Profile and Department: Associate Scientist, Children’s Health Research Institute
My lab’s research is focused on how the placenta develops and functions. The placenta ensures that the baby obtains a sufficient supply of nutrients and oxygen throughout pregnancy. When the placenta does not develop or function properly, the baby does not obtain enough nutrients and serious obstetric complications can arise that affect the health and well-being of the baby. Thus, understanding the fundamental mechanisms of placental development is crucial to discover better preventative or therapeutic approaches for these obstetric complications. My lab is particularly interested in the development and function of trophoblasts, which are the parenchymal cells of the placenta and perform many of the functions of this organ. Trophoblasts arise from trophoblast stem cells, which undergo a multi-lineage differentiation pathway culminating in the development of specialized trophoblast lineages with unique morphologies and functions. We have identified key transcription factors that regulate trophoblast proliferation and differentiation. Currently, we are studying how these transcription factors cooperate with epigenetic regulators to control differentiation into these specialized trophoblast lineages.