Investigating pregnancy termination in an animal model

Background: Approximately 20% of all pregnancies in the U.S. end in abortion. The health implications of abortion on women continues to be a source of heated debate. Various health concerns have been reported, short- and long-term. These include both physiological (e.g. increased risk of cancer) and psychological effects (e.g. increased risk of mood disorders (including depression), anxiety, substance abuse, and suicide) on women who have undergone an abortion. 

Given the seriousness of the potential mental health and physical consequences, and the difficulty of treating them if they occur, it is necessary to appropriately investigate these potential links to the abortion procedure. Unlike many other situations in medicine, there has not been any objective pre-clinical investigation of the potential serious physiological consequences of the termination of a viable pregnancy. Given the complex changes in the body associated with pregnancy, it is impossible to expect that terminating a viable pregnancy is without its consequences. 

Goal of our project: While there are clear differences between animals and humans, there are many similarities in the physiology, neurology, neurophysiology and the resulting behaviors (e.g. in stress). Animal models provide the scientist with a comparative approach to address various questions (e.g. depression, schizophrenia, etc.), at various levels (e.g. behavioral, neurophysiological, molecular, etc.), in a significantly more controlled environment, independently of potential social, moral and other influences. Thus, the goal of this project is to investigate drug-induced abortion from various angles in an animal model (a laboratory rat).

Please see links below for specific research topics pertaining to this project: