Queen's University

Seeking answers to the mysteries of preeclampsia

A Queen's researcher is unraveling the mysteries of preeclampsia

Carolina Venditti, Artsci’07, MSc’09, confirms that there’s no cure for, only management of, the maternal clinical symptoms associated with the pregnancy disorder known as preeclampsia. By coincidence, the condition – a leading cause of mortality and morbidity among women and their babies – attracted public ­attention recently when a character in the phenomenally popular British ­television drama Downton Abbey fell victim and died.

Caroline Venditti at work in her labCaroline Venditti at work in her lab

“Our reproductive science group is multidisciplinary with several laboratories focusing their research on determining the causes and possible treatments of pregnancy disorders. Although this is a complex and delicate area of research, our group is striving to find answers, through both clinical and basic science avenues, resulting in some excellent work that’s being published.”

Venditti, a PhD candidate in Biomedical Sciences, Anatomy and Cell Biology, evaluates the vascular effects of carbon monoxide on mother and fetus during pregnancy. Her unique and specific research makes for intriguing graduate work with tremendous potential as her findings may lead to a treatment for preeclampsia.

“In my fourth year of Queen’s undergrad studies, I pursued an independent research project in reproductive sciences with Dr. Graeme Smith (Obstetrics and Gynaecology). This was the beginning of a newfound appreciation and fascination with research. From that one year of experience, I continued into a Master’s and now a PhD in the same research laboratory.”

Venditti and other grad students fuel Queen’s research engine, and they ­enrich the undergrad experience as mentors and teaching assistants. The ­Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS) program promotes excellence in graduate studies at both the Master’s and PhD levels. This matching fund opportunity ­allows donors to participate in the creation of scholarships for graduate ­students for only one-third of the cost. Under the OGS program a gift of $5,000 will be matched with an additional $10,000 from the Ontario government to fully support one $15,000 award.

Venditti says the OGS award has made her graduate experience much less stressful. The financial support has allowed her to focus on her research more fully, minimizing the need to earn money outside her academic work. Also, Venditti explains that being a recipient of an OGS has increased her confidence in her own research, knowing that external referees believe in her abilities and ideas.

After completing her doctorate, Venditti plans to continue working in the field of reproductive biology, whether that be through a post-doctoral fellowship or a position in industry.

For more information about the OGS program, please contact Meg Einarson, Artsci/PHE’87, at meg.einarson@queensu.ca.

Queen's Alumni Review, 2013 Issue #2Queen's Alumni Review
2013 Issue #2
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