About Maureen Keller-Wood
Maureen Keller-Wood, Ph.D., is the associate dean for research and graduate education and professor of pharmacodynamics. She holds the CVS/Pharmacy, Inc. professorship. Dr. Keller-Wood’s overall research interest is the physiologic adaptations to pregnancy and effects of maternal physiology on fetal maturation and growth. Her current research focuses on understanding the mechanism for increased stillbirth and neonatal mortality in pregnancies complicated by maternal hypercortisolemia and altered maternal and fetal glucose metabolism. She received her Ph.D. in endocrinology from the University of California, San Francisco, in 1982 and her Bachelor of Arts in biochemistry from Vassar College in 1977.
Dr. Keller-Wood’s overall research interest is the physiologic adaptations to pregnancy and effects of maternal physiology on fetal maturation and growth. Her areas of current interest are:
The laboratory has a long standing interest in the effects of the adrenal hormone cortisol. Secretion of cortisol is increased in pregnancy, and this hormone mediates important adaptive physiologic effects necessary for regulating blood glucose, blood pressure, fluid and electrolyte excretion, appetite, and mood. The research team is interested in the role of the normal increase in cortisol and its action in both the mother and in the fetus, as well as the adverse effects that occur when there are excess increases in maternal cortisol in pregnancy, as occurs with maternal stress.
A major current focus of the laboratory is the adverse effects of maternal cortisol on fetal and neonatal cardiac health and metabolism. Excess maternal cortisol secretion in late gestation is associated with an increased risk of stillbirth. Researchers are using a combination of techniques to determine the effects of cortisol on fetal cardiac maturation and on function during labor and delivery. These include in vivo techniques such as telemetry to continuously monitor fetal ECG and arterial pressure during labor and delivery, transcriptomic methods to determine altered expression of genes as a result of pre-term cortisol exposure, biochemical techniques to assess mitochondrial function, and metabolomic techniques to assess shifts in metabolism. These studies include collaborations with Drs. Matthew Merritt, Jennifer Co-Vu, and Stephanie Wohlgemuth at UF, as well as Dr. Art Edison at UGa. In collaboration with Dr. Peter Stacpoole, the research is also testing the efficacy of treatment with dicholoracetate in ameliorating adverse events during labor and delivery.
Her research team recently has collaborated with Drs. Charles Wood, Eric Triplett and Kelly RIce to examine the effects of maternal stress on the maternal microbiome, and effects of altered maternal bacterial populations on fetal and neonatal health.
She has also collaborated with Dr. Kirk Conrad and others on a grant to investigate the cardiorenal adaptions to pregnancy in women who become pregnant through assisted reproductive technologies (ART). ART has been associated with increases in maternal cardiorenal disease and in the incidence of small for gestation infants. She served as PI of the analytic core for this P01 which performed analysis of plasma, serum and urine to determine endocrine, electrolyte and other endpoints.