Multi-scale modelling of maternal and fetal interactions at the placenta, to understand pregnancy health


This webinar of the VPHi Keynote Webinar Series featuring Associate Professor Alys Clark from the Auckland Bioengineering Institute at University of Auckland took place on Monday 17 October 2022 at 10am CET under the moderation of Robyn May, member of the VPHi Student Committee.


The placenta is critical for a healthy pregnancy, as it acts as the lungs (and other organs) of the fetus over gestation. It develops a complex vasculature to enable efficient exchange, and interacts with the circulation of the uterus to establish a nutrient-rich blood supply to its surface. Identifying pregnancy complications early in gestation is important as this reduces the risk of stillbirth, and allows for appropriate monitoring of the pregnancy. In cases of pregnancy complications, there are differences in both the development of the placental circulation, and in the adaption of the uterus to pregnancy. However, finding links between observed vascular structures to clinically measurable indices of placental health is difficult. Here I will present computational modelling as a tool to interpret in-vivo and ex-vivo imaging of the placenta, linking anatomy to function. I will also discuss steps toward interpreting fetal and uterine Doppler ultrasound imaging, current clinical mainstays in pregnancy, that can be guided by computational modelling and a ‘virtual placenta’.


Alys Clark is an Associate Professor in the Auckland Bioengineering Institute at University of Auckland, New Zealand. She obtained her Degree in Mathematical Sciences from University of Oxford, UK, and her Master and PhD Degree (both in Applied Mathematics) from University of Adelaide, Australia in 2002. She currently leads research at Auckland Bioengineering Institute aiming to use computational modelling aiming to improve reproductive health, and pregnancy health.


This webinar is organised within the VPHi keynote webinar series, a quarterly event organized by the VPHi Student Committee that provides a forum for access to senior community members and their expert competence for chiefly young scientists, but also to the VPH community as a whole.

With the series, VPHi wishes to:

  • Offer added value to prospective young scientist VPHi Student members through core content
  • Create visibility of VPH knowledge dissemination for external stakeholders
  • Highlight excellence within the VPHi, additionally providing student members with a label of quality
  • Promote scientific interaction between junior and senior community members and across VPHi disciplines



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