Jansson-Powell Lab

The placenta determines life-long health.

Jansson-Powell Lab

The placenta determines life-long health.

In the Jansson-Powell Lab, our research is focused on exploring the cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate placental function in normal pregnancy and in pregnancy complications and to investigate the role of the placenta in determining fetal growth and long-term health. We employ physiological, molecular and translational approaches, ranging from functional and molecular studies to interventions in high-risk human pregnancies. Our lab utilizes a wide variety of model systems including primary human trophoblast cells and explants, human placental tissue, mice, rats, and non-human primates. A large body of evidence shows that diseases of major importance to public health, including obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease originate in early life. In particular, changes in fetal nutrient availability and growth have been shown to strongly associate with chronic diseases in adult age. Fetal nutrient availability is largely controlled by placental function and we have proposed that placental nutrient sensing, a novel function of the placenta, determines life-long health. 

Current projects include studies of the impact of lipids on placental function, the role of mTOR signaling in placental nutrient sensing, trophoblast regulation by adiponectin, placental specific conditional gene targeting in the mouse, identifying mechanistic links between maternal obesity, altered placental function, fetal overgrowth an adult health using a novel mouse model of obesity in pregnancy, and discovering novel interventions for high-risk pregnant women and their babies.

We have extensive track record in mentoring post-doctoral fellows, which most recently include Amy Kelly (Currently Research Scientist University of Arizona), Owen Vaughan (currently Non- Clinical Lecturer in Fetal Physiology and Prenatal Therapy at University College London), Marisol Castillo-Castrejon (Currently Assistant Professor Assistant Professor of Research at University of Oklahoma) and Irving Aye (Current position: CTR Next Generation fellow, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom). Moreover, we have long experience in mentoring clinical fellows to a successful completion of their thesis projects. Examples of recent OB-GYN clinical fellows in our lab include Cassandra Roeca (REI), Jonathan Steller (MFM), Natalia Grindler (REI) and Rebecca Jessel (MFM).

Thomas Jansson, MD, PhD  

International Federation of Placenta Associations (IFPA) award 'in recognition of outstanding contributions to the field of placentology' (2005)

President’s Achievement Award, The Society for Reproductive Investigation (2017)

Theresa Powell, PhD

Giorgio Pardi Foundation Senior Scientist Award (Society for Gynecologic Investigation) (2010)


Normal fetal growth and development are dependent on nutrient availability, which is a critical function of the placenta.  Both inadequate and excess fetal nutrition lead to the development of pregnancy complications, such as intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) and fetal overgrowth. Epidemiological data suggests that pathological fetal growth, and therefore altered placental function, increases the risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer in adult life. This offers unprecedented opportunities to develop novel strategies targeting the placenta to treat complications in pregnancy and to prevent the development of disease in childhood and in adult life. However the underlying mechanisms remain elusive. Our research program addresses this significant gap in knowledge. In particular, we systematically study placental function in animal models and in the human.



Contact Info

Olivia Castillo
Division Administrator
12700 East 19th Avenue
Room 3000D, MS 8613
Aurora, CO 80045

Phone: (303) 724-4144


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