Interim Director: Michael J. Soares, PhD, University Distinguished Professor
The quality of postnatal life has its origins in the womb. Scientists in the Center for the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease seek to understand how maternal physiology and pathology impact fetal development and program postnatal health and disease. Pregnancy is a well conserved process and designed to ensure the survival of the species. A specialized and highly adaptive organ derived from the embryo called the placenta orchestrates pregnancy and creates the milieu in which the fetus develops. Failures in placental adaptations to the maternal environment lead to diseases of pregnancy, such as preeclampsia, intrauterine growth restriction, and pre-term birth. In utero insults have fundamental organizational effects on the developing fetus, which affect postnatal health and susceptibility to adult disease. Cardiovascular disease, obesity, and many cancers have their origins during fetal life. Consequently, the efforts of our researchers are key to improving the health and quality of life of our species.