Reproductive, Stem Cell and Perinatal Biology

  • The Division of Reproductive, Stem Cell and Perinatal Biology (RSCPB) is the home for outstanding basic and translational science within the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology complementing the Divisions of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (REI) and Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM). Current faculty study germ cells, ovarian hormonal regulation, pluripotent stem cells, pre-implantation development, placental development and related reproductive and obstetrical complications.

Aaron Hsueh, Ph.D.

Dr. Aaron Hsueh is an ovarian physiologist and has published in the field for 35 years. His lab has investigated the hormonal regulation of granulosa cell functions, leading to the establishment of an in vitro FSH bioassay and the design of a long-acting FSH analog for clinical use. His lab also contributed to the understanding of ovarian follicle growth and atresia, Aaintraovarian mechanisms of oocyte maturation and autocrine regulation of early embryonic development. Dr. Hsueh established and maintains the Ovarian Kaleidoscope Database (OKdb) over the last 15 years as an online resource for ovarian researchers. Recently, his lab established an In Vitro Activation (IVA) method to activate dormant ovarian primordial and secondary follicles to derive mature oocytes, leading to a new infertility therapy that has successfully resulted in the birth of healthy babies. Lab

Vittorio Sebastiano, Ph.D.

Dr. Sebastiano joined the faculty in the fall of 2014. The thread of Ariadne that connects germ cells, preimplantation development and pluripotent stem cells is the focus of research in the Sebastiano Lab. The zygote originates from the fusion of two highly specialized germ cells (the sperm and the oocyte) and in a few days develops into a blastocyst with a pluripotent cell population (the inner cell mass). These cells diverge from the extraembryonic cells of the trophoectoderm (will form the placenta) and can give rise to embryonic stem cells, in which a perpetual pluripotent and undifferentiated state is maintained. The long-term goals of the Sebastiano Lab include: 1) Understanding the biology of germ cells and a their ability to sustain early phases of preimplantation development; 2) Understanding the mechanisms that regulate very early cell fate decisions in human embryos and 3) Understanding the biology of Pluripotent Stem Cells and the mechanisms that lead to their formation also in the context of iPSCs derivation. Lab

Virginia Winn, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Winn joined the faculty in the summer of 2014 coming from University of Colorado School of Medicine. Her research program focuses on improving the health of mothers and their offspring. Central to this goal are her investigations of human placental development and the obstetrical complications associated with placental dysfunction. Current studies focus predominately on the pregnancy-specific condition known as preeclampsia, characterized by new onset hypertension and proteinuria in the second half of pregnancy. The placenta is the inciting organ for this condition as once the placenta delivers the disease resolves. Investigations include determining the role of a number of placental expressed preeclampsia-associated genes (Siglec-6, leptin and PAPP-A2) on trophoblast differentiation and invasion, which is often impaired in placentas of pregnancies complicated by preeclampsia. The laboratory also carries out studies to determine the role of endothelial progenitor cells in preeclampsia pathogenesis as well as determine biomarkers of disease. A second line of investigation focuses on determining the impact of pregnancy on the maternal immune system and dissecting the mechanism by which pregnancy ameliorates rheumatoid arthritis. These studies also address the mechanisms that allow for maternal-fetal tolerance. A recent line of investigation for Dr. Winn is developing methods to assess human placental function during an ongoing pregnancy through assessment of placental exosomes in the maternal blood. Lab

Support Staff

Daychin Campbell
Administrative Assistant

Cynthia Klein
Senior Lab Manager

Ellen Lewanda
Facilities Manager

Malinda Chan
Grants Manager

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