Filoteia Popescu ’19 Publishes Groundbreaking Research in International Peer-Reviewed Journal

Filoteia Popescu, a Rhodes junior with a double major in biochemistry and molecular biology and neuroscience, has published an article proposing a new procedure for evaluating women who experience recurrent pregnancy loss. She published the article with Rhodes biology professor Dr. Carolyn Jaslow and Dr. William Kutteh of Fertility Associates of Memphis in the March 12 issue of Human Reproduction, which is a leading international peer-reviewed scientific journal. 

The title of the article is “Recurrent Pregnancy Loss Evaluation Combined With 24-Chromosome Microarray of Miscarriage Tissue Provides a Probable or Definite Cause of Pregnancy Loss In Over 90% of Patients.”  Research participants included 100 women with recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL) seen in a private fertility clinic. All 100 women had two or more pregnancy losses, a complete evaluation for RPL as defined by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, and miscarriage tissue evaluated by 24-chromosome microarray analysis after their second or subsequent miscarriage.

Popescu’s research role included interpretation, analysis, and synthesis of data, the original draft of the article, manuscript review and editing, and critical discussion. “That an undergraduate is the first author on this type of publication is extraordinary,” says Jaslow. “I think it is likely that this article will change the testing procedures for women seeking help for RPL in fertility clinics throughout the world.”

RPL is frustrating for physicians to treat, according to Popescu, and the recommended workup could only identify probable causes for RPL about half the time. The procedure that she and her collaborators have proposed involves adding the 24-chromosome microarray analysis as the first step to the standard RPL testing procedure.

“This step should not only allow physicians to identify a definite or probable cause for pregnancy loss in more than 90% of patients, but it will also provide substantial savings in overall healthcare costs,” says Popescu. “It also is emotionally devastating for couples to experience recurrent pregnancy loss, and for some patients, knowing the cause for a loss may provide comfort. The proposed procedure would provide patients with those answers in a cost-efficient and time-efficient manner. I am thrilled that this article has the potential to contribute to new therapies and policies that can help future couples. It is every pre-medical student’s dream to have an opportunity like this, and I am just so thankful to Dr. Kutteh and Dr. Jaslow for this experience.”  

Kutteh directs the Recurrent Pregnancy Loss Center at Fertility Associates of Memphis, one of the world’s leading centers for the study of RPL.  They have collaborated with Jaslow and students from Rhodes since 2005, resulting in several publications in the field of reproductive biology.  In 2016, Popescu began doing research with Fertility Associates of Memphis, and in July 2017, she presented this research at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology’s international scientific meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.