MANA PARAST, MD, PHD
In this episode of the Stillbirth Matters Podcast Chris Duffy visits with Dr. Mana Parast.
Dr. Parast is currently Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology at the University of San Diego School of Medicine. She is board certified in Anatomic Pathology and specializes in Gynecologic and Perinatal Pathology.
Dr. Parast received her Ph.D. in Cell Biology (2000) and her M.D. in Medicine (2002) from the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA. During that time, she held the prestigious Medical Scientist Training Program fellowship. Dr. Parast then completed a six month postdoctoral research fellowship and residency training in anatomic pathology at Emory University, Atlanta Georgia, from January 1, 2002 through June 2005. In July 2005, Dr. Parast moved to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in affiliation with Harvard Medical School in Boston. There, she completed additional clinical training in the area of Gynecologic and Perinatal Pathology, and later combined subspecialty sign-out with laboratory research, initially as a fellow and later as an instructor at Harvard Medical School.
Dr. Parast’s clinical focus is in the area of gynecologic and perinatal pathology. In particular, she is interested in histologic changes in placentas in cases of perinatal morbidity and mortality.
Dr. Parast’s laboratory studies the development and function of the placenta, a unique transient organ essential for proper fetal development. The placenta is derived from fetal trophectoderm, which differentiate into multiple subtypes of trophoblast, with different cellular characteristics and function. Villous trophoblast, including cytotrophoblast and syncytiotrophoblast, serve as oxygen and nutrient exchange interface, while extravillous trophoblast invade maternal decidua and spiral arterioles and establish a blood supply for the growing placenta. Alterations in trophoblast differentiation and function lead to placental hypoxia and insufficiency, and to various obstetric diseases and complications, including pre-eclampsia and intra-uterine growth restriction. Using primary mouse trophoblast stem cells, human trophoblast cell lines, as well as primary human trophoblast cultures and placental explants, they are exploring the role of several transcription factors involved in trophoblast differentiation, and their regulation by oxygen tension.
Dr. Parast was the first to characterize palladin, a protein that associates with the actin cytoskeleton and with focal adhesions, regulating cell adhesion. This work was published in J. Cell Biol. Capitalizing on her emerging expertise in cell adhesion and migration, Dr. Parast published a second paper focusing on trophoblast giant cells in Developmental Biology. More recently, Dr. Parast is studying cell-signaling and differentiation pathways in trophoblast stem cells. Her work is directly relevant to major illnesses in the Obstetrics field.
Dr. Parast has been a featured speaker at the previous Stillbirth Summit events held in 2017 and 2014.