During pregnancy, the mother must adapt metabolically to support offspring growth. Failures in maternal adaptation can result in pregnancy complications like gestational diabetes mellitus, defined as high glucose levels during pregnancy. This is worrying as gestational diabetes mellitus is associated with other pregnancy complications like preeclampsia and abnormal birthweight. The placenta secretes hormones with metabolic effects. However, the precise role of placental endocrine function and how other placental derived-hormones influence maternal metabolic health is largely unknown.
My current work as a Sir Henry Wellcome Fellow at the Centre for Trophoblast Research (Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience) employs animal models to understand placental function and determine the impact of aberrant placental endocrine function on maternal metabolism during pregnancy as well as in offspring growth. These studies are important for understanding the development of metabolic diseases during and after pregnancy.