skip to content

Cambridge Reproduction


Thursday 13 May 2021, 1pm - 2pm

Pregnancy in a pandemic: giving voice to expecting and new parents
Kevin Glasgow (Education)

Maternal obesity alters the epigenetic landscape of oocytes and early embryos
Dr Antonio Galvao (Babraham Institute)

Chair: Dr Laura Katus (Centre for Family Research)

This seminar will take place on Zoom; to receive the meeting details, please register first at

The Early Researchers Seminar Series (ERSS) is a platform for PhD Students and early career researchers (ECRs) at the University of Cambridge with research foci on reproduction to share and discuss their research with other academics from a range of disciplines also researching reproduction at the University. Seminars are held on Zoom on the second Thursday of every month, 1pm - 2pm. For more information, and for the full 2020 - 2021 programme, please see the main ERSS page.


Speakers and abstracts

Pregnancy in a pandemic: giving voice to expecting and new parents
Kevin Glasgow (Education)

Our first 1000 days (from conception to two years of age) are a critical window of vulnerability from exposure to stress, socio-economic and health challenges. While the several national lockdowns have saved lives, secondary consequences may impart an acute and potentially enduring influence on the economic and psychological adjustment of parents, early parent-child interactions and physical growth and cognitive development of infants, well beyond the current crisis. A large international longitudinal survey is being undertaken by the Department of Psychology to better understand the impact of the pandemic on those yet to be born, by hoping to understand; (i) access and attitudes towards social, medical and financial support during the COVID-19 pandemic associate with parental stress, anxiety and depression; (ii) COVID-19 related restrictions impact on the depth and breadth of social interactions that young infants experience in the first six months of life and (iii) parental mental health and social interaction experiences mediate physical, social and cognitive development in infants.

Kevin Glasgow is a PhD student at the faculty of education here in Cambridge. Whilst he is based at the faculty of education he is also involved in the Cambridge Covid in the Context of Pregnancy, Infancy and Parenting, as well as the Cambridge Centre for Teaching and Learning online learning enquiry. His PhD work is focussing on the experience of science and religion in Scottish Catholic schools.




Maternal obesity alters the epigenetic landscape of oocytes and early embryos
Antonio Galvao (Babraham Institute)

The ovary of obese mothers presents inflammation and dyslipidemia. Therefore, the environment in which the oocyte is developing and maturing is largely altered. Noteworthy, oocyte growth regulation is controlled by the cumulus cells, the eternal somatic companions of female gamete. Furthermore, the oocyte epigenome has the potential to control initial reprogramming events in early embryo, as well as metabolic outcomes in offspring. We are investigating the impact of maternal obesity on ovarian physiology, and oocyte and early embryo epigenome. Using a combined method for profiling transcriptome and methylome, we performed low cell number, and single-cell and single blastocyst RNA-sequencing and bisulfite sequencing in cumulus cells (CC), MII-oocytes and blastocyst from C57Bl/6J (B6) mice fed chow diet (CD) or high-fat diet (HFD) for 16 weeks. Importantly, the transcriptome analysis of all CCs clearly correlated with the body weight of the mothers, denoting the impact of maternal metabolic performance on gene expression regulation of these ovarian cells. Next, we identified 1,549 differently expressed genes (DEG) after DESeq2 analysis (FDR<0.01), with upregulation of genes involved in cell metabolism and downregulation of protein transport across membranes. The methylome analysis of MIIs revealed 438 differently methylated regions across the genome, consistently hypomethylated and evenly distributed across genic and intergenic regions of the genome. Finally, the methylome analysis of blastocysts revealed 205 DMRs (p<0.05), with 10% of blastocyst DMRs coinciding with those in the oocyte, suggesting that changes in oocyte methylome can affect the blastocyst epigenome. Generally, maternal obesity alters not the surrounding environment, but also directly the oocyte epigenome, with evident repercussion for blastocyst methylome and transcriptome.

Antonio Galvao

Thursday, 13 May, 2021 - 13:00 to 14:00
Event location: 
Online, via Zoom