Jennifer B Gilner
Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology

My specific area of research interest is in understanding mechanisms of preterm birth. Preterm birth is the leading cause of neonatal morbidity and mortality worldwide, yet strategies to detect and effectively prevent preterm birth are limited. Defects in particular immune system functions have been implicated in several pregnancy disease states. 

Current Research Interests

A normally functioning maternal immune system is critical to a healthy pregnancy, since there are necessary transitions in immune reactivity as the conceptus invades, inhabits, then evacuates the uterus. To sustain full term gestation, the maternal immune system must become tolerant to foreign fetal antigens, allowing growth and development of the semi-allogeneic fetus. Breakdown in maternal-fetal tolerance has been linked to spontaneous preterm delivery, and the molecular biomarkers are notably distinct from the markers of infection-based inflammation. In comparable allogeneic scenarios, such as organ transplantation or cancer micrometastasis, the principal cell population in the maintenance of immune tolerance is T regulatory cells (Tregs). Thus, we hypothesize that T regulatory cell dysfunction is a mechanism of disease in the subset of preterm births marked by a maternal anti-fetal rejection phenotype.

Current Appointments & Affiliations

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