Dr. Christy-Lynn Cooke (also member of Maternal-Fetal Medicine division)
Dr. Christy-Lynn Cooke is an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology who divides her time between clinical practice as a Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialist at the Lois Hole Hospital for Women (Royal Alexandra Hospital) and laboratory research at the University of Alberta. Dr. Cooke’s background includes basic science research in pregnancy complications (PhD, University of Alberta, 2003) as well as clinical training in OB/GYN (MD, University of Calgary 2006; FRCSC, Western University, 2012). This provides a unique perspective while investigating high-risk pregnancies from both the underlying mechanisms and pathophysiology to the clinical implications in women and their children.
Cardiovascular adaptations to pregnancy are critically important for the development and maintenance of a healthy pregnancy. Failure of the maternal vasculature to modify its structure and function in pregnancy contributes to adverse pregnancy outcomes such as preeclampsia (new onset hypertension in pregnancy) and fetal growth restriction. The risk of these pregnancy complications is particularly high in women of advanced maternal age (>35 years old). However, the impact of maternal age on cardiovascular adaptations to pregnancy remains unclear. Further, it is well-established that long-term health for women and their children is impacted following complicated pregnancies, including an increased risk of cardio-metabolic disease in adulthood. Our research focuses on studying the underlying vascular and cellular mechanisms that are affected in conditions such as preeclampsia and advanced maternal age. Experiments involve examining ex vivo function of blood vessels from animal models as well as from human tissue (obtained from pregnant women at the time of cesarean section). We also collaborate together with industry to develop novel, targeted therapies to modulate maternal vascular function with the hopes of improving vascular function (and thus health outcomes) for both women and their offspring.