Welcome to the Penn Lab

The Penn lab studies the role of placental factors in brain development.  The placenta produces a wide array of neuroactive hormones. This endocrine function can be disrupted in many ways— by abnormal gene expression, infection, preeclampsia, prematurity— resulting in long-term damage to the fetus or newborn. Preterm birth, which now accounts for 10% of all deliveries, provides the most extreme case of hormone loss.  To understand the placenta’s hormonal contribution to normal brain development and to loss following preterm birth, we pursue investigations that range from the development of novel mouse models to use of human infant data obtained at Packard Children’s Hospital.   Our projects focus on testing the role of placental hormones by:

We hope to open new avenues for therapeutic treatments to improve neurological outcome in preterm infants and in others at high risk of developmental brain damage due to placental injury or failure.

We are a multi-disciplinary group consisting of PhD scientists, MD clinical fellows and students at various stages (from high school to doctoral studies.)  Our collaborations span the campus from Psychiatry to Computer Science to Pathology.  We are in the Division of Neonatal and Developmental Medicine in the Dept of Pediatrics, as well as a part of the Neuroscience Program and BioX