Comparative Placentation

Mouse models of perinatal disease.

Mice, including transgenic mice, have long been used to model human disease.  While many differences exist between these two species, both in placental structure and gestation length, the mouse remains an invaluable model in which to study the role of specific genes in placentation and fetal development, to identify points of crosstalk between maternal physiology and placental function, and to test the effects of specific exposures during pregnancy on both maternal and neonatal health.  Specifically, our researchers use mouse models in order to study the development of the placenta, to probe the contributions of placenta to fetal health and growth, and to evaluate the role of maternal obesity and metabolic disease on programming of health and disease in the offspring.


Dr. Kurt Benirschke

Reproduction in placental mammals.

The placenta is the key organ which supports the proper growth and development of the fetus in the womb, but it is also the most evolutionarily divergent organ.  Therefore, in order to promote species conservation, including those of placental mammals, it is important to understand placentation is a variety of species.  To this end, and in order to carry forward the legacy of Dr. Kurt Benirschke, the renowned placental pathologist and conservationist, the Center for Perinatal Discovery has initiated a collaboration with our colleagues at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research (ICR), in order to create a placental tissue bank from a wide variety of species, which would then be made available to the wider scientific community.  Our researchers are also collaborating directly with ICR researchers, using induced pluripotent stem cells to understand germ cell and placental cell differentiation in different species.