Mother Infant Research Institute (MIRI)
Mary C. Wallingford, PhD is a Principal Investigator in the Mother Infant Research Institute (MIRI) and the Molecular Cardiology Research Institute (MCRI) and an Assistant Professor of Reproductive Sciences at Tufts University School of Medicine. Dr. Wallingford is an expert in developmental biology and vascular biology research approaches. She was trained in mammalian embryology in the Mager Lab at the University of Massachusetts Amherst where she evaluated developmental roles of the transcription factor and epigenetic regulator YY1 in implantation and gastrulation.
The overarching research objective of the Wallingford Lab is to advance fundamental knowledge of placental vascular development and pathophysiology and to improve obstetric cardiovascular medicine by supporting the development of greatly needed diagnostic tools and treatment options for placental disorders. The Wallingford Lab investigates molecular mechanisms that control vascular development and pathophysiology of the least understood organ: the placenta. Normal growth and function of the placenta are essential for maternal and fetal health, both during pregnancy and later in life. Placental dysfunction can lead to preterm birth, preeclampsia (a hypertensive disorder caused by placental dysfunction), and loss of life. Mothers who have had preeclampsia are at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and coronary artery calcification. Babies who were exposed to preeclampsia are at a higher risk for hypertension and increased BMI into their teenage years and have an increased stroke risk later in life. Currently, there are few diagnostic tools and no curative therapeutic options for preeclampsia besides immediate delivery of the placenta, often necessitating preterm delivery. The dearth of early diagnostics and treatments stems in part from a lack of understanding of how the human placenta and placental diseases develop.