Active Projects 

  • Characterization of Iron Regulatory Hormone Erythroferrone During Pregnancy 
    Study Co-Principal Investigators: Kimberly O'Brien, PhD and Elizabeta Nemeth, PhD
    Specific Aims:
    Maternal iron deficiency increases the risk of adverse birth outcomes and inadequate neonatal iron endowment, which may lead to irreversible adverse effects on fetal brain development. During pregnancy, adaptations to iron homeostasis occur due to increased maternal, neonatal and placental iron demands, Maternal iron absorption and release from stores is regulated in response to iron demands via regulatory hormones erythropoietin, hepcidin and erythroferrone. While data on erythropoietin and hepcidin during pregnancy exist, no data on erythroferrone in human pregnancies exist due to previous lack of validated human assay. Therefore, the study aims to characterize erythroferrone during pregnancy and to assess its utility as an indicator of iron status.
    Funded by: NIH-NICHD
  • Genetics of Iron Absorption (FeGenes) 
    Study Co-Principal Investigators:Kimberly O'Brien, PhD and Zhenglong Gu, PhD
    Specific Aims:
    The FeGenes study stands for iron(Fe) Genes in East Asians and Northern Europeans study. This study will take a multidisciplinary approach to study genetic variations in genes that control Fe metabolism and utilization in order to shed light on the genetic basis of population differences in Fe metabolism and disease susceptibility and to inform population-specific dietary Fe intake recommendations with the long-term goal of minimizing the risk of chronic diseases. More specifically, we will employ in vivo approach using stable iron isotope method to measure iron absorption directly and characterize the genetic makeup by genotyping array.
    Study Population: 250 East Asians and 250 Northern Europeans
    Funded by: NIH-NIDDK

Recently Completed Projects

O'Brien Lab Research Opportunities

  • Determinants of Neonatal Iron Homeostasis in Women Carrying Multiples
    Study Co-Principal Investigators:Eva Pressman, MD; Ronnie Guillet MD, PhD; and Elizabeth Cooper, CNM,RD
    Specific Aims:
    1. To learn more about iron status in women having twins and triplets and to see how maternal iron status influences the amount of iron that is present in babies at birth
    2. Maternal weight gain, hematological measures, Fe status indicators and serum hepcidin were longitudinally assessed across pregnancy in women carrying multiples during routine blood testing for alpha-feroprotein.
    3. Cord blood were obtained from each neonate at delivery.
    4. Inflammatory markers (CRP IL-6) were measured in all maternal and cord blood samples and related to outcomes.
    Study Population: 140 pregnant adolescents (age 11-18 y) and their newborn infants
    Funded by: Gerber Foundation
  • Vitamin D: Status Impacts Inflammation and Risk of Infections During Pregnancy
    Principal Investigator: Kimberly O'Brien
    Funded by: USDA-NRI