Reflecting the highly addictive nature of nicotine, 50% of smokers who become pregnant will continue to smoke. In pregnant smokers, nicotine crosses the placenta to interact with nicotinic receptors expressed throughout the developing fetus. Effects of maternal smoking on fetal development include premature delivery, low birth weight, abnormal placental function, altered lung development and increased risk of asthma.
This project will focus on how maternal smoking affects placental development and the potential for maternal vitamin C supplementation to prevent some of those changes. The intern will perform a variety of laboratory procedures looking at molecular changes in the placenta, potentially including qPCR for RNA expression, immunohistochemistry of placental protein expression, and learn how to analyze the resulting data. The Division of Neuroscience at the Oregon Primate Center is dedicated to understanding links between neuroscience, neuroendocrinology and disease.