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Obstetrics and gynecology researcher named as finalist in clinical research awards

A study led by Sarah Horvath, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Penn State College of Medicine, that investigated Rh sensitization treatment in pregnancy was selected as a finalist in the Top 10 Clinical Research Achievement Awards by the Clinical Research Forum.

Portrait of Sarah Horvath, MD, from the neck up, smiling.

Sarah Horvath, MD

Horvath’s study was identified as ranking among the best of a large and competitive field of nominations, according to the organization.

Horvath said that placing as a finalist in the nationwide competition sends a clear message about the importance of research in reproductive health and pregnancy, which is historically – and currently – underrepresented.

“We have so many clinical practices without an adequate evidence base and provide too much care based on ‘expert opinion,’” she said. “To revisit old clinical conundrums using new techniques and be able to update standards of care for pregnant patients is really crucial.”

The nominated study was a collaboration between Penn State and the University of Pennsylvania. The study found that Rh sensitization, a special immune treatment, may not be necessary until after the first trimester of pregnancy. It was published in JAMA last fall.

The researchers have said that these results could change pregnancy care guidelines and possibly close global health equity gaps.

Horvath is now looking to further this Rh sensitization research, bolstered by the support of an innovative multidisciplinary study team that includes a health economist, an implementation science expert and a transfusion medicine specialist.

“I’m so proud of my team,” Horvath said. “Multidisciplinary work is really the most rewarding to approach research. The depth of discovery and richness of data are so much better when your team is approaching it from different perspectives.”

Horvath and her team have applied for a grant from the National Institutes of Health to continue their work in Rh sensitization and the use of Rh immunoglobulin in early pregnancy, with the hope that they will continue to find evidence that will guide those practices in the U.S. and across the globe.

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