Research interests

  • Melatonin and serotonin in placental function and fetal development
  • Stress, anxiety and depression (SAD) maternal and the mother-placenta-fetal axis
  • Maternal exposure to pathogen, virus and toxins and placental function

My laboratory is interested to elucidate the effect of environmental factors (contaminant, stress, depression, pathogens and pharmaceutical drugs) and obstetric complications (preeclampsia, preterm birth and gestational diabetes) as well as the role/impact of fetal sex on placental endocrine function and fetal development. We are especially interested in understanding the role and mechanisms of action of serotonin and melatonin in placental function and fetal development. Our team have demonstrated that serotonin and melatonin are produce de novo by the placenta and plays a crucial role in fetal heart and brain development. The placenta is a multifunctional organ essential to mammalian development. A poorly functioning placenta can lead to miscarriage, fetal growth restriction, or premature birth, as well as lifelong effects on health. Our research program focused on the effect of maternal prenatal stress, depression, pharmaceutical drugs and chemical toxins on placental function as a new approach to determine the potential teratogenicity and toxicity. Our research hypothesis is that exposure to environmental factors during pregnancy induce alterations/adaptations of placenta serotonin, melatonin and glucocorticoid system as well as endocrine function and by consequence on fetal development in a sex-specific manner. The mother-placental-fetal relationships present an original approach to examine the effects of environmental factors, pharmaceutical drugs and maternal stress/depression which may have long-term consequences on the development and programming of the fetus. Our ongoing studies are also focused to develop new model (co-culture model and placenta-on-chips) to study the impact on environmental factor and pathogens on the mother-placenta-fetal axis. The aim is that this new technology will both accelerate discovery and permit more elaborate experimental designs than previously possible, to the benefit of our research program and those of our collaborators. Our long-term goal is to improve the health of pregnant mother and their offspring.

Members of the laboratory

Christian Sanchez, BSc
MSc student

Natan Keremov, BSc
MSc student

Ghida Baalbaki, MSc
PhD student

Josianne Bienvenue-Pariseault, MSc
PhD student

Linda OK, MSc
PhD student

Hélène Pinatel  Baalbaki, MSc
PhD student