. 2019 Feb 10. doi: 10.1159/000497791. PMID: 30739114
  • Small RNA Sequencing across Diverse Bio_uids Identi_es Optimal Methods for exRNA Isolation. Srinivasan S, Yeri A, Cheah PS, Chung A, Danielson K, De Ho_ P, Filant J, Laurent CD, Laurent LD, Magee R, Moeller C, Murthy VL, Nejad P, Paul A, Rigoutsos I, Rodosthenous R, Shah RV, Simonson B, To C, Wong D, Yan IK, Zhang X, Balaj L, Breakefield XO, Daaboul G, Gandhi R, Lapidus J, Londin E, Patel T, Raffai RL, Sood AK, Alexander RP, Das S, Laurent LC. Cell. 2019 Apr4;177(2):

Bench and Bedside


Foundational Discovery: Standardizing methods for exRNA detection in clinical samples

The discovery of extracellular RNAs (exRNAs) in biofluids has opened new avenues for translation to the clinic. ExRNAs may have both diagnostic and prognostic values for a variety of clinical conditions. The exRNA content in a particular bodily fluid is influenced by the principal organ where the fluid is made, as well as the age and health of that organ. The ease of detection makes exRNA particularly attractive in an era of increasing health care costs. However, a major problem has been determining how best to detect and accurately quantify these fluid-borne polynucleotides. Prior studies have detected a variety of different types of exRNA from a number of different types of bodily fluid, and the results were not always precisely concordant.  If exRNA are to be useful diagnostics, reproducible and concordant approaches will be critical.

Studying this problem with collaborators in five other labs from across the country, the Laurent Lab focused on ways to optimize the isolation of exRNA from each fluid. Blood plasma or blood serum, bile, urine, or liquid samples taken from the fluids of cells grown in the lab were used. Each of the participating labs used an overlapping array of techniques to isolate the different exRNA types studied. The results were published last month in Cell (1).

"Each fluid presented its own particular challenges," said senior author Louise Laurent, MD, PhD, "Because the exRNA we detect can be in a number of forms. It can be in a simple particle, such as a ribonucleoprotein or lipoprotein complex, or enclosed in a lipid capsule called an exosome. As you might expect, we found that different approaches worked best for each particle and fluid type. But what was amazing is the variation among different types of 'similar' extraction methods, and even using different brands of scientific instruments."

Read the rest of the article on page 3 of the spring newsletter.


Extraordinary Educator, Robert Resnik, MD, Retires 

This month one of the giants in the field of OB/Gyn is retiring after 44 years in our department. Robert Resnik earned his medical degree from Case Western Reserve University in 1965 and followed with a Residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Yale University in 1970. Dr. Resnik completed an NIH Research Fellowship in Perinatal Medicine at the University of Colorado in 1974, before coming to the relatively young medical school at UCSD in 1974 as an Assistant Professor and Director of Obstetrics. He served as Chair of the Department from 1983-1995. It is no understatement to say that in the 1970's thru the 1990's he was the national face of this department. Afterwards he served as Associate Dean for Admissions and Dean for Clinical Affairs.

In 2007 he became Professor Emeritus, yet he has continued to be an active clinician and teacher at Director's Place and the High Risk Obstetrics clinic. In 2017 Dr. Resnik was elected to the physician board of the American Health Council.

Dr. Resnik is an Elected Fellow ad eundem to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, United Kingdom and is a fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. He is a member of the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine.

Read the rest of the article on page 7 of the spring newsletter

The Education Mission

This issue marks the kick-off for our education related content. Each quarter we'll have a different focus, but we'll always touch on a new feature, the Teaching Objective.

Every quarter, we'll highlight a 3rd year medical student ob/gyn rotational teaching objective and the rationale behind that objective. We welcome your feedback regarding objectives or anything else you see in the educational section of the newsletter. Please send any comments to

"Students will perform a thorough obstetrics & gynecology history as a portion of general medical history." It must include:

  • Chief complaint; present illness; menstrual & obstetric history; and gynecology, sexual, family, & social history.
  • Students will demonstrate the ability to communicate with the patient with sensitivity to: Age, gender, racial & cultural background; Sexual orientation, personality & mental state, as well as her economic status.

The student will be able to communicate this information in a well-organized, written chart form.

Read the rest of the article on page 6 of the spring newsletter

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