Sarah K. England, PhD

Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Washington University in St. Louis (WU)

My research addresses mechanisms that regulate smooth muscle cell excitability and relaxation. Ion flux in myometrial cells results in changes in membrane excitability. For example, potassium efflux is the primary ionic current responsible for maintaining the resting membrane potential, and contributes significantly to uterine quiescence during pregnancy. In myometrial smooth muscle cells (MSMCs), changes in the expression or activity of K+ channels can translate into inadequate repolarization, leading to aberrant uterine activity and pathophysiological conditions such as preterm labor and post-term labor. The main objective of research in my laboratory is to contribute fundamental knowledge about how the modulation of ion channel expression and function could be used to regulate uterine activity.