The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 58: 87 - 93 (2014)

Vol 58, Issue 2-3-4

Special Issue: Embryo Implantation

Exploring the world of human development and reproduction

Published: 10 July 2014

Kristy Red-Horse*,1, Penelope M. Drake*,2 and Susan Fisher3

1Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, 2Redwood Bioscience, Hollis St. Emeryville, CA, USA and 3Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the Center for Reproductive Sciences, and The Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA.


Susan Fisher has spent her career studying human development, proteomics, and the intersection between the two. When she began studying human placentation, there had been extensive descriptive studies of this fascinating organ that intertwines with the mother’s vasculature during pregnancy. Susan can be credited with numerous major findings on the mechanisms that regulate placental cytotrophoblast invasion. These include the discovery that cytotrophoblasts undergo vascular mimicry to insert themselves into uterine arteries, the finding that oxygen tension greatly effects placentation, and identifying how these responses go awry in pregnancy complications such as preeclamsia. Other important work has focused on the effect of post-translational modifications such as glycosylation on bacterial adhesion and reproduction. Susan has also forayed into the world of proteomics to identify cancer biomarkers. Because her work is truly groundbreaking, many of these findings inspire research in other laboratories around the world resulting in numerous follow up papers. Likewise, her mentoring and support inspires young scientists to go on and make their own important discoveries. In this interview, Susan shares what drove her science, how she continued to do important research while balancing other aspects of life, and provides insights for the next generation.


placenta, angiogenesis, implantation, pre-eclampsia, VEGF

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