portrait of Dr BeleilISSF Daphne Jackson Fellowship

The role of the reproductive tract microbiome in preterm prelabour rupture of membranes (RRROM)

The role of vaginal infection during pregnancy and preterm birth

Preterm birth (delivery before 37 weeks’ gestation) is the primary cause of death in children under 5 years of age worldwide. Preterm prelabour rupture of fetal membrane (PPROM) (also known as when a woman’s waters break prematurely in pregnancy) precede 30% of spontaneous preterm birth cases and has been associated with vaginal colonisation by pathogenic bacteria during pregnancy, however the causes of PPROM are not fully understood.
In this project I am using advanced sequencing techniques to determine if vaginal bacteria can ascend the reproductive tract and colonise the fetal membranes and placenta and cause intrauterine infection/inflammation leading to PPROM. I am studying this in a unique set of matched samples (vaginal samples and corresponding placental tissue samples and fetal membrane tissue samples for each patient) collected from women who go on to experience PPROM. I am also performing detailed auditing and meta-data analyses on our large tissue bank of stored samples that will be used for future validation studies.

Further work will include,
-Cytokine profiling of tissue samples to test the hypothesis that microbiota composition influences the local inflammatory environment.
-Imaging techniques to detect the precise location of specific types of bacteria in the fetal membranes and placenta.
-Functional assays to determine how these bacteria modulate inflammatory pathways throughout the reproductive tract using established cell culture models.

Detailed understanding of how vaginal microbiome contribute to PPROM is fundamental for the development of predictive and individualised therapeutic strategies to control microbial infection in the reproductive tract, leading to improved pregnancy outcomes. Dr Beleil in laboratory


Dr Tanweer Beleil PhD
Dr Tanweer Beleil is a Research Associate in Pregnancy Parturition and Prematurity section at the Institute of Reproductive and Developmental Biology, Imperial College London.
Tanweer is a Daphne Jackson Fellow who returned to science after 10 years career break. Her Fellowship is sponsored by Imperial College London and the Genesis Research Trust.
Prior to her ten-year career break, Tanweer was pursuing a highflying career in Reproductive Molecular research, obtaining a BSc (Hons) in Zoology from University of Khartoum, a MPhil and a PhD in Reproductive Molecular Biology both from University of Cambridge. She was awarded the Gates Cambridge Scholarship for her achievement at University.
Tanweer postponed her research career so she could support and spend more time with her eldest daughter, who was born prematurely and was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder when she was three years old. She then went onto have two more children.
Tanweer’s own preterm birth experience inspires her career and research. Her research is primarily focused on investigating the reproductive tract microbiota and the maternal host interaction during pregnancy and understanding how this relationship impacts upon pregnancy outcomes and risk of preterm birth.