WHAT DO WE DO?
The Raha Lab team utilizes in vitro (cell culture) and in vivo (animal models and human samples) approaches 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 understanding the role of altered mitochondrial signaling, 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 (such environmental chemicals and pharmaceuticals) 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 the provides insights into cell-cell interactions and ethically explore issues around drug and chemical toxicity during pregnancy.
The Placenta is critical to fetal development and impacts life-long health. Yet it remains as one of the least understood organs of the human body; despite being disposable! Investigating the effects of mood-altering drugs and obesity on the cellular bioenergetics of the placenta is one of the primary focuses of the Raha Lab.
Developing innovative 3D models of 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).