Michael Elliot

Graduate student

The mammalian placenta is an unusual organ in that it fulfils the same functions in all species but exhibits a great degree of morphological and develomental diversity. My research has reconstructed the course of evolution of the placenta across hundreds of mammalian species and identified the relationship between morphological diversity and reproductive life history (including the role of the placenta in supporting maternal-fetal immune interactions and fetal brain development). My current research uses a functional phylogenomic approach to identify gene networks and regulatory systems involved in placental diversification with the goal of identifying the evolutionary genetic basis of human placental pathologies such as preeclampsia, hydatiform mole and choriocarcinoma.