The future health of the child is heavily influenced by in utero fetal development. In our lab, we use various genomic and epigenomic techniques to understand how placental development is tied with fetal growth and child health.
Establishing a pregnancy, maintaining it, and supporting fetal growth involves a complex interplay between maternal and fetal signals, largely mediated by the placenta. Early exposures (to nutrition, stress and disease) are increasingly appreciated to play a role in modifying gene expression in development and affecting fetal growth and neonatal outcomes. However, both maternal and placental-fetal genetic variation likely mediates a substantial portion of these influences and their effect on the placenta. Our studies are focused on understanding normal placental genetic and epigenetic variation including DNA methylation changes associated with sex, cell type, and gestational age; 2) what the placenta can tell us about fetal health.
Some specific projects include:
- Placental mosaicism (aneuploidy and copy number variation) and its impact on fetal development
- Sex differences in early development
- Population demographics (e.g. ethnicity, ancestry, SES, parental age) and epigenetic changes in the placenta.
- Genetic and epigenetic changes in the placenta associated with pathology, e.g. fetal growth restriction, congenital heart defects, and infection associated with preterm birth
- Developmental relationships and epigenetic reprogramming of different extra embryonic cell types (funding application in progress).
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