EPG Council 2021

Sally Collins

Prof. Sally L. Collins is a Consultant Obstetrician subspecializing in Feto-Maternal Medicine at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, an Associate Professor in the Nuffield Department of Women’s and Reproductive Health, University of Oxford and the Medical lead for Women’s health for Perspectum Ltd.

Sally graduated in Medicine from the University of Oxford and specialized in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, training within the Oxford region during which time she completed a PhD in Obstetric Ultrasound. Sally is currently a Consultant Obstetrician in a busy NHS Trust and has set up the Oxford FMU tertiary referral Placenta Clinic. 

She is highly research active having authored over 100 journal articles, filed two patents and won several international research awards. She currently holds a grant from the NIHR AI in Health and Care awards to develop a fully automated first trimester ultrasound screening tool for fetal growth restriction. Using machine learning techniques her team pioneered the first fully automated method for estimating placental morphology and vascularity from a 3D ultrasound image. It is hoped that this will form the basis of a first trimester multifactorial screening test for adverse pregnancy outcomes such as fetal growth restriction and pre-eclampsia.

Sally is also world renown for her expertise in placenta accreta spectrum (PAS) disorder and is currently working with NHS England to develop a national network for the diagnosis and management of PAS having co-authored the RCOG and FIGO guidelines on diagnosis and management of PAS. She is a UK representative to, and elected Vice-Chairperson of, the International Society for PAS and is the lead author on their recent evidence-based guidelines. She is a founder member of the Oxford Placenta Accreta team (https://www.placentaaccretaspectrum.com/) and continues to strive to improve the outcomes for women affected by this rare, but complex and potentially lethal condition.

Anne Couturier-Tarrade

Anne Couturier-Tarradeis a senior scientist at BREED Unit (Biology of Reproduction, Epigenetic, Environment and Development) from INRAE, a research unit focusing on reproduction and DOHaD (Developmental Origins of Health and Disease). She is at the head of PEPPS team (Placenta, Environment and Programming of PhenotypeS).

She has been working in the field of DOHaD for over ten years now, focusing on the effects of maternal environment (nutrition, metabolism, pollution and nanoparticles) on the placenta, a programming agent of offspring phenotype.

She has acquired a strong expertise on several animal models including rabbit and mouse, but also on human placenta during her PhD.

She is a member of the board of DOHaD (http://sf-dohad.fr) and a MC member substitute of the COST “Cellfit” (http://cost-cellfit.eu/). Currently, she is the coordinator of two research programs related to placental function (ANR and INRAE).

Email : anne.couturier-tarrade@inrae.fr

Link : https://www6.jouy.inrae.fr/breed_eng/Our-Research/Scientific-teams/Placenta-Environment-and-Programming-of-PhenotypeS-PEPPS

Mark Dilworth

Mark Dilworth is a lecturer in Maternal and Fetal Health at the University of Manchester, UK, having previously been an MRC Career Development Award Research Fellow from 2013-2018. His PhD, focused upon renal physiology, was completed in 2007 before he then saw the light and moved to the pregnancy (and placental) field! Mark is a reproductive physiologist whose research focuses on investigating the placental causes of fetal growth restriction and stillbirth in higher-risk populations, including women of advanced maternal age. Mark also has expertise in the use of pre-clinical models, including animal models, to assess candidate therapies for placental dysfunction. Mark is passionate about bringing through the next generation of placental researchers in his roles as PhD supervisor and programme director for MRes Reproduction and Pregnancy. He also chairs the Elsevier Trophoblast Research (New Investigator) Award committee.     


Sandra Haider

After receiving my BSc from the University of Applied Sciences I started my professional career at the Reproductive Biology Unit under the lead of ao Prof. Martin Knöfler. In 2010, I obtained my MSc degree in Molecular Biology at the University of Vienna, and in 2015, I received my PhD from the Medical University of Vienna. My doctoral thesis was on critical signalling pathways controlling trophoblast progenitor determination. Recently, I was given a permanent postdoc position and a 3-year professorship qualification agreement to establish independence and start my own program of research in Reproductive Biology.

My main research focus is to elucidate mechanism controlling cell fate decisions in human first trimester placentae. Of note, proliferation, differentiation and specific maturation of human epithelial and non- epithelial cells is a critical requirement for proper placentation during pregnancy and failures are associated with pregnancy disorders such as preeclampsia, intrauterine growth restriction and early abortion. So far, milestones in my career have been the discovery of Notch1 controlling extravillous trophoblast lineage formation (PNAS, 2016), the establishment of long-term expanding, 3D trophoblast organoids (Stem Cell Reports, 2018), as well as elucidating the mechanism of cilia formation in endometrial gland organoids (Endocrinology, 2019).

2020 Gabor Than Foundation Award in Placentology for 2020 – runner-up 2019 The President’s Presenter Award, Society of Reproductive Investigation (SRI), Paris, 2017 The Researcher of the Month, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
2016. The Giorgio Pardi Young Scientist Award, SRI, Montreal, Canada


https://www.meduniwien.ac.at/web/forschung/researcher-profiles/researcher- profiles/index.php?id=688&res=sandra_haider

Linda Harris

Dr Lynda K Harris is a Senior Lecturer at The University of Manchester UK, cross-appointed between The Maternal and Fetal Health Research Centre (MFHRC) and The Division of Pharmacy and Optometry (DPO). She is currently the Research Director for DPO and a Scientific Co-Director of The MFHRC.

Lynda received a BSc in Pathobiology (1999) and a PhD in in atherosclerosis (2003) from the University of Reading, UK. She then moved to The MFHRC at The University of Manchester, where her postdoctoral research focused on understanding the mechanisms regulating human uterine spiral artery remodelling, and trophoblast invasion, proliferation and survival. In 2010, she was awarded the IFPA Gabor Than Award, as well as a 5 year BBSRC David Phillips Research Fellowship to develop targeted drug delivery systems for use in pregnancy. She spent 2011 working with Professor Erkki Ruoslahti at The Sanford Burnham Institute, UC Santa Barbara, USA to identify a series of novel placental homing peptides. Upon her return to Manchester, she used these peptides to create nanoparticles for targeted delivery of drugs to the placenta. She was appointed as a tenured Lecturer in 2015 and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2018. Over the past 10 years, she has created a new research discipline of obstetric nanomedicine, specialising in in vitroin vivo and in silico approaches.  She has a track-record of securing grant funding, forging international collaborations and publishing in high quality journals, as well as 20 years’ experience of research supervision, and undergraduate and postgraduate teaching. 

Lynda attended her first IFPA meeting in Asilomar, USA in 2004, and has attended 13 of the 16 meetings held since. She has been a regular presenter, session chair, poster judge and session/workshop organiser, and was a member of the local organising committee for IFPA 2017 in Manchester. As such, she has significant first-hand knowledge of IFPA and The EPG, its members, the needs of early- and mid-career researchers and conference organisation. 


Rohan Lewis

I have been studying the placenta for almost 25 years and have published on placental transport, metabolism, and ultrastructure, as well as placenta’s sensing of the maternal environment and its role in the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease. My work applying mathematical modelling to placental transport studies, has provided insights into the transport of amino acids, lipids, cortisol and pharmacological drugs. The application of 3D imaging to the placenta, particularly serial block-face scanning electron microscopy has provided new insights into placental structure in the human placenta and I am now applying this 3D approach to comparative placentology.

I have been an active member of the placental community since my first IFPA in 2001. I have been on the editorial board of Placenta and my contributions as a reviewer for the journal have been recognised by “Excellence in Reviewing” awards in 2014 and 2018. I have also been actively involved in the European Placental Perfusion Workshop, which I was helped organise in 2011, 2020 and 2021. As part of the European Union funded Early nutrition project and a Leverhulme Trust funded comparative placentology project I have collaborated with researchers from across Europe.

Diana Morales-Prieto

I am group leader and deputy head of the Placenta-Lab in the Department of Obstetrics, University Hospital Jena (Jena, GER).  I earned my bachelor’s degree in Chemistry at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia (Bogotá, COL) and my doctoral degree Ph.D. (Dr.rer.nat) at the Biology and Pharmacy Faculty of the Friedrich-Schiller University (Jena, GER). I was a postdoctoral fellow at the Placenta-Lab and the Department of Neurology both of the University Hospital Jena, and the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science (RNA Bioinformatics and High Throughput Analysis) of the Friedrich-Schiller-University. Currently, I am qualifying for a professorship (Habilitation) with a Venia Legendi in Experimental Obstetrics at the Faculty of Medicine, Friedrich-Schiller University (Expected completion: Autumn 2021). I have been awarded the Elsevier Trophoblast Research New Investigator Award (International Federation of Placenta Associations) and the Dr. John Gusdon Memorial New Investigator Award (American Society for Reproductive Immunology). 

Within the Placenta-Lab, I have established the “Extracellular vesicles and miRNA” group, which I have been leading for the last five years. Our research focuses on three interrelated areas of investigation: The feto-maternal communication mediated by extracellular vesicles and microRNAs. The maternal immunological adaptation and brain remodeling and how these persist after birth. And the effect of pollutants on maternal health and pregnancy outcomes.

bibliography : https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/myncbi/diana.morales%20prieto.1/bibliography/public/

Christiane Pfarrer

Christiane Pfarrer graduated as veterinarian in Germany in 1989 and joined the Anatomy Department of the Justus-Liebig-University Giessen in 1992 where she also graduated as Dr. med. vet. in the same year. She started her “placenta life” by studying placental vascularization comparatively in the group of Prof. Rudi Leiser. Several research visits to other universities (University of Copenhagen, Loma Linda University, Texas A&M University) improved her knowledge. Later she focused on histologically characterizing the feto-maternal interaction especially, but not exclusively, in bovines. This work resulted in her habilitation in 2004. From that point, she (together with her group) developed in vitro models for embryo-maternal communication in bovines. Career wise, she became Chair of Anatomy at the Institute for Anatomy (also head of Institute) of the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Foundation in Germany. In Hannover, her group intensified the work on in vitro systems by developing 3-D models (organoids/spheroids) and started ultrastructural analysis and 3-D reconstruction of the bovine interhemal membrane and trophoblast giant cells.

Christiane is member of EPG since her first meeting in Spa, Belgium in 1995. In 2003 she co-organized the EPG/IFPA meeting in Mainz, Germany together with Rudi Leiser. Later she served in the EPG planning committee and was representative of EPG in the IFPA board, and subsequently Secretary of IFPA from 2012-2016. Besides, she is an active member of the European Association of Veterinary Anatomists (EAVA), where she served as treasurer, vice president (2016-21) and was elected president this year (2021). She has co-authored > 130 original articles in peer-reviewed journals.

Jelmer Prins 

Dr. J.R. Prins, is an obstetrician in the University Medical Center Groningen, the Netherlands. He combines clinical work in a tertiary obstetric hospital with translational research, for which he has been granted a Mandema Stipend in 2015, to be able to combine his clinical work with research. His research focuses on reproductive immunology in pregnant women and animal models of pregnancy. Within his research he mainly focuses on the role of regulatory T cells and memory T cells in pregnancy and pregnancy complications as spontaneous preterm birth and preeclampsia. The combination of a clinical and research position in obstetrics, provides a possibility for him to become a translational scientist, and will benefit the research field of reproductive immunology. 

Email: j.r.prins@umcg.nl

Link to profile: https://loop.frontiersin.org/people/584191/overview and https://umcgresearch.org/nl/w/j-r-prins

Marie van Djik

Marie van Dijk is a group leader at the Reproductive Biology Laboratory of the Amsterdam University Medical Centers, the Netherlands. The focus of her research lies on the functional genomics and epigenetics of proper placenta and embryo development during pregnancy as this is critical for the delivery of a healthy baby. She uses human models systems (induced pluripotent stem cells, trophoblast stem cells, placental organoids and explants) to investigate these developments normally occurring in the first trimester of human pregnancy. Her main motivation for performing research into this area is to increase knowledge on how cell differentiation mechanisms work and how these affect both the health of the mother and the fetus.

Marie is chair of the upcoming IFPA 2021 meeting and ad interim treasurer of the European Placenta Group.