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Categories:  Campus, Faculty, Research

Search for answers to why pregnancies fail

The Researcher of the Year award recognizes 10 UIC scientists who are advancing knowledge in their fields. The Distinguished Researcher Award honors five researchers with a record of outstanding achievement. The Rising Star Award honors early career researchers who show promise as future leaders.

 

Julienne Rutherford

Julienne Rutherford: “Our research will determine how the womb in which a female develops affects the womb she will provide to her own offspring.” Photo: Mark Mershon/College of Nursing

Julienne Rutherford believes the marmoset monkey may hold the key to reducing stillbirths in human mothers.

The squirrel-sized marmoset, which achieves sexual maturity at 15 months, often has multiple births, usually twins and triplets.

Adult females who were born into triplet litters get pregnant as often as twin females, but they lose three times as many fetuses — with nearly half the losses during labor and delivery, said Rutherford, assistant professor of women, child and family health science in the College of Nursing and a Researcher of the Year Rising Star.

In her latest study, funded by an RO1 grant from the National Institutes of Health, Rutherford will track the growth and development of the female marmoset reproductive system from birth to first pregnancy spanning three generations: the pregnant females carrying daughters; the daughters themselves; and the offspring those daughters produce.

“The health of adults is rooted in developmental events that occur early in life, even as far back as the fetal period,” Rutherford said. “Our research will determine how the womb in which a female develops affects the womb she will provide to her own offspring.”

In the four years since she began her tenure-track appointment at UIC, Rutherford has produced 14 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters. She co-edited the book, Building Babies: Primate Development in Proximate and Ultimate Perspective.

Rutherford was a BIRCWH (Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health) scholar. She received a Leadership Fellowship from the American Anthropological Association and the American Society of Primatologists’ inaugural Legacy Award for her contributions as an early career researcher.