Carmen Tchokonthé Monthé-Drèze, MD

Carmen Tchokonthe Monthe-DrezeCarmen Tchokonthé Monthé-Drèze, MD
Instructor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Mentor: Sarbattama Sen, MD, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School; Assistant of Pediatrics, Brigham and Women’s Hospital 

Department Chair: Terrie E. Inder, MBChB, MD, Mary Ellen Avery Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, Chair, Department of Pediatric Newborn Medicine Brigham and Women’s Hospital 

Project Title: “Placental Function, Pro-Resolving Lipid Mediators and Developmental Programming of Adiposity”

Project Description: Maternal obesity in pregnancy program the offspring to increased risk for metabolic syndrome and obesity through the life course, a vicious cycle leading to transmission to subsequent generations. The placenta is a programming agent of adult health and disease, yet, little is known on the modifiable placental mechanisms that underpin transgenerational obesity. With the support from the DICP Faculty Fellowship Award, from July 1st, 2021 to June 30th 2023, I will conduct for the first time, a comprehensive characterization of placental SPM and their role in the metabolic programming of neonatal adiposity within the context of maternal obesity. Using placenta samples from a biorepository of an observational study of maternal-child dyads, I will examine associations of pre-pregnancy body mass index with placental concentrations of LC-PUFA and their SPM metabolites, measured using targeted lipidomics approach in Dr. Maddipati’s Lipidomic Core facility by UHPLC-MS. I will investigate associations of placental SPM concentrations with neonatal growth and adiposity. Finally, I will evaluate the metabolic role of placental SPM in neonatal growth and adiposity accrual. A comprehensive metabolic evaluation on placenta specimens will be performed using a novel multiplex platform (Nanostring) at the Molecular Genetics Core at Boston Children’s Hospital. I will perform statistical analyses to evaluate the role of placental SPM as mediators and effect modifiers in the associations of maternal obesity with placental metabolism and neonatal adiposity. In addition to fulfilling the requirements and obligations set forth by the DICP Faculty Fellowship Program, I will continue to participate in relevant educational and training opportunities, career development activities, present at scientific meetings, write and publish the resulting work, and meet with my mentor, collaborators, and department chair for additional guidance and mentorship during this period.

Biography: Dr. Monthé-Drèze is a Neonatologist and researcher at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the Department of Pediatric Newborn Medicine, and an Instructor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. She received her MD degree from Albert Einstein College of Medicine and completed her pediatric residency at the Harvard Boston Combined Residency Program. She served as a Neonatal ICU Hospitalist for two years before completing her fellowship at the Harvard Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine program, where she served as Chief Fellow. Throughout her medical training to become a neonatologist, Dr. Monthé-Drèze appreciated how maternal health in pregnancy could impact offspring health throughout its life course. Her academic focus therefore has evolved to elucidate early (prenatal) life modifiable determinants of child outcomes. Considering the rising prevalence of childhood obesity – and its associated long-term health burden throughout the life course – Dr. Monthé-Drèze’s research seeks to provide novel insights onto its developmental origins and inform future intervention studies. While postnatal lifestyle is the most immediate cause of obesity, the influence of the maternal in-utero environment, specifically maternal obesity, is a significant contributor in the intergenerational vicious cycle of obesity. However, specific mediators of these long-term effects and the likely developmental programming mechanisms through which they operate remain unclear. Her research therefore seeks to characterize the underpinnings of transgenerational obesity through 1) Characterizing the role of maternal obesity and obesity-related inflammation on the development of (a) offspring obesity and (b) other related childhood outcomes which have been linked to childhood obesity such as cognition and behavior; 2) Investigating whether maternal diet and specific nutrient intakes during pregnancy have effects on offspring growth and development; 3) Elucidating whether exposure to maternal obesity in-utero may alter neurobiological processes that regulate appetite and hedonic eating behaviors in the offspring. The Diversity Inclusion and Community Partnership Faculty Fellowship Award will give Dr. Monthé-Drèze the opportunity to expand her research into the role of specialized anti-inflammatory mediators in the developmental programming of adiposity. Dr. Monthé-Drèze aspires through her research to directly inform trials in pregnancy specifically targeted for the growing population of women with obesity, and which may have the potential to positively impact the health of the next generation.