WHAT DO WE DO?
At the Raha Lab, we utilize in vitro (cell culture) and in vivo (animal models and human samples) models to understand the role of mitochondrial function/dysfunction in modulating placental function. The laboratories interests include exploring the mechanisms and clinical outcomes underpinning the actions of pharmaceuticals, environmental chemicals and western diets during gestation. In particular, we are interested in investigating the role of altered mitochondrial signalling, as a consequence of various stressors, in contributing to fetal growth and healthy fetal and postnatal development. How do these signals contribute to changes in the function of the baby’s tissues and result in changes in life-long health?
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
Life-long health starts at the moment of conception. Genetic and environmental factors come together to “program” a baby’s health from very early in development. Poor developmental programming can lead to increased risk of disease over the course of an individual’s life. Our team works to understand how these chemicals and drugs affect the placenta and ultimately the organs and tissues of the baby. We hope to shed light on diseases can be stopped before they start.
EXAMPLES OF ON-GOING PROJECTS
Developing an innovative in vitro model of the human placenta that provides insights into cell-cell interactions and ethically explore issues around drug and chemical toxicity during pregnancy.
Investigating the effects of cannabis on the cellular bioenergetics of the placenta.
Developing a 3D model of white adipose tissue in order to better understand the complex interactions between adipocytes and their surrounding milieu.
The range of techniques applied in our laboratory spans molecular approaches (advanced proteomics, RT-PCR, determination of DNA methylation patterns) to cellular (immunological approaches to determining protein expression, enzyme assays, live-cell microscopy, electron microscopy) to physiological methods (evaluation of blood pressure in rodents, determination of glucose tolerance, histology, immunochemistry).