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Stephen Fong, Ph.D., associate professor of chemical and life science engineering, and Tomasz Arodz, Ph.D., associate professor of computer science
Stephen Fong, Ph.D., associate professor of chemical and life science engineering, and Tomasz Arodz, Ph.D., associate professor of computer science

Faculty research on vaginal microbiomes and preterm birth published in Nature Medicine

Tomasz Arodz, Ph.D., associate professor of computer science, and Stephen Fong, Ph.D., associate professor of chemical and life science engineering, are part of an interdisciplinary team that produced two major studies published May 29, 2019, in Nature Medicine.

Nature Medicine is the highest-cited research journal in preclinical medicine.

The studies examine the vaginal microbiome conditions associated with term and preterm pregnancy and may help mitigate the risk of premature birth, especially among African American women.

In a study titled “The vaginal microbiome and preterm birth,” the team collected approximately 12,000 microbiome samples and focused on a case-matched cohort of women of predominantly African ancestry. Findings showed that among this population, women with lower levels of the vaginal bacteria Lactobacillus crispatus and higher levels of several other microbial species during pregnancy have higher risk of premature births.

In another study titled “Racioethnic diversity in the dynamics of the vaginal microbiome during pregnancy,” the team examined the vaginal microbiome among women of African, European or Hispanic ancestry who delivered at full term. The women were case-matched for race, gestational age and household income. Findings showed women of African or Hispanic ancestry who carried to term had a greater shift in the vaginal microbiome during the early stage of pregnancy.

Nature Medicine is a monthly peer-reviewed medical journal publishing both basic research and early-phase clinical research covering all aspects of medicine. The journal seeks to publish research papers that "demonstrate novel insight into disease processes, with direct evidence of the physiological relevance of the results."

Read more about these studies.