That we might live.
The only time my life has ever been in mortal danger was when I was diagnosed with preeclampsia. Fortunately, it was late in pregnancy and my baby was fully cooked, no chance of prematurity. But I was pumped full of magnesium sulfate, the mysterious wonder drug that staves off seizures. It’s also a muscle relaxant, however, which meant I was confined to the birthing bed and when the staff joyfully proclaimed “It’s a girl!” all my unfocused eyes could see was a blurry, squalling blob. Despite the traumatic entrance, all turned out well for both us.
Naturally, when John Aurelio’s article on preeclampsia was sent to me, I read it with particular interest. It helped that it came with the recommendation of former New York Times science editor Cornelia Dean ’69. She had been John’s nonfiction seminar professor and was highly impressed with his final project. Rightly so: John’s piece is a taut examination of a disorder about which little is known, is unique to humans, and which causes an estimated 76,000 maternal and 500,000 infant deaths worldwide each year, making it a leading cause of pregnancy-related death.
When you read numbers like those and allow yourself to feel the grief and loss that accompany deaths that may be preventable, you can’t help but get behind a push for more translational research at Brown. What we need now—for lung disease (another leading killer worldwide), for diseases of aging that contribute to disability and infirmity, for cancer—are better diagnostics, treatments, and cures, all of which can be generated when effort is placed on translating basic discoveries into human applications. In this issue you’ll read about Dean Elias’s strategic plan, which will increase this type of research at Brown. It’s a move whose time has come, for Alpert Medical School and for human health.