Explore This Lab


The goal of Dr. Phillippe's long-standing research has been to elucidate the molecular, cellular and cell-signaling mechanisms involved in and leading to the onset of both term and preterm labor (parturition).

Dr. Phillippe’s research utilizes in-vitro cell, placental and fetal membrane explant cultures, and in-vivo timed-pregnant mouse models to assess agonist-induced preterm delivery, the innate immune responses, and the molecular signaling pathways activated by the gestational tissues. 

Current Projects

Current studies in Dr. Phillippe’s laboratory address the novel hypothesis that a telomere-based gestational clock leads to apoptosis of the gestational tissues (i.e., the placental and fetal membrane), cell-free DNA (cfDNA) release by these gestational tissues, and increased production of proinflammatory mediators that ultimately result in the onset of parturition. 

Studies are ongoing to assess the effects of cadmium-induced oxidative stress on telomere shortening in the gestational tissues of timed-pregnant mice leading to preterm pregnancy loss, and the ability of antioxidants vitamins and N-acetyl cysteine to reverse this effect.

To better understand the common final pathway leading to the onset of parturition, other ongoing studies in the laboratory involve assessment of the innate immune response induced by cell-free DNA released by the gestational tissues from near term pregnant mice.

Who We Are

Meet our team

Mark Phillippe, M.D., MHCM

Physician-Investigator, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Massachusetts General Hospital

Professor in Residence of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, Harvard Medical School

Gynecologists/Obstetrician, Massachusetts General Hospital

After earning his B.S. and M.D. degrees at Northwestern University in Chicago, Dr. Phillippe completed his residency in Obstetrics & Gynecology at the Boston Hospital for Women and his fellowship in Maternal-Fetal Medicine at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston. Dr. Phillippe also earned a M.S. degree in Health Care Management (MHCM) from the Harvard School of Public Health. During his academic career, Dr. Phillippe has held faculty positions at Harvard Medical School, the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine and the University of Vermont College of Medicine. In addition to providing patient care as a Maternal-Fetal Medicine subspecialist, Dr. Phillippe has been engaged in laboratory-based translational research as a physician-scientist throughout his career. Dr. Phillippe has published over 110 biomedical papers, reviews and book chapters, and co-authored over 145 scientific abstracts. He has served on multiple local and national scientific peer review committees; and he is a member of multiple national biomedical research and professional societies.

Christine Ichugu, MSc

Research Technologist

Originally from Kenya, Christine earned her master’s degree in biomedical science from Nottingham Trent University, United Kingdom. She held a junior research scientist position at Kenya Medical Research Institute for 9 years before relocating to the USA. Christine joined Dr. Phillippe’s laboratory in the VCRB in 2023 and her work focuses on understanding the biologic clock mechanisms leading to spontaneous preterm birth; specifically, those related to the role of telomeres. Ultimately, this research is anticipated to lead to the development of interventions to improve maternal reproductive health.



Phillippe M, Adeli S.  Cell-free DNA Release by Mouse Placental Explants.  PLoS One 2017;12(6):e0178845. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0178845.  PMC5473530

Goldfarb I, Adeli S, Berk T, Phillippe M.  Fetal and Placental Stimulation of TLR9: a Mechanism Possibly Contributing to the Proinflammatory Events during Parturition.  Reproductive Sciences  2018;25:788 – 796.  doi: 10.1177/1933719117728798 [Epub in Sept 2017].  PMID: 28884630

Sawyer MR, Adeli S, Phillippe M. Cell-Free DNA Release by Mouse Fetal Membranes. Reprod Sci  2019;26:847-857. doi: 10.1177/1933719118817659. Epub 2018 Dec 20.PMID: 30572800. PMID: 30572800

Phillippe M, Sawyer MR, Edelson PK. The Telomere Gestational Clock: Increasing Short Telomeres at Term in the Mouse. Am J Obstet and Gynecol 2019;220: 496.e1-496.e8. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2019.01.218. Epub 2019 Jan 25.  PMID: 30690015

Liff I, Adeli S, Goldfarb IT, Sawyer MR, Phillippe M.  Modulation of IL10 and its Receptor Subunits in Normal and Progesterone-Prolonged Gestation in the Mouse.  Reproductive Sciences 2020 Feb;27(2):555-560. doi: 10.1007/s43032-019-00022-7. Epub 2020 Feb 3.Reprod Sci. 2020. PMID: 32016805

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