Key Research Themes
- Control of myometrial contractility
- Control of fetal maturation and adaptation at birth
- Determining causes of adverse pregnancy outcomes
- Imprinting, placental function and fetal growth
- Epigenetic basis of metabolic disease
- Immune cells at the fetal-maternal interface
- Control of tumour growth by immunity
- Cell transplantation
- Chromatin remodeler function in ovarian cancer
The Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology has programs of basic, translational and clinical research, which primarily address the determinants of pregnancy complications. Professor Charnock-Jones, Dr Constancia and Dr Colucci use transgenic mouse models to identify key genes involved in murine placentation with the aim of better understanding normal reproductive function. Professor Charnock-Jones studies the effect of oxygen on endothelial cells and trophoblast in the placenta. In a collaborative project with the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, Professor Charnock-Jones also examines the molecular processes involved in the pathway of developing Ovarian Cancer from, normal endometrium or endometriosis. Dr Constancia has a major interest in placental epigenetics, in particular genomic imprinting (i.e. selective epigenetic silencing of genes according to parent of origin). Dr Colucci aims at understanding how immune cells impact on reproduction, cancer and transplantation. Other basic work in the department addresses preparative changes in gene expression in the fetus for post-natal life.
The major focus of translational research in the Department is a prospective cohort study of women in their first pregnancy, and is funded by the NIHR Cambridge Comprehensive Biomedical Research Centre. The project has created a central resource of data, blood samples taken throughout pregnancy, and samples of placenta obtained at birth, from 4200 first pregnancies. The resource will be used to understand better the role of the placenta in determining adverse pregnancy outcome and, it is hoped, to identify novel biomarkers, which may be clinically useful. A major focus of this research involves the application of next generation sequencing to these samples, with a particular focus on the epigenetic regulation (methylation, histone modification and non-coding RNA) of placental gene expression. These studies involve close collaboration with the University’s Centre for Trophoblast Research. Finally, clinical research in the Department uses secondary analysis of diverse data sources to study determinants and predictors pregnancy outcome.
Our labs are well equipped with tissue culture facilities, physiology and molecular biology equipment, and secure storage for a large array of samples and sample types that we study. As a department within the wider University of Cambridge research community, we have access to world-class research resources and expertise.
We foster a number of fruitful collaborations particularly with the Department of Paediatrics, the Department of Physiology, the Institute of Metabolic Sciences, and Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute.
The department welcomes interest from students and collaborators from allied fields who may wish to discuss further new avenues for research.