Sandra Davidge (PhD, FCAHS, University of Vermont)

ProfessorDavidge
Executive Director, Women and Children’s Health Research Institute
Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) in Maternal and Perinatal Cardiovascular Health

Professor, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology
Adjunct Professor, Department of Physiology

Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry
232 Heritage Medical Research Centre
University of Alberta
Edmonton, AB T6G 2S2

Tel: 780 492-1864 (office)
Tel: 780 492-8562 (lab)

sandra.davidge@ualberta.ca


Profile

Place of Graduation: PhD, FCAHS; University of Vermont, 1993
Post-doctoral Training: Magee-Womens Research Institute; University of Pittsburgh, 93-96’
Research Interests: Pregnancy Complications, Preeclampsia, Aging, Developmental Origins of Cardiovascular Disease
Distinction:
Canada Research Chair Tier 1 in Women’s Cardiovascular Health, Government of Canada, 2007-2014         Canada Research Chair Tier 1 in Maternal and Perinatal Cardiovascular Health, present

Lab Personnel
Research Associate:
Jude Morton, PhD
jude@ualberta.ca
Tel:  780 492-8562
Fax: 780 492-1308

Technician:
Anita Quon
aquon@ualberta.ca 
Tel:  780 492-8562
Fax: 780 492-1308


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.

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.