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Cambridge Reproduction

 

As a PhD student in the laboratory of Dr. Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz, my work focuses on early post-implantation stages in human embryos. Implantation is a critical time for human embryos, and an estimated 60% of pregnancies fail by the end of the second week post-fertilization. Embryos developing during these delicate stages have been historically inaccessible and thus they key events and mediators at this time are not well understood. Therefore, the second week of development has often been referred to as the ‘black box’ of human development. My work seeks to illuminate the black box through culture of supernumerary human embryos through implantation stages, using a method developed by our group. This has allowed us to interrogate the affect of specific aneuploidies, identify key signaling centers in the embryo, and investigate the role of specific factors and pathways during these crucial stages.

Further, I use stem cells to model the first three major lineages of the embryo – the embryonic epiblast, the hypoblast (precursor of the yolk sac), and the trophoblast (precursor to the placenta). Through a combination of stem cell models, surplus embryos, and bioinformatic tools, I seek to understand these key stages of early human development.