The aim of our laboratory is to understand the role of the placenta in a range of disease states. The placenta mediates multiple aspects of a successful pregnancy and placental dysfunction is implicated in gestational disorders such as gestational diabetes mellitus, preeclampsia, intrauterine growth restriction, preterm birth and stillbirth. The placenta also regulates many aspects of fetal development such that suboptimal placental function has been shown to increase the risk of metabolic disease, heart disease, kidney disease and psychological disorders in offspring.

Our group utilises both clinically relevant animal models and biological samples provided by pregnant women to better understand how a range of maternal parameters can influence these outcomes. We are particularly interested in understanding how maternal thyroid disease, nutrient status and stress can influence key biological processes necessary for a healthy pregnancy.  We are also interested in gaining a better understanding of the impact of certain medications used to treat pregnancy disorders, such as metformin, on maternal and fetal physiology 

While not limited to just studying placental endocrinology, the relationship between placental function and hormones in pregnancy is a key theme in multiple projects within the group. This includes hormones of placental origin that may affect the mother and fetus but also maternal hormones that may impact placental function. Our group always characterises outcomes in both males and females separately as fetal sex plays a major role in determining disease risk and severity of symptoms.

The Cuffe group is actively recruiting enthusiastic honours and PhD students who have a desire to undertake research to improve the health of pregnant women and their babies. Please contact James Cuffe directly for further information.