Perinatal Organ Maturation at Single-Cell Resolution
Many disorders that affect infants manifest themselves before the fetal stage. Preterm birth and developmental growth restriction prevent normal development in the second half of pregnancy. Together, these conditions are leading causes of infant morbidity and mortality. Researchers have detailed understanding about prenatal organ system development in the first half of pregnancy, but there is a distinct knowledge gap during later stages of development and shortly after birth regarding how organs mature during that time. This is of critical importance for understanding many defects in organ maturation and how to improve outcomes and treatments for preterm birth.
Although antenatal treatments exist to increase short-term survival, such as maternal corticosteroids to rapidly mature lungs, these treatments can often lead to long-term impaired development and function. This team will leverage multi-omics single-cell profiling coupled with state-of-the-art bioinformatic analysis to define cell types and states and their interactions and developmental trajectories to provide insights into organ maturation. Spatial gene expression will allow the team to map novel cell states back to tissue architecture, providing further understanding of function. This project will transform current knowledge of human organ development and maturation during a critical window of time, paving the way to discover new therapeutics, with a direct benefit to pediatric and adult health.