Our lab focuses on genetics and epigenetics as they relate to human development. We use various 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, 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 1) normal placental genetic and epigenetic variation including DNA methylation changes associated with sex and gestational age; 2) what the placenta can tell us about fetal health; 3) the role of pregnancy associated inflammation and development.
Some more goals of our research include:
- Improved early diagnosis of pregnancy complications
- An understanding of how genetic and epigenetic errors arise in development
- Genetic and epigenetic characterization of in the placenta and its relationship to maternal hypertension, fetal growth restriction, birth defects, and infection associated with preterm birth
- Sex differences in development
- Copy number variation in the placenta
- Cell specific epigenetic profiles