Supervisor: Meghan Riddell
Project: Development of a placenta in a dish experimental system
Bachelor of Science General
What do you get to work on throughout your studentship?
Throughout my studentship, I have carried out experiments such as cryostat sectioning, immunohistochemistry, protein quantification via western blot, siRNA transfection, and trophoblast cell isolation. In addition to running experiments, I also have to read research articles in order to further my understanding of the project and be able to problem-solve through experiments.
How has your studentship helped you towards your career aspirations?
This studentship has allowed me to apply the knowledge I have gained in classroom settings in real life. It has forced me to think critically and problem solve. It has also made me a much more resilient person. By taking part in a summer studentship, I have been able to practice these important skills which will help me in the future regardless of what career I decide to pursue.
The placenta is a vital organ that is responsible for nutrient and gas exchange between the mother and the fetus. Placental dysfunction has been studied as a potential factor contributing to the pathogenesis of many pregnancy complications, such as preeclampsia. However, our current understanding of the placenta is limited due to the non-physiologically representative models available for research. Currently, cells isolated from placenta are grown on a plastic dish and used for research purposes. When maintained this way, they do not divide. Attempts to grow placental cells in a three-dimensional manner have led to the cells dividing, but the cell surface forms in the wrong orientation. Our goal is to develop a more accurate three-dimensional placental model in a dish where the cells divide and the surface has the proper orientation. This new model will allow researchers to answer novel research questions that could not have been answered using the existing models about how the placenta forms and the development of pregnancy complications. It could also be used for testing treatments for pregnancy complications in the future, therefore helping to improve the health of women and their children.
Note: Saba Saadat was sadly among the 57 Canadians who died in the Ukraine International Airlines crash on January 8, 2020. The Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry has written a lovely tribute to Saba, who her supervisor Meghan Riddell described as “a light, a leader, and a PhD disguised as an undergrad.” You can read the tribute here: She was like a little light. We will miss you, Saba.