Donald M. Nelson, MD, PhD
Virginia Lang Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology
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Washington University in St. Louis (WU)
The human placenta interfaces the maternal and fetal circulations and provides nutrition for fetal growth and development. The trophoblast component of placental villi is key for transport of nutrients and wastes between the mother and fetus. This layer is exposed to maternal blood and thereby to toxins in circulating blood and to alterations in oxygen delivery. The trophoblast injury that results from hypoxia and re-perfusion occurs in part by apoptosis. My laboratory studies the molecular and cellular basis of regulation of trophoblast apoptosis in normal pregnancy and in pregnancies complicated by fetal growth restriction, preeclampsia, or both. Our goal is to elucidate the controls that modulate the trophoblast so that therapeutic interventions might be instituted to improve overall placental functions in pregnancy pathologies.