Date(s) - 04/09/2021
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Biomechanical Functions of the Extraembryonic Tissues Throughout Pregnancy
Michelle L Oyen, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Department of Engineering, East Carolina University
Friday, April 9th, 2021 at 3:00 p.m.
A pre-implantation human blastocyst consists of two cell types: the inner cell mass and the trophoblast. These differentiate to form the embryo and the extraembryonic tissues, including the placenta and fetal membranes. From early implantation to full-term gestation, biomechanical functions relating to these extraembryonic tissues are critical in establishing and maintaining a successful pregnancy. Three case studies will be investigated in the current talk. First, early implantation and placentation will be considered when developing a microfluidics assay for trophoblast migration into the maternal decidua. Mechanical properties of the uterine tissues, including decidua and endometrium, will be investigated in this context. Next, the term placenta’s function—established only when early placentation has been successful—will be examined by computational modeling of oxygen diffusion and capillary blood flow in the terminal villi (placental exchange units). Finally, the mechanical fracture of fetal membranes will be studied in the context of term and preterm birth. Bioengineering investigations of pregnancy have great potential to elucidate fundamental aspects of reproductive physiology that are otherwise difficult to investigate, taking advantage of in vitro and in silico approaches. With the recent publicity about poor maternal and fetal outcomes even in the developed world, fundamental biomechanical research into the placenta and its role in preterm birth is timely and necessary.
Michelle L. Oyen is an Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering in the Department of Engineering, East Carolina University. Prior to joining ECU in 2018, she was based at the Cambridge University Engineering Department in Cambridge, England, where she was a Lecturer (2006-2013) and Reader (2013-2018) in Bioengineering as well as a Fellow (2012-2018) of Homerton College Cambridge. Michelle has degrees in Materials Science and Engineering (BS), Engineering Mechanics (MS), and a PhD in Biophysical Sciences. Her research interests are in biomaterials, biomechanics, tissue engineering, and in the emerging field of using bioengineering tools for studying pregnancy.