Duke University has been approved as a Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units (MFMU) Network clinical center. The MFMU network was established in 1986 by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) in response to the growing need for well-designed clinical trials in MFM. Division Chief of MFM in Duke’s Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Brenna Hughes, MD, MSc, is principal investigator for the clinical center, and MFM specialist Geeta Swamy, MD, is alternate-PI. Jennifer Ferrara, RN, BSN, is nurse coordinator.
The MFMU Network's research entities, originally comprised of seven clinical centers and a data coordinating center, were selected to participate collaboratively in common protocols to conduct clinical trials, the first of which involved post-term complications, preterm labor and preeclampsia prevention, according to the MFMU.
The major aims of the MFMU Network are to:
- Reduce the rates of preterm birth, fetal growth abnormalities, newborn morbidity and maternal complications of pregnancy
- Evaluate maternal and fetal interventions for efficacy, safety and cost-effectiveness
According to the MFMU website, the network focuses on clinical questions in maternal-fetal medicine and obstetrics, particularly with respect to the continuing problem of preterm birth. The network provides an infrastructure to conduct multiple large studies simultaneously, in both a cost-effective and timely manner. The participating clinical centers cover over 160,000 deliveries a year and are racially, ethnically and geographically diverse, allowing study results to be generalizable to the U.S. population. Results from MFMU Network studies have impacted clinical practice, both by finding treatments that prevent poor pregnancy outcomes and by stopping ineffective, costly and potentially harmful therapies.
More than 50 randomized clinical trials, cohort studies and registries have been completed or are in progress. Research at Duke will begin April 1.
Pictured above, left to right: Dr. Brenna Hughes, Dr. Geeta Swamy and nurse coordinator Jennifer Ferrara.