Faculty

Dr. Sandra T Davidge

Professor, WCHRI Director

Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology

Division of Reproductive Sciences

About Me

Dr. Sandy Davidge is the Executive Director of the Women and Children’s Health Research Institute (WCHRI), a Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) in Maternal and Perinatal Cardiovascular Health, a Professor in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Physiology at the University of Alberta, and a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences (CAHS).

Place of Graduation: University of Vermont, 1993

Post-doctoral Training: Magee Womens Research Institute; University of Pittsburgh, 1993-1996

Research Interests: Pregnancy Complications, Preeclampsia, Aging, Developmental Origins of Cardiovascular Disease

Distinction: Canada Research Chair Tier 1 in Maternal and Perinatal Cardiovascular Health, Government of Canada, 2014-2021

Research

Research Focus & Overview

The Davidge laboratory studies cardiovascular physiology with a specific interest in the area of women’s, maternal and perinatal cardiovascular health. We investigate potential mediators for vascular endothelial cell dysfunction in both aging and estrogen deficiency as well as in the pregnancy complication, preeclampsia. Moreover, we combine our expertise in aging and pregnancy complications to study the long term cardiovascular effects for offspring born from an adverse intrauterine environment (also known as developmental origins of disease).

Preeclampsia

Studies include understanding mechanisms for normal cardiovascular adaptations of pregnancy as well as mechanisms for impaired vascular responses in women with preeclampsia, a pregnancy disorder characterized by hypertension and proteinuria. This work addresses the regulation of vascular tone by factors such as nitric oxide and matrix metalloproteinase. Moreover, we study the effect of oxidative stress on endothelial cell function as a potential mechanism for vascular dysfunction in women with preeclampsia.

Effects of Maternal Aging on Vascular Function

Another area of research for this laboratory is studying the impact of aging on the vasculature with a specific interest for the action of sex steroids on vascular function.  Moreover,  the age at which women deliver their first child has increased steadily. In Canada, births occurring among women aged 35 years and older account for over 18% of total live births. Childbirth at an advanced maternal age (≥35 years) has a myriad of clinical ramifications, including increased risk of preeclampsia and intrauterine growth restriction. Children born from a suboptimal intrauterine environment are at a greater risk of cardiovascular morbidities later in life. Our laboratory is studying the consequences of maternal aging on vascular function with interests in both maternal and offspring health.

Fetal Programming of Cardiovascular Disease

Complications in pregnancy may also influence cardiovascular health in the offspring. Numerous epidemiological studies have determined an association between a poor uterine environment (usually reflected by low birth weight) and the occurrence of cardiovascular diseases later in life. It is likely that adaptive responses to fetal/neonatal environmental stresses lead to permanent changes that negatively influence metabolic and cardiovascular health in adult life. However, the mechanisms underlying these changes are not known. Our laboratory assesses mechanisms for altered cardiovascular responses in pregnancies from an adverse maternal environment as well as assessing the offspring from these pregnancies in various life stages (fetal, neonatal, young and aged adults).

Trainees

The Davidge laboratory is committed to the training of undergraduate and graduate students as well as post-doctoral fellows with an average of 8-10 trainees in the laboratory.

Funding Support

This research is supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions and the Women and Children’s Health Research Institute, through the generous support of the Stollery Children's Hospital Foundation and the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation.

Techniques
• Vascular function studies using myography are conducted on isolated small arteries from our various animal models. 
• Analysis of the expression of various enzymes and receptors using Western blot and Immunohistochemistry techniques. 
• Cell cultures of endothelial and smooth muscle cells to assess cellular mechanisms. 

Team Members

Lab Personnel
Research Associate
Jude Morton, PhD
jude@ualberta.ca
t. 780.492.8562
f. 780.492.1308

Technicians
Anita Quon
aquon@ualberta.ca

Raven Kirschenman
raven@ualberta.ca

t. 780.492.8562
f. 780.492.1308