Our lab focuses on genetic and epigenetics as they relate to human development. We use genomic techniques to understand developmental processes and answer clinically relevant questions. We are greatly interested to understand the factors that set newborns onto a healthy trajectory at birth.
Establishing a pregnancy, maintaining it, and supporting fetal growth involves a complex interplay between maternal and fetal signals, all 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. Our studies are focused on 1) how the placenta adapts during pregnancy and what it can tell us about the environment to which the fetus was exposed; 2) the impact of in utero and perinatal exposures to newborn and life long health.
Some more specific goals of our research include:
- Improved early diagnosis of pregnancy complications
- An understanding of how genetic and epigenetic errors arise in development
- Epigenetic characterization of in the placenta and its relationship to maternal hypertension, intrauterine growth restriction, birth defects, and development of the immune system
- Understanding the role of the placenta and folate transport in the etiology of neural tube defects
- Characterizing epigenetic changes in fetal tissues and newborn blood to understand developmental processes