Our laboratory is interested in developing in vitro as well as in vivo models of early placental development. Defective placenta is the root cause of human pregnancy disorders, specifically pre-eclampsia, intra uterine growth retardation, and preterm labor. These are serious conditions with long term consequences for the health of both the mother and the offspring.
For the in vitro studies, we are using a human embryonic stem cell (hESC) based model. HESC can undergo directed differentiation into trophoblast/placental cell types upon exposure to the growth factor BMP4, making it an ideal system for studying early trophoblast specification events. For in vivo studies, we make use of the placental specific transgenesis approach in mice, where the placental tissue is specifically targeted by lentivirus with the gene of interest.