1. Public engagement: Toolkits, Top Tips, and Creative Ideas Generation

    Organized by Michelle Desforges & Shannon Bainbridge


Engaging with the public to share our knowledge, discoveries and passion for placental research has huge importance for raising awareness, stimulating thinking, and promoting discussion. Serving as ambassadors for placental science, we can raise awareness of pregnancy complications and educate on topics such as how lifestyle can affect the health of the placenta, fetus, and lifelong health profiles for mother and baby. Research focused on placental biology can contribute knowledge and insights to diverse medical fields ranging from developmental biology, oncology, aging, and of course maternal-fetal health. Yet, topics focused on placental health and disease are infrequently given priority in medical education settings or with research funding bodies, and many members of the general public remain unaware that this field of research exists.

In this workshop, we will discuss how we can excite and entice the next generation to recognize the importance of studying placental biology, showcasing examples of public engagement activities carried out by members of our research community. The workshop will cover how we can impart knowledge of placental biology and related topics to the general public, from school children to prospective parents, to students of the sciences and medicine as well as working scientists and physicians, and no less importantly, to funders of scientific research. We will discuss how we as placental biologists can entice, stimulate and engage our scientific and medical colleagues and laypeople to our field in the coming years. Please come prepared to share your ideas and past experiences.


  1. Inputs of single-cell technologies in maternal-foetal research
    Organized by Michael Eikmans & Celine Mehats

Experiments at the single-cell level using micromanipulation, microfluidics, fluorescence-activated cell sorting, or mass spectrometry are getting more and more feasible and affordable in lab routine, thanks to improvements in devices, substantial reductions in sequencing costs, developments of ready-to-use kits, and bioinformatic pipelines. These experiments are typically designed to reveal cell population heterogeneity, to identify minority subpopulations of interest, and to discover unique characteristics of individual cells. Moreover, applying single-cell assays to placenta and maternal-foetal tissues during pregnancy holds the promise to gain comprehensive and increased insights of the cellular interplay in physiology and pathophysiology. In this workshop, we will discuss the input of single-cell assays in maternal-foetal research field with experimental feedbacks of current users of single-cell large scale data. The global aim is to offer a critical overview of affordable single cell techniques for non-specialists and to explore what insights these techniques have provided us.


  1. Animal models: the right model for the right question
    Organized by Christiane Pfarrer & Pascale Chavatte-Palmer

The workshop will be organized as a fully interactive discussion focusing on 4 categories of species and 5 scientific questions.

In the first hour of the workshop, for each species, participants will be surveyed in small groups to answer the question of how suitable these species are for each scientific question, providing science based but also any other suitable argument for the model. Each participant will be able to give his/her arguments for each species.

In the second part of the workshop, arguments listed for each species and disease will be summarized and discussed with specialists of the species and/or disease (names to be announced soon). Finally, a short overview of essential anatomical and physiological characteristics of models will be provided as a take home message.


  1. Lumps & Bumps
    Organized by Hiten Mistry & Eun Lee






Lumps and Bumps: Similarities between placentation and cancer.

There are many similarities between mechanisms of placentation and tumour growth in terms of angiogenesis, changes in hypoxia and immune responses. We will organise a workshop bringing together both these fields. This will be an ideal opportunity for similarities/differences to be discussed in an open forum and will hopefully lead to some new and exciting collaborations.


  1. Trophoblast genomics using state-of-the-art techniques
    Organized by Soumen Paul & Geetu Tuteja

Mammalian reproduction is dependent on trophoblast cells, which assure embryo implantation and placentation. Development of trophoblast cell lineage begins with specification of the trophectoderm (TE) in pre-implantation embryos. TE ensures embryo implantation and gives rise to multipotent trophoblast stem cell-like progenitor within the placenta primordium. Subsequently, lineage-specific trophoblast progenitors arise, which differentiate to specialized trophoblast subtypes leading to successful placentation. Thus, trophoblast lineage development is a multi-stage process and relies on proper maintenance of self-renewal ability within trophoblast progenitors as well as their differentiation to specialized trophoblast subtypes of a matured placenta. However, transcriptional, epigenetic and epitranscriptomics mechanisms that dictate trophoblast lineage development in a post-implantation embryo and associations of such mechanisms with pathological pregnancies are poorly understood. The workshop will include talks from various investigators, who are using unbiased genomic studies, including single-cell RNA-seq, ATAC-seq, ChIP-seq and MeRIP-seq to define global gene expression changes, chromatin dynamics and epigenetic/epitranscriptomic modifications during trophoblast lineage development. In addition, research talks will include single-cell genomics to define how trophoblast cell derivatives of the embryo contribute to restructuring the uterine environment, an event required for the establishment of a successful pregnancy. 

Confirmed presentations by 

  • Courtney Hanna, University of Cambridge, UK 
  • Michael J. Soares, University of Kansas Medical Center, USA 
  • William Pastor, McGill University, Canada 
  • Geetu Tuteja, University of Iowa, USA

Followed by a panel discussion with Courtney Hanna, Michael J. Soares, William Pastor, Geetu Tuteja & Soumen Paul

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