Explore This Lab

Overview

Andrea Edlow, MD, MsC, is a member of the Obstetrics and Gynecology Faculty at Harvard Medical School and a Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital.

The laboratory of Andrea Edlow, MD, MSc, at Massachusetts General Hospital investigates the effects of maternal immune activation on fetal brain development and offspring behavior, and how these effects are modified by placental immune activation and fetal sex.  Our work focuses on pre-clinical models (rodent) of maternal diet-induced obesity, and translational work with maternal COVID-19 infection in pregnancy.

Our lab was one of the first to use amniotic fluid supernatant and umbilical cord blood to investigate real-time fetal brain development in obese human pregnancy.

Gene expression profiling of these two biofluids identified abnormal gene expression signatures in fetuses of obese women, highlighting dysregulated brain development and increased inflammation.

Using a validated mouse model of maternal diet-induced obesity, we have demonstrated significant sex differences in the impact of maternal obesity on embryonic brain development, catecholamine neurotransmitter signaling, and offspring neurobehavior.

Maternal diet during pregnancy and lactation also significantly influences in utero brain development and offspring behavior.

Ultimately, we anticipate this work will provide targets for a lifestyle/behavioral intervention, and possibly for prenatal therapies that could be given orally to obese pregnant women, to reverse or ameliorate deleterious structural and functional changes.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, our lab pivoted to expand our focus to maternal SARS-CoV-2 infection in pregnancy. Partnering with a multi-disciplinary team, we have worked across the Mass General Brigham system to establish one of the largest COVID-19 Pregnancy Biorepositories in the country. Through these samples generously provided by enrolled participants, we have generated key insights into maternal immune response, vertical transmission and placental antibody transfer.

Recent work on COVID-19

In the News

Review: COVID-19 Vaccination in Pregnancy and Lactation: Current Research and Gaps in Understanding - Front. Cell. Infect. Microbiol. - Sept. 16, 2021

Podcast: Women’s Health: Fertile Ground for COVID Myths / Andrea Edlow, Stephanie Gaw, Alice Lu-Culligan, Leena Mithal, Steve StecklowEPIDEMIC with Dr. Celine Grounder 

COVID-19 Vaccination During Pregnancy Likely Benefits Moms and BabiesNICHD - Sept. 13, 2021

COVID vaccine effective in pregnant womenThe Naked Scientist (BBC) - April 20, 2021

More Signs COVID Shots Are Safe for Pregnant WomenWebMD - April 20, 2021

Covid-19 Vaccinations of Pregnant Mothers Also Protect Newborns, Studies Suggest – Mar. 31 - The Wall Street Journal

Vaccination Calculus is Changing for New Parents – Mar. 31 - The Atlantic

Estudio revela cómo vacunas contra COVID-19 podrían beneficiar a embarazadas y sus bebés – Mar. 30 - Telemundo (video)

Pfizer, Moderna COVID Vaccines Safe for Pregnant Women – Mar. 29 - WebMD

Pregnant women 'didn't have the data' – until now: COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, even for babies, study shows - Mar. 27  – USA Today

Reporte: vacunas de Pfizer y Moderna son efectivas en embarazadas y lactantes - Mar. 26 - Telemundo

COVID-19 Vaccination Response in Pregnant and Lactating Women: A Cohort Study - Mar. 25 - American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology

Pregnant women show robust immune response to COVID-19 vaccine, study finds - Mar. 25 - TODAY

Pfizer and Moderna are safe and effective in pregnant women, provide antibodies to newborns - Mar. 25 - ABC News

Study says Covid-19 vaccines provide protection for pregnant and lactating women—and their newborns
– Mar. 25 - CNN

Pregnant Or Lactating? Vaccinated People Might Be Passing On COVID Immunity To Their Babies - Mar. 2021 - Washington Post

Vaccinated Mothers Pass Covid Antibodies to Babies In Utero and Through Breastmilk, Early Studies Show - Mar. 2021 - WBUR

Edlow Lab on CBS News to talk COVID-19 Vaccine Safety and Efficacy in Pregnancy - Mar. 2021- CBS News

Dr. Edlow's Research Named a Top Science Advance of the Year! - Jan. 2021 - NICHD Director’s Corner

Evidence Builds That Pregnant Women Pass Covid Antibodies to Newborns - Jan. 2021- New York Times

Research reveals compromised transfer of SARS-CoV-2-specific antibodies through the placenta - Dec. 2020 - Mass General

Pregnant women with COVID-19 don’t pass virus to newborns, but also may pass fewer-than-expected antibodies to newborns - Dec. 2020 - Mass General

NORCH Newsletter Investigator Spotlight: Andrea G. Edlow, MD, MSc - Nov. 2019

Lab Members

Principal Investigator

Andrea Edlow, MD, MSc

Andrea Edlow, MD, MSc
Associate in Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital
Associate Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, Harvard Medical School




Laboratory Staff

Shook headshot

Lydia Shook, MD 

Dr. Shook is a Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialist in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, and an Investigator in the Vincent Center for Reproductive BiologyShe received her undergraduate and medical degrees from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, and completed residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Yale-New Haven Hospital. She recently completed the Maternal-Fetal Medicine fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital in 2021, during which time she joined the Edlow lab as a Vincent Research Fellow to explore how maternal exposures and disease states, such as obesity, might affect fetal development through placental inflammation and immune activation. She was awarded the BWH/MGH NICHD WRHR (Women’s Reproductive Health Research) Faculty Career Development Award to support her work with the Edlow Lab investigating the impact of maternal SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy.


Rose DeGuzman, PhD

Rose DeGuzman, PhD – Behavioral Neuroscientist and Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr. Rose M. De Guzman is a behavioral neuroscientist and postdoctoral research fellow. Prior to joining Dr. Andrea Edlow’s lab, she received her B.S. in Nutritional Biochemistry at UC Davis and earned her Ph.D. in Behavioral Neuroscience at University at Albany, NY. In the laboratory of Dr. Damian G. Zuloaga, her Ph.D. dissertation investigated alterations in corticotropin-releasing factor receptor type 1 levels within the hypothalamus and preoptic area during the postpartum period. Outside of lab, she is actively involved in organizations that mentor and empower high school students, first-generation college students, women in neuroscience and underrepresented minorities.


Sara Brigida

Sara Brigida - Research Technician

Sara completed her undergraduate studies in neuroscience at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY. During her time at Skidmore she studied circadian rhythms in the Possidente Lab and social bias and inequities in the Social Cognition and Intergroup Dynamics Lab. Sara is now a Research Technician I in the Edlow Lab, where she works with Dr. Edlow and staff to study the effects of maternal obesity on offspring behavior and brain development. She hopes to continue to graduate school and study neuroscience in the future. Fun fact: Sara co-hosted Italian Radio Hour in college and enjoys taking ballet classes in her spare time.


Nayak headshotRuhi Nayak - Research Assistant

Ruhi Nayak is an undergraduate student studying Government and Global Health and Health Policy at Harvard College in Cambridge, MA. Ruhi serves as a Research Assistant in the Edlow Lab, where she works with Dr. Edlow and staff to study the impact of SARS-CoV-2 infection in pregnancy. She hopes to attend medical school and to continue studying the intersection of medicine and public policy in the future. 

Lab Alumni

  • Ruthy Glass, PhD, postdoctoral fellow. Current position: Associate Consultant, IQVIA
  • William Jin, BS, lab technician. Current position: Master’s student, Boston University

Postdoctoral Position Available

We are recruiting a postdoctoral fellow to work in the Edlow Laboratory within the Vincent Center for Reproductive Biology on NIH-funded projects focused on fetal brain-placental immune activation in the setting of maternal immune activation. Maternal immune-activating conditions of interest include obesity, diabetes, and viral infections. Experience in immunology, placental biology, neuroscience and/or systems/computational biology is ideal, but not required. Our research broadly focuses on the programming effects of maternal immune activation on fetal and offspring brain development and behavior, and the placenta-brain connection. We utilize pre-clinical models and human samples to explore mechanisms underlying neurodevelopmental and metabolic morbidity in offspring exposed to immune activation in utero. We also focus on the impact of offspring sex on these outcomes. Our approach is multidisciplinary and highly collaborative. Our laboratory is affiliated with Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, as well as with the Innovation Center on Sex Differences in Medicine at Mass General.

Job Description

The Edlow Laboratory for basic and translational research is sited in the Vincent Center for Reproductive Biology (VCRB) on the main campus of Massachusetts General Hospital. Ongoing studies focus on the neurodevelopmental and metabolic programming effects of maternal obesity, maternal high-fat diet, and maternal viral infection (e.g. with SARS-CoV-2) during pregnancy and lactation. We work both with mouse models of maternal obesity as well as with human participant samples (placenta, maternal blood, cord blood, breastmilk and others). We evaluate the impact of maternal immune activation on placental and fetal immune activation. In the murine model, we assess fetal, juvenile, and adult offspring brain development using molecular and immunohistochemical techniques, as well as neurobehavioral testing. Areas of focus include: (1) the effects of maternal immune activation on offspring cognition and mood outcomes (anxiety, depression), particularly as they relate to neuroinflammation and brain-immune interactions; (2) Developing novel cellular models of fetal brain development using proxy cell types; (3) Developmental programming of offspring feeding behaviors (reward-based feeding governed by the mesolimbic dopamine circuit) and offspring metabolic parameters (including insulin resistance, body fat composition, and dysregulation of leptin, ghrelin, and other peripheral and central hormonal signaling); (4) Utilizing novel targeted therapeutics to improve offspring neurodevelopmental outcomes; and (5) Elucidating the role of fetal and offspring sex in mediating the effects of maternal diet-induced obesity on neurodevelopment. 

Experience in the following is either required or preferred (as indicated):
- Extensive experience with molecular techniques including RNA/DNA/protein assays (required)
- Experience with cell isolations from tissue and blood (animal or human) and with techniques such as RNA-sequencing and flow cytometry/FACS (preferred)
- Experience with mouse models and handling, including rodent surgery (preferred)
- Experience either performing or working with bioinformatics analyses of sequencing data (preferred, but can provide training for interested applicants)
- Experience with brain retrieval, tissue preservation for immunohistochemical analyses, brain or placental sectioning and tissue staining, and neurobehavioral testing (preferred)
- Skill in collection, organization, management, and analysis of complex data sets (required)
- Skill in experimental design, protocol development, and troubleshooting (required)
- Skill in data analysis using statistical analytical tools is required. Experience with Graphpad Prism and/or SPSS/STATA/SAS is preferred. 
- Experience preparing manuscripts for publication, experience with review and summarization of relevant literature for manuscript background and grant preparation (required). Preparation of study findings and presentation at professional meetings will also be strongly encouraged.

There are many opportunities for education and growth in our multidisciplinary, collaborative research program that brings together a diverse group of obstetrician-gynecologists, neuroscientists, immunologists, endocrinologists, animal neuroimagers at the world-class Athinoula Martinos Center for Brain Imaging, and translational and clinical researchers at the Innovation Center on Sex Differences in Medicine. 

Requirements

Applicant should have a PhD.

Please email a CV and cover letter of interest to Ms. Jamie Murphy, Administrative Director for the Vincent Center of Reproductive Biology, at JPMURPHY1@mgh.harvard.edu, indicating that you are applying for the postdoctoral position in Dr. Edlow’s lab. Contact information for three professional references (names, address, phone and e-mail) will also be requested during the interview process.

Massachusetts General Hospital is a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School and an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, protected veteran status or status as an individual with a disability.


Publications

Selected Publications