Dr. Heath Burkin’s research is focused on signaling pathways in the pregnant uterus. She has been involved in a variety of research topics related to understanding fertility and fetal, infant and child health problems at the molecular level during a career spanning approximately 10 years. This topic is extremely relevant today when 12.8% of births in the United States are premature. Since preterm birth is the leading cause of infant morbidity and mortality, it is distressing that this number is so much higher than in other developed countries.
Her research is focused on signaling pathways activated by stretch in human myometrium. An estimated 10% of preterm births can be attributed to abnormal uterine distension and mechanical forces regulate myometrial gene expression, cell growth, and contractility. Further defining the signaling pathways that regulate stretch-induced activation of the human myometrium will have important implications for the treatment of preterm labor.