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Centre for Trophoblast Research


Stem cell biology of the fetal-maternal interface

Our research aims to address two fundamental questions in reproductive biology: how does the endometrium prepare for pregnancy and, once the embryo implants, how is the placenta formed? During pregnancy, the maternal lining of the uterus, the decidua, and the fetal placenta interact together to provide support for the developing fetus. Despite advances in the field of reproductive biology, disorders of pregnancy resulting from aberrant placentation still occur frequently. There are ethical and practical difficulties in the use of human tissue for research and a lack of reliable in vitro tools. To overcome these issues, we have developed 3D cultures (organoids) of endometrium and placentas which show remarkable phenotypical and functional similarities to their tissue of origin. Using an interdisciplinary approach which will involve 3D culture techniques, single cell RNA sequencing and Crispr/Cas9 genome editing, we aim to unravel the basic biological processes underlying the proliferation and differentiation of these two organs. The PhD project will focus on specific aspects within these research aims, depending on your interests. The knowledge generated will have profound implications for human reproductive and developmental biology, with obvious opportunities for translational research for women and their babies. 

For further information, please contact Dr. Margherita Yayoi Turco (


Turco MY, Gardner L, Hughes J, Cindrova-Davies T, Gomez MJ, Farrell L, Hollinshead M, Marsh SGE, Brosens JJ, Critchley HO, Simons BD, Hemberger M, Koo BK, Moffett A, Burton GJ. Long-term, hormone-responsive organoid cultures of human endometrium in a chemically defined medium. Nature Cell Biology, 2017 May;19(5):568-577.