Harvey J. Kliman, MD, PhD, is a physician scientist who specializes in studying and treating infertility and pregnancy complications, including recurrent pregnancy loss. He is also the director of the Reproductive and Placental Research Unit at Yale School of Medicine.
“Much of my research focuses on the field of embryo implantation and what can go wrong in the process,” says Dr. Kliman, who developed the Endometrial Function Test®, which examines the uterine lining. “If the endometrium isn’t working correctly, a woman will not get pregnant.”
To use the test, a doctor takes a small sample of a woman’s endometrium (the mucous membrane lining the uterus) at two different times during her menstrual cycle. “The test tells us if we should give the patient more or less estrogen or progesterone before we transfer an embryo into her uterus,” Kliman explains. “Or sometimes we find inflammation, which we might need to treat.”
Dr. Kliman’s other research investigates pregnancy loss and recurrent pregnancy loss (the loss of two or more consecutive pregnancies). Dr. Kliman examines tissue samples from the placenta to understand why a loss happened.
“I will meet with the family and go through why they had their loss and what they can do the next time to hopefully prevent it,” he says. “Behind every healthy baby is a healthy placenta. The placenta is like the roots of a tree. The leaves and branches are the fetus. The tree trunk is the umbilical cord. If there aren't enough nutrients, if there's an infection, or if there's something developmentally wrong with that placenta, the roots don't grow normally and that can lead to problems.”
When it comes to working with families who have experienced pregnancy loss, Dr. Kliman says his first priority is to assure them it’s not their fault. “And if we can find a reason, we try to treat it,” he says. “I love helping patients. It’s amazing to help them overcome problems with implantation or a terrible loss, and see them achieve a successful pregnancy. I can't think of anything better.”