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DSM staff profile

Dr Erin Macaulay

PositionResearch Fellow
DepartmentDepartment of Pathology (DSM)
QualificationsBSc(Hons) PhD
Research summaryEpigenetics in the human placenta and early human development

Lab Supervisor for the Epigenetics module of the Genetics 313 laboratory (2009–present).

  • Associate Investigator and member, Gravida: National Centre for Growth and Development, a New Zealand Government Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE), 01/05/06 - present.
  • Member, Australian and New Zealand Placental Research Association (ANZPRA), 01/08/11 - present.
  • Elected member, Phi Beta Kappa (prestigious national academic honour society where selection is based on exceptionally high academic performance), inducted 05/2005, lifetime member.


The focus of my research is on epigenetics in the human placenta and epigenetic mechanisms that regulate early human development. I study the unique epigenetic profile of the placenta (compared to somatic tissues) and the lineage-specific epigenetic modifications that direct early human development.

My research also seeks to discover meaningful epigenetic aberrations that lead to abnormal placental development and function, with a particular focus on pre-eclampsia (a dangerous condition of pregnancy that is associated with abnormal placental development).


Chatterjee, A., Macaulay, E. C., Ahn, A., Ludgate, J. L., Stockwell, P. A., Weeks, R. J., Parry, M. F., Foster, T. J., … Eccles, M. R., & Morison, I. M. (2017). Comparative assessment of DNA methylation patterns between reduced representation bisulfite sequencing and Sequenom EpiTyper methylation analysis. Epigenomics, 9(6), 823-832. doi: 10.2217/epi-2016-0176

Macaulay, E. C., Chatterjee, A., Cheng, X., Baguley, B. C., Eccles, M. R., & Morison, I. M. (2017). The genes of life and death: A potential role for placental-specific genes in cancer: Active retrotransposons in the placenta encode unique functional genes that may also be used by cancer cells to promote malignancy. BioEssays, 39(11), 1700091. doi: 10.1002/bies.201700091

Chatterjee, A., Macaulay, E. C., Rodger, E. J., Stockwell, P. A., Parry, M. F., Roberts, H. E., Slatter, T. L., Hung, N. A., Devenish, C. J., & Morison, I. M. (2016). Placental hypomethylation is more pronounced in genomic loci devoid of retroelements. Genes Genomes Genetics, 6(7), 1911-1921. doi: 10.1534/g3.116.030379

Macaulay, E. C., & Bloomfield, F. H. (2016). Unravelling the link between the placental epigenome and pregnancy outcomes. Biology of Reproduction, 94(4), 82. doi: 10.1095/biolreprod.116.139915

Macaulay, E. C., Roberts, H. E., Cheng, X., Jeffs, A. R., Baguley, B. C., & Morison, I. M. (2014). Retrotransposon hypomethylation in melanoma and expression of a placenta-specific gene. PLoS ONE, 9(4), e95840. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0095840