Perinatal Research Group

What we do

Prediction/prevention of adverse pregnancy outcome

Much of our work in this area aims to integrate complementary research themes so as to integrate clinical, metabolomic, proteomic and genetic biomarkers in the pre-symptomatic detection of obstetric complications.

Gynaecological cancers

We cover two principal themes in oncology research. The bulk of our work revolves around the pathophysiology of endometrial cancer using genomic, transcriptomic, proteomic and lipidomic approaches. Much of our emphasis is placed on understanding the role of the tumour microenvironment in carcinogenesis. We are also interested in the role of microRNAs, predictive markers for response to novel targeted therapies, and the process of epithelial-mesenchymal transition in ovarian cancer.

Modelling immune networks

This area of work focuses on using Bayesian theory-based machine learning as a strategy to model the interactions of, and clarify the mechanisms controlling, inflammatory mediators.

Imaging of placental/cervical disorders

We use 3D reconstruction of various tissues particularly placenta, in order to appreciate the microstructural anomalies associated with the development of specific pathologies. We are particularly focusing on villous structure in the context of intrauterine growth restriction and pre-eclampsia, and the microarchitecture of the cervix. We are also developing the use of small-bore DT-MRI and lightsheet microscopy in these contexts.

Interaction between nutrition and pregnancy outcome

We work closely with the epidemiology unit in order to better understand the impact of nutrition on the incidence of pregnancy complications. Much of our research in this area has focussed on maternal caffeine and anti-oxidant intake.

Our work is collaborative and links in with other leading national and international groups. We particularly value the practical contribution of our research in driving our teaching and clinical practice in order to improve women’s healthcare.


  • 2018-2021 NIHR HTA EMesis in Pregnancy – Ondansetron With mEtoclopRamide (EMPOWER) 1.6m Col.
  • 2018-2021 NIHR HTA Carboprost/Oxytocin Postpartum haemorrhage Effectiveness (COPE) £1.8m CoI.
  • 2016-2018 Department of Health Iodine in Pregnancy £1.1m CoI.
  • 2015-2019 NIHR HTA Cerclage suture type for cervical insufficiency (CSTICH) £1.1m CoI.
  • 2014-2019 Cerebra program grant £800,000 PI.

Key publications

Key publications our team has contributed to

  1. Morley LC, Shi J, Gaunt HJ, Hyman AJ, Webster PJ, Williams C, Forbes K, Walker JJ, Simpson NAB, Beech DJ (2018) Piezo1 channels are mechanosensors in human fetoplacental endothelial cells. Mol Hum Reprod doi:10.1093/molehr/gay033
  2. Nott JP, Pervolaraki E, Benson AP, Bonney EA, Pickering JD, Wilkinson N, Simpson N (2018) Diffusion tensor imaging determines three-dimensional architecture of human cervix: a cross-sectional study. BJOG 125(7):812-8
  3. Sharma SS, Greenwood DC, Simpson NAB, Cade JE (2018) Is dietary macronutrient composition during pregnancy associated with offspring birth weight? An observational study. Br J Nutr 119(3):330-339
  4. McGinnis R, Steinthorsdottir V, Williams NO, Thorleifsson G, Shooter S, Hjartardottir S, Bumpstead S, Stefansdottir L, Hildyard L, Sigurdsson JK, Kemp JP, Silva GB, Thomsen LCV, Jääskeläinen T, Kajantie E, Chappell S, Kalsheker N, Moffett A, Hiby S, Lee WK, Padmanabhan S, Simpson NAB, Dolby VA, Staines-Urias E, Engel SM, Haugan A, Trogstad L, Svyatova G, Zakhidova N, Najmutdinova D; FINNPEC Consortium; GOPEC Consortium, Dominiczak AF, Gjessing HK, Casas JP, Dudbridge F, Walker JJ, Pipkin FB, Thorsteinsdottir U, Geirsson RT, Lawlor DA, Iversen AC, Magnus P, Laivuori H, Stefansson K, Morgan L. (2017) Variants in the fetal genome near FLT1 are associated with risk of preeclampsia. Nat Genet 49(8):1255-1260
  5. Duckworth S, Griffin M, Seed PT, North R, Myers J, Mackillop L, Simpson N, Waugh J, Anumba D, Kenny LC, Redman CW, Shennan AH, Chappell LC (2016) Diagnostic biomarkers in women with suspected preeclampsia in a prospective multicenter study. Obstet Gynecol 128(2):245-52
  6. Kenny LC, Black M, Poston L, Taylor R, Myers J, Baker P, McCowan L, Simpson N, Dekker G, Roberts C, Rodems K, Noland B, Raymundo M, Walker J, North R (2014) Early pregnancy prediction of preeclampsia in nulliparous women, combining clinical risk and biomarkers; the SCOPE international cohort study. Hypertension 64(3):644-52
  7. Nykjaer C, Alwan NA, Greenwood DC, Simpson NAB, Hay AWM, White KLM, Cade JE (2013) Maternal alcohol intake prior to and during pregnancy and risk of adverse birth outcomes: evidence from a British cohort. J Epidemiol Community Health doi:10.1136/jech-2013-202934
  8. Chappell L, Duckworth S, Seed P, Griffin M, Myers J, Mackillop L, Simpson N, Waugh J, Anumba D, Kenny L, Redman C, Shennan A (2013) Diagnostic accuracy of placental growth factor in women with suspected preeclampsia: a prospective multicentre study. Circulation 128(19):2121-31


Who we are


Head of Section
Professor James Walker

View our team members

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