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Health Sciences profile

Sankalita Ray

PositionPhD Student
DepartmentDepartment of Pathology (Dunedin)
QualificationsMRes(CancerBiology) MSc(BiomedicalScience)
Research summaryPerinatal translational research
  • Perinatal translational research
  • Oncology


A healthy placenta is key to a successful pregnancy. The placenta is a feto-maternal organ, which maintains feto-maternal crosstalk allowing metabolic, gaseous, and nutrition exchanges between mother and the foetus. Viral infection is one way to disturb placenta function. Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is best known for its role in cancer; however, recent evidence by the laboratory suggests it is involved in complications during pregnancy like pre-eclampsia. The question now is, does HPV affect placental function and does it influence neonatal health?

We propose that HPV affects the function of key cells in the placenta (trophoblasts) and the amount of molecular substances like microRNAs (miRNA) that pass through the placenta.


  1. To identify if key proteins are altered in trophoblasts with HPV association using placental tissue sections and in vitro techniques.
  2. To determine if telomere instability occurs with HPV association.
  3. To understand how miRNAs change during HPV infection.

At the conclusion of this study we will have a better understanding of how HPV affects pregnancy outcomes.


Reily-Bell, A. L., Fisher, A., Harrison, B., Bowie, S., Ray, S., Hawkes, M., … Fukuzawa, R., Macaulay, E. C., Devenish, C. J., Hung, N. A., & Slatter, T. L. (2020). Human papillomavirus E6/E7 expression in preeclampsia-affected placentae. Pathogens, 9(3), 239. doi: 10.3390/pathogens9030239

Kazantseva, M., Mehta, S., Eiholzer, R. A., Gimenez, G., Bowie, S., Campbell, H., Reily-Bell, A. L., … Ray, S., Drummond, C. J., Reid, G., … Wiles, A., Morrin, H. R., Reader, K. L., Hung, N. A., Baird, M. A., Slatter, T. L., & Braithwaite, A. W. (2019). The Δ133p53β isoform promotes an immunosuppressive environment leading to aggressive prostate cancer. Cell Death & Disease, 10, 631. doi: 10.1038/s41419-019-1861-1