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.

Particles@Barriers lab

Department Materials meet Life, Empa, St.Gallen, Switzerland

Empa – Particles-Biology Interactions – Particlesatbarrier

Main placenta-related topics:

The aim of our group is to discover the fundamentals of (nano)particles-biobarrierinteractions (lung, intestine and the placenta). In particular, we are interested in the correlation of physicochemical particle properties with barrier uptake and translocation and their biological effects. To achieve results of high predictive value, we develop and employadvanced human in vitro and ex vivo models (ex vivo placenta perfusion, co-culture transfer model, 3D microtissues, microphysiolgical co-culture model). Our research is pivotal for the safe design and use of nanomaterials in industrial, commercial and medical applications and the protection of vulnerable populations. 

Principal Investigator

• Tina Buerki-Thurnherr, PhD 

PhD students & Postdocs

• •Battuja Dugershaw-Kurzer

• Lea Furer


• Yvette Hannig

Techniques & Technologies:

Ex vivo placenta perfusion, placental explants, primary cells, co-culture organoids, co-culture transfer models•Nanosafety and nanomedicine in pregnancy

• Placental translocation of nanomaterials

• Identification of SARs (structure activity relationships) and toxicity mechanisms of nanomaterials

• Nanoparticle characterization

Research Centre for Obstetrics and Gynaecology

Main placenta-related topics:

Oslo Pregnancy Biobank has since 2001 recruited women  during pregnancy/delivery (incl. placenta and decidual tissue collection) and 1-8 years after their index pregnancy. Our long term goal is to improve maternal and fetal health, and use pregnancy findings (eg. Placenta-related biomarkers) to identify individuals at excessive risk for long-term disease. We seek to determine the mechanisms linking placental dysfunction and later female cardiovascular health problems, and to identify new targets for early prevention of CVD in young women.

Another main placenta-related  topic of the group is senescent/postterm placentas and their biomarkers.

Techniques & Technologies:
• Diagnosing uteroplacental acute athorosis (IHC)
• Microchimerism and link to atherosclerosis
• Angiogenic biomarkers

Principal Investigators
• Anne Cathrine (Annetine) Staff
• Meryam Sugulle

PhD students & Postdocs
• Daniel Pitz Jacobsen, postdoc
• Kjartan Moe, MD, PhD
• Patji Alnaes-Katjavivi, MD; PhD
• PhD students:
• Heidi E. Fjeldstad
• Sophie Bowe
• Birgitte Mitlid-Mork
• Ingrid Fosheim

• Lise Ø Levy

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)

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