Australasia Extracellular Vesicles Conference31 January - 2 February, 2017 Lorne, Vic

Assistant Professor Ramkumar Menon

Dr. Ramkumar Menon, Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston, Texas, USA, has been working in the area of Perinatal Biology and Reproductive Immunology for the past 25 years to understand the pathways and mechanisms of spontaneous preterm birth (PTB) and preterm prelabor rupture of the membranes (pPROM). Dr. Menon received his undergraduate degree (B.Sc.) in Medical Laboratory Technology from The University of Kerala, India (1988), post graduate degree in Microbiology and Reproductive Immunology from Wright State University in Dayton, OH (1993) and his PhD in Perinatal Genetic Epidemiology from Arhus University in Denmark (2007). Earlier in his career, Dr. Menon, developed an in vitro organ explant system to determine the response of human fetal membranes in response to various risk factors of PTB and pPROM. This model and its variations are now widely used to understand fetal immune and endocrine responses by many investigators around the globe. Dr. Menon was appointed as the first Director of The Perinatal Research Center at Centennial Women’s Hospital in Nashville, TN and served as its director until his academic appointment at UTMB in 2011. As a perinatal genetic epidemiologist, Dr. Menon established Nashville Birth Cohort, a biobank where over 3500 subjects were enrolled. Using this biobank/tissue bank, Dr. Menon has conducted extensive perinatal genetic epidemiologic studies and published reports determining genetic predisposition and interaction between genes and environment associated with PTB and pPROM. The dynamic changes in the biomarker profile due to such interactions have identified distinct pathophysiologic pathways of preterm labor between African Americans and Caucasians. Dr. Menon’s laboratory has recently determined a new mechanistic pathways leading to human parturition due to telomere dependent and mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) mediated aging of fetal tissues. His work highlights how aging of fetal membranes generate specific signals and how they are propagated between feto-maternal tissues via exosomes. This novel signaling mechanism by exosomes is expected to contribute immensely to our understanding of parturition process at term and preterm.

Dr. Menon is one of the founding directors of preterm birth international collaborative (PREBIC), a not for profit organization, aimed to build coalition of researchers to study PTB and pPROM. This organization is supported by Word Health Organization (WHO). He served as PREBIC president between 2011-2014. As an advisor to World Health Organization’s reproductive health research branch, Dr. Menon co-authored the very first report on the Global Preterm Birth Rate. Dr. Menon has received multitudes of awards, and currently mentoring graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and training maternal-fetal medicine fellows. He has presented his research topics at over 100 national and international venues. Dr. Menon has published over 165 peer-reviewed papers, 26 review articles and 10 book chapters, all of which are on preterm birth and pPROM.