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SMFM 2024 Pregnancy Meeting

Championing Maternal Health: Nobel Prize-Winning Discoveries Transforming Preeclampsia

Faculty Profiles:

Allyson Felix, OLY

US Olympian,
Co-Founder & President, Saysh

Allyson Felix reigns as the most decorated American Track & Field Olympian of all time. She officially retired from her competitive running career in the summer of 2022, with a mind-blowing, thirty-one global medals at the Olympics and World Championships, and titles as both a World Record Holder and a Master’s World Record Holder.

In 2020, Felix broke records after winning her bronze and gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics - her fifth and final Olympic games. She continued to make history during the games, by sporting racing spikes created by her company – lifestyle and footwear brand, Saysh – becoming the first Track & Field athlete to do so. Publicly launched post Games in June 2021, Saysh not only aims to create an encouraging and supportive community for women, but it also designs and manufactures athletic-inspired footwear made for and by women, unlike most brands, whose shoes are created based off of men’s feet and footwear. Running in her own spikes on the largest stage in the world, Felix exemplified that she is about more than just medals – she was running for change, equity and acceptance for women and girls everywhere.  In keeping with its mission to empower and serve women, Saysh sought out women-led, women-funded partners for the brand’s recent Series A fundraising round, which brought in $8 million and included the Gap Inc.-owned Athleta brand. Current products include the Saysh One, the Saysh Two and the Scarf by Saysh.

Off the track, Felix is a fierce advocate for maternity rights for all women. In 2019, she wrote an opinion piece for The New York Times that called out Nike, her former sponsor, for not providing guaranteed protections for pregnant athletes and new moms. (Felix gave birth to her daughter Camryn in 2018.) The public reaction to the piece put pregnancy discrimination in athletics in the spotlight, and the practice was heavily criticized. More female athletes came to Felix’s side, offering up their stories. During the 2020 Olympics, Felix alongside her new sponsor Athleta, created the Power of She Fund: Child Care Grant – a fund to assist mom-athletes with childcare while competing at the games.

Melissa J. Moore, Ph.D.

Chief Scientific Officer Emeritus, Moderna, Professor & Entrepreneur

Moore is a biochemist and molecular biologist recognized for her work in eukaryotic RNA processing and metabolism. Moore was born and raised in New Market, Virginia. She graduated from the College of William and Mary in 1984 with a BS in Chemistry and Biology, and earned her PhD in Biological Chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1989. Following a Helen Hay Whitney Postdoctoral Fellowship at the MIT Center for Cancer Research, Moore joined the Brandeis University faculty in 1994, where she was named a Searle Scholar and Packard Fellow. In 2007, Moore moved to the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS), where she served as a founding co-director of the RNA Therapeutics Institute and held the Eleanor Eustis Farrington Chair of Cancer Research. In 2011, Moore received the ASBMB William C. Rose Award for distinguished mentorship. Following a nineteen-year run as an HHMI Investigator (1997-2016), Moore resigned from HHMI to become the Chief Scientific Officer of the mRNA Research Platform at Moderna Therapeutics in Cambridge, MA. Moore maintains her academic affiliation with UMMS as a part-time faculty member.

Maged Costantine, M.D.

Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology,
The Ohio State University, Wexner Medical Center

As a maternal fetal medicine physician, I’m passionate about helping pregnant moms who have a high-risk condition, whether it’s a maternal disease or fetal complication or anomaly. I treat patients the way I would want to be treated by listening to their concerns, answering questions, being respectful and providing patients with the most up-to-date information in a clear, unbiased manner. It’s a privilege that patients allow me to be involved in their care.

I’m lucky to have trained with amazing Ob/Gyn mentors who taught me how to approach difficult situations in the care of high-risk pregnant mothers. Practicing in an academic medical institution with students, residents and fellows along with my passion to provide the best care for my patients pushes me to be a better doctor. I learn something every day, whether it’s when I’m preparing a lecture, answering a question or taking care of a patient.

As a professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, I’ll often work with students who seek career guidance or someone to discuss research projects with. It reminds me of when I was a student and valued the relationships I had with my mentors, so I try to be a good mentor and role model for my students as well.

I believe incorporating research alongside patient care is essential for advancing the care of patients. I have been working on repurposing cholesterol-lowering drugs (statins) for the prevention or treatment of pregnancy complications, especially preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication that affects 3%-8% of pregnant patients and is associated with short- and long-term maternal and neonatal morbidities and mortality.

In my free time, I enjoy spending time with family, playing soccer and traveling.

Thomas McElrath, M.D., Ph.D.

Professor of Obstetrics,
Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Dr McElrath is a Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology at Harvard Medical School and a Professor of Epidemiology at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. For 25 years he has served as an attending physician in Maternal-Fetal Medicine at The Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston where he is the Director of the Preterm Birth Clinic and Principal Investigator of the LIFECODES birth cohort. He has a PhD in Mathematical Demography with ongoing research interests in the management of the hypertensive disease of pregnancy.

Allison August, M.D.

Chief Medical Officer,
Comanche Biopharma

Allison is Chief Medical Officer at Comanche Biopharma. Allison is responsible for the strategy, direction and execution of the company’s clinical development plans. In addition to leading and supervising the Clinical Research Department, she has responsibility for Clinical Operations, Patient Advocacy, Medical Affairs and Pharmacovigilance.

Previous to Comanche, Allison was Vice President of Clinical Development, Infectious Diseases at Moderna and spent over five years in various roles with increasing responsibility for the development of mRNA-based vaccines and the first mRNA-encoded monoclonal antibody. Allison has led multidisciplinary teams on the successful execution of clinical programs from Phase 1 through Phase 3, including serving as the clinical lead for the Phase 3 pivotal efficacy trial for the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine.

During her tenure at Moderna, she was the clinical lead responsible for advancing several vaccines including RSV, hMPV-PIV, Zika and Chikungunya and led the Medical Affairs team for CMV and other latent virus vaccines. Prior to Moderna, Allison headed the global clinical team for the RSV maternal immunization vaccine program at Novavax. Prior to Novavax, Allison worked in translational medicine, early and exploratory clinical development, and Phase 1 through Phase 3 vaccine trials, including maternal immunization, for Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics.

Before moving to the biopharma industry, Allison was an academic and private practice obstetrician-gynecologist. Her academic career included faculty positions at the Brown University Medical School and adjunctive faculty at the Harvard Medical School affiliated hospitals. Allison holds a B.A. in the History of Religion from Bryn Mawr College and an M.D. from the University of Chicago, Pritzker School of Medicine. She was Board Certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology after completing her residency training at Brown University.

Register Now


Monday, February 12, 2024
7:00 AM – 8:00 AM


Cherry Blossom Ballroom,
Ballroom Level

Sponsored by:

This independent presentation is not part of the official program as planned by the SMFM Pregnancy Meeting™ Program Committee.

Program Description:

​​​This thought-provoking symposium on preeclampsia convenes leading experts: Olympic champion and maternal health advocate Allyson Felix; Thomas McElrath, a renowned figure in translational medicine in pregnancy; Maged Costantine, a distinguished maternal-fetal medicine specialist and researcher; and Melissa J. Moore, a respected authority in RNA science. Allison August, Chief Medical Officer of Comanche Biopharma, will moderate the event.
The program is designed to deepen the understanding of preeclampsia’s complexities among clinicians. It will facilitate a scientific exchange on the latest research and scientific advancements, aiming to foster collaborative efforts in advancing solutions to address this urgent maternal health issue.

Learning Objectives:

  • Comprehend the role of sFlt-1 in the pathophysiology of preeclampsia and the implications for diagnosis and treatment.
  • ​Recognize the value of the available diagnostic tests for early detection and monitoring of preeclampsia.
  • ​Appreciate the clinician’s perspective in using the diagnostic test to diagnose and manage preeclampsia and optimizing patient care.
  • ​Understand how siRNA therapeutics work and the potential of an siRNA therapeutic as a treatment option for preeclampsia.
  • ​Be aware of the patient’s perspective and the impacts of preeclampsia.

About Comanche Biopharma:

Comanche Biopharma is a maternal and fetal medicine biopharmaceutical company working to make every pregnancy around the world safer. We are currently developing the world’s first treatment for preeclampsia, which affects more than 10 million women every year.

Contact Us

50 Beharrell St, Unit B
Concord, MA 01742

Contact Us

Comanche is a biopharmaceutical company developing a novel siRNA therapy for the treatment of preeclampsia. Our purpose is to lower the risks of pregnancy and prematurity worldwide by safely sustaining pregnancy. We envision a world where all pregnant women have access to safe and effective therapies that are evidence-based, cost-effective and sustainable.

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