Anna Knight, PhD
Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics
BIRCWH Scholar: 2019 - Present
Dr. Anna Knight is an Instructor in the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics. She completed bachelor’s degrees in Biological Sciences and History at North Carolina State University. She then completed her PhD in Genetics and Molecular Biology at Emory. Dr. Knight’s research thus far has leveraged the Emory University African American Microbiome in Pregnancy (AAMP) cohort lead by Dr. Anne Dunlop to assess how changes in DNA methylation, gene expression, and microbiome composition increase risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes. As a result, she has identified changes in gene expression and microbiome composition over the course of normal, uncomplicated pregnancies, that will serve as a foundation to evaluate changes in complicated pregnancies. Additionally, she utilized DNA methylation data available for this cohort to identify an association between fetal intolerance of labor and DNA methylation of a sodium-hydrogen transporter, SLC9B1.
In addition to studies of maternal pregnancy complications, Dr. Knight also developed a DNA methylation-based predictor of gestational age at birth, which is accurate within about a week of estimated gestational age. Follow-up studies have examined developmental maturity (the difference between predicted and clinically-estimated age) and perinatal factors, including maternal depression, prenatal steroid administration, and fetal sex. We also identified associations between developmental maturity and neonatal intensive care unit outcomes and interventions, including surfactant and steroid administration and the development of bronchopulmonary dysplasia. Dr. Knight hopes to extend these studies of developmental maturity to neonates born as a result of in vitro fertilization.
During her training for the BIRCWH award, Dr. Knight will examine the role of the vaginal microbiome in in vitro fertilization success, including changes related to controlled ovarian hyperstimulation and prophylactic antibiotic use, and will determine the predictive value of vaginal microbiome composition at critical timepoints for implantation and pregnancy success. Her primary mentor is Dr. Alicia Smith.