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Message from our Chair

Dr Linda Brubaker

Time to Strategize

As I settle in to my role at UC San Diego, I am often asked about my vision. I first presented my vision to the department over a year ago in the summer of 2020, as I was learning about UCSD during the interview process. My interactions were mainly
with leadership both inside and outside of the department selected for me during the interview process. I presented a summary of that vision during our first faculty meeting, which occurred soon after my arrival. Getting to know our department and all of its members, its culture, and its needs is a process that will not be completed overnight, but it is one in which I am immersing fully. Ultimately, all of these interactions will influence my prior impressions, and inform our collective departmental vision.

Our department will spend the rest of the academic year developing a strategic plan, similar to planning occurring in the Dean’s office and around the School of Medicine.  This plan will be our vision for the next 5 years and will inform our path forward. The process for strategic planning will start at the division level and conclude after a faculty-wide retreat in late winter. I have to thank our outstanding executive team for organizing this effort. A crucial part of our strategic plan will be a re-evaluation of how we demonstrate our commitment to our tripartite mission: excellence in research, clinical care, and education.  We have an outstanding world-class faculty training the next generation of leaders in our field. Through my interviews with faculty, I’ve come to know the pride felt by all of the faculty in the research and education missions, as
well as the world-class clinical care. To that end, we have created a Tripartite Working Group, which will make recommendations about equating the importance of these academic missions in our department. Developing our plan moving forward will highlight all of these areas equally. 

We’ve also made a few changes that I’d like to highlight.  After some conversations with our team, the desire to provide ongoing learning opportunities for faculty became clear. This month we will introduce the pilot of our Master Surgeon Program. Interested faculty with upcoming challenging surgical cases can schedule these with experts from various divisions in our department. Additionally, a common theme thus far is of our potential to improve marketing. We have developed a close relationship with the marketing office and have developed a Media and Marketing Committee within our department. Our goal is to increase the visibility of the excellent work done here, while we continue to be leaders in our region and worldwide.

Finally, in this edition of Fimbria, we highlight several faculty accomplishments. Congratulations to all those who were successful in obtaining new research funding. Please see the details in the Funding News on page 2. Congratulations to Dr. Maureen Ries for accepting the role of the new Associate Residency Program Director, and thank you, Dr. Ramez Eskander for your contributions while serving in this role.

Thank you!

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

Cynthia Gyamfi- Bannerman, MD                                                                                                                                                       Professor and Chair                                                                                                                                                             Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences

​Department Highlights

Congratulations - 

Sheila Mody, MD who was awarded the Great Catch/Speak Up Award by the UC San Diego Patient Safety Committee

Priya Pantham, PhD of the Cneter for Perinatal Discover is one of only two recipients of Preeclampsia Foundation Canada's 2021 Vision Grant

Our faculty continues to succesfully compete for extramurl funding to continue their research:

  • Richard Bryan McCosh, PhD brings in a new K99 award: Investigation of brainstem neurons in the regulation of gonadotropin secretion
  • Priya Pantham, PhD successfully converted her K99 award to R00 status: Extracellular vesicles as a link between placental and renal dusfunction in preeclampsia
  • Kelly Breen Church, PhD celebrates a new R01 grant entitled Regulation of gonadotropin secretion during undernutrition by a brainstem-hypothalamic neural pathway
  • Marianna Alperin, MD, was awarded a new R01, Pathways underlying recovery of injured urethral sphincter and a novel regenerative biomaterial intervention
  • Cynthia Gyamfi-Bannerman, MD was also awarded a new R01, Stress phenotypes and preterm birth: Immune and energetic cellular dysregulation and the preventive effect of social support 

Welcome -

New Fellows:

    • Complex Family Planning - Danielle Vachon, MD
    • Female Pelvic Medicine - Ghansh Yadavbeen, MD 
    • Gynecologic Oncology - Breana Hill , MD
    • Maternal Fetal Medicine - Dana Canfield, MD 
    • Reproductive Endocrinology - Mayowa Dayo, MD

New Faculty

Kathleen Fisch, PhD
is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, in the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine. She holds a B.A. in Integrative Biology from UC Berkeley and a Ph.D. in Ecology with a focus on population genetics from UC Davis. Dr. Fisch completed postdoctoral fellowships at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research and The Scripps Research Institute in population genetics and computational genomics.

Audra R. Meadows, MD, MPH
is a birth optimizer and health equity champion.  She cares for women before, during and after pregnancy to ensure positive pregnancy and birth experiences. As an Obstetrician/Gynecologist and maternal health advocate, Dr. Meadows actively investigates strategies to optimize infant and maternal outcomes and to eliminate racial inequities associated with birth. For more than 15 years, she has been passionate about achieving health equity and creating value in clinical practice.

Priya Pantham, PhD
completed her PhD in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. She undertook her postdoctoral training at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and was an Institute for Genomic Biology Fellow at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Pantham's research background is in applying high throughout multi-omics approaches to investigate placental function in obstetric disorders such as preeclampsia, preterm birth, and intrauterine growth restriction. In her currently funded K99/R00 project (NIH/NICHD), she is investigating extracellular vesicles (EVs) as a link between placental and renal dysfunction in preeclampsia. She uses a combination of molecular techniques including Next Generation Sequencing and computational and bioinformatic methods to conduct her research.

Jason O. Heaton, MD
is a native of Shelbyville Indiana. He completed his undergraduate degree at DePauw University followed by his
medical degree at Indiana University School of Medicine on a Navy scholarship. He nished twenty-three years
of military service as a Navy obstetrician and gynecologist on 1 October 2021. His Naval career began with his OBGYN residency at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, VA. He was then assigned to the National Capital Consortium in Bethesda, MD where he served as faculty at the Uniformed Services University and on-site medical student clerkship director.

Michael E. Cardenas, MD
is a clinical instructor who provides comprehensive prenatal care, labor and delivery care, and postpartum care. He
also has a special interest in helping couples who are experiencing issues with infertility. He is part of the hospitalist and generalist team that cares for patients at UC San Diego Health's Hillcrest and Jacobs Medical Center locations.

  Read more on pages 4 and 5

Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences Research Retreat

For the eleventh year in a row, our department held our research retreat on September 8. 

The symposium was organized by Pamela Mellon, PhD, Vice-Chair for Research, with assistance from Louise Laurent MD, PhD, Vice-Chair for Translational Research, and Linda Brubaker, MD, Interim Chair. This tour-de-force of research strength in Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences presented ten department faculty  speakers giving impressive talks about their research programs.

The retreat featured a nice balance of presentations of basic, translational, and clinical research. For the second year, the retreat was held on Zoom to conform to the pandemic restrictions. Overall, the format worked very well. Numerous questions followed each talk, and substantial interest was apparent from our department’s faculty, sta, and trainees. More than 80 attended and provided robust discussion and interaction. However, we missed our traditional opportunity to network and socialize in person during the coee breaks and the post-retreat wine and cheese.

Read more on pages 7