December 14, 2006
Contact: Larry Parker
Phone: (973) 972-7265
UMDNJ Student Presents Research on
Thyroid Disease, Pregnancy at Convention
Holmdel’s Marie Rinaldi, Mentored by
Dr. Alex Stagnaro-Green, Achieves Rare Honor
NEWARK — The 77th annual meeting of the American Thyroid Association in Phoenix saw an unusual presentation - a UMDNJ medical student speaking to the gathered doctors about a research study on which she served as lead author.
The study by Marie Rinaldi of Holmdel, a third-year student in New Jersey Medical School at UMDNJ, highlighted the importance of further education for endocrinologists and obstetrician/gynecologists, as well as other doctors, in the growing research field linking thyroid disease to potential problems with developing fetuses and subsequent newborn babies.
The study, which took over a year to complete, found that among even endocrinologists, 23% of questions about the link between thyroid function and healthy pregnancy were answered incorrectly. Among all doctors surveyed, one-third of questions were answered incorrectly. The survey involved 400 New York and New Jersey endocrinologists, obstetrician/gynecologists, internists, and family practitioners.
Studies by Dr. Alex Stagnaro-Green, UMDNJ associate dean for curriculum and faculty development - and Rinaldi’s mentor - over two decades, with others in the field, have shown that women with thyroid antibodies during the first trimester of pregnancy have double or more the risk of miscarriage; and women with an underactive thyroid have an increased risk of miscarriage, early delivery, and/or delivering a newborn with lower intelligence.
But Dr. Stagnaro-Green gives all the credit to his student, Rinaldi, for her step in furthering this line of research. “It’s very rare for a medical student to do an oral presentation at a major medical convention,” said Dr. Stagnaro-Green. “She did every step along the way - creating the survey, getting it peer-approved, and conducting it.”
Rinaldi said her father, a podiatrist, first sparked her interest in medicine. She said the difficult experiences of a close family member with thyroid disease spurred her to research in that field - and led her to seek mentorship from Dr. Stagnaro-Green, a renowned expert in thyroid function. Rinaldi noted that she examined several hundred peer-reviewed articles to prepare for the survey.
For more information about the study, or to arrange and interview with the researchers, please contact Larry Parker at (973) 972-3000.
UMDNJ is the nation's largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,500 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and its only school of public health, on five campuses. Last year, there were more than two million patient visits to UMDNJ facilities and faculty at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a mental health and addiction services network.