BREED – Biology of Reproduction, Environment, Epigenetics and Development

The BREED unit is a large research unit (>90 people) gathering researchers specializing in biomedical, veterinary and fundamental fields. It is primarily attached to the National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment (INRAE) but also to Paris-Saclay university (UPSAY), Versailles-Saint Quentin university (UVSQ), and The National Veterinary School of Alfort (ENVA). Its research focuses on the development of the mammalian embryo from the formation of the egg cell to birth and development to adulthood. Projects range from fundamental studies on the functioning of the genome during embryo and fetal growth to applied research on the effects of the environment at large on development in the agronomic, veterinary and biomedical fields. The scientific objective is to understand and control the mechanisms of epigenetic programming during prenatal life, leading to the birth of a healthy, fertile and robust individual, able to adapt to changes in his environment.

The unit is organized into 5 research teams supported by an administrative team and shared services and platforms. One team is specialised in placental research.

The Placenta, Environment and Programming of Phenonypes (PEPPS) team is particularly dedicated to placental function. It is composed of 10 permanent staff members, with expertise in placental and animal physiology, medical imaging, histology, morphometry, lipidology, endocrinology and cellular and molecular biology. In addition, the team develops original approaches in gestation microscopy and imaging.

Unit members working on placenta


  • Paul Berweiler
  • Pascale Chavatte-Palmer
  • Anne Couturier-Tarrade
  • Marie-Noëlle Dieudonné
  • Maria Flores-Sanabria
  • Delphine Rousseau-Ralliard

PhD Students

  • Emilie Derisoud (3rd year)
  • Marta Hita (1st year)

Placenta groups

EPG gathers many groups working in research or in clinics or both, on human placenta but also on various animal and cellular models. The placenta of domestic and wild animals is also studied, both for veterinary purposes and to understand why this temporary organ is so variable in shape and organisation between species.

Jena Placenta Lab

Department of Obstetrics, Jena University Hospital, Germany

Main Placenta-Related Topics:

We are a group of international scientists with diverse backgrounds and interests who perform research in several areas of human reproduction and pregnancy. Four group leaders and their teams constitute the Placenta Lab.

Our research focuses on different aspects of human reproduction: Physiology of the human placenta, function and regulation of placental trophoblast and immune cells, regulation of placental angiogenesis, pathological pregnancies and placentas, communication of placenta with maternal immune and neural cells via extracellular vesicles and non-coding RNA, effects of pollutants on maternal health and pregnancy outcome, aspects of preparation of the uterus for embryo implantation and placentation with emphasis on immunological factors and cells, physiology of the female reproductive tract, placenta toxicology and animal testing alternatives.

Head of the Lab

Prof. Udo Markert, MD

Group Leaders

  • Prof. Tanja Groten, MD
  • Priv.-Doz. Diana M Morales Prieto, PhD
  • André Schmidt, PhD
  • Astrid Schmidt, PhD

Special Techniques & Technologies

  • Placenta perfusion
  • Isolation of extracellular vesicles
  • Placenta explants
  • Organ-on-chip models
  • Spheroid models and other 3D cell cultures

PhD Students & Postdocs

  • Jose M Murrieta-Coxca, PhD
  • Silke Große, PhD
  • Jana Pastuschek
  • Paulina Fuentes
  • Julian Henao
  • Lingyu Wei
  • Hephzibah Winter

Reproductive Biology Laboratory, Amsterdam UMC, Netherlands

Main placenta-related topics:

The research of our team focusses on the functional genomics and epigenetics of proper placental development during pregnancy as this is critical for the delivery of a healthy baby. We use human models systems (trophoblast stem cells, cell lines, organoids, placental explants) to investigate these developments normally occurring in the first trimester of human pregnancy. Additionally, situations leading to a dysfunctional placenta (e.g. reduced trophoblast invasion) causing complications like pre-eclampsia and intra-uterine growth restriction are simulated, providing more insight in the origin of these events. Secondly, our team performs translational research on placental cells isolated from Pap smears collected from pregnant women to investigate if this can be used as a less invasive alternative to chorionic villous sampling to detect monogenic diseases.

Techniques & Technologies:

  • Placental cell, explant and organoid culture
  • Trophoblast Retrieval and Isolation from the Cervix (TRIC)
  • RNA-sequencing and bioinformatics
  • DNA methylation analysis

Principal Investigators

PhD students & Postdocs

  • Hajar Hassani Lahsinou
  • Febilla Fernando
  • Danai Georgiadou
  • Jantine van Voorden


  • Remco Keijser
  • Souad Boussata