Research Opportunities

The following is an overview of current research and scholarly activities led by members of the Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry, Western University. If you are a graduate student looking for a niche, we strongly urge you to get in touch with the individuals cited.


Hutson/Garcia-Bournissen Lab

Research in the Hutson/Garcia-Bournissen lab focuses on perinatal drug safety, with an emphasis on determining the placental drug transfer using an  ex vivo  placental perufsion model. We believe that this understanding will allow for physicans to better assess the risk-benefit ratio and counsel people on drug use during pregnancy.

Visit the Hutson/Garcia-Bournissen Lab by clicking here

Hardy Lab

The main focus of the laboratory is investigating the role of nuclear receptors in fetal programming. While emerging epidemiological evidence suggests that the risks of adult onset diseases are inversely related to birth weight, very little is known about the genetic and/or epigenetic changes which underlie these alterations in fetal and postnatal development. Numerous animals models including maternal caloric and/or nutrient restriction, along with chemically induced gestational diabetes, hypoxia, LPS-invoked inflammation, glucocorticoid exposure, and decreased dietary protein have broadened our understanding how in utero insults may lead to restricted fetal growth. However, understanding the overall role of transcription factors involved in mediating these developmental abnormalities would provide us with better strategies in preventing the onset of adult diseases in mammals.

To address the molecular mechanisms underlying these ‘programmed' changes in nuclear receptor binding and downstream target genes, we employ chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) in tissues and in cells to examine the in vivo binding of nuclear receptors to their respective promoters throughout fetal development. This helps us identify the crucial subset of lipid-sensing nuclear receptors underlying these fetal programming events. Moreover, the use of ChIP in vivo and in vitro further enhances our understanding of how epigenetic modifications are involved in the coordinated control of gene transcription during normal and abnormal fetal development. 


Pregnancy Research Group

The Pregnancy Research Group (PRG) is led by Dr. Barbra de Vrijer and Dr. Genevieve Eastabrook. In 2016, Drs. de Vrijer and Eastabrook with co-investigators Drs Han, Lala, McKenzie, Penava, Regnault, Shepherd, and Siu were awarded a Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health and Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (CIHR/IHDCYH/SOGC) Team Grant of $746,764 for 5 years. Matching funds were provided by the Children’s Health Research Institute/Children’s Health Foundation, the Dean's office, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Women’s Development Council.

PRG has established collaborations with several universities and a multitude of researchers to study maternal, fetal and infant health. These collaborations build upon actively operating and new pilot projects to develop larger multidisciplinary and prospective studies. Our goal is to become a centre of excellence not just for the clinical care of high BMI pregnancies, but also for research innovation in this rapidly growing and vulnerable population.

The PRG focuses on the development of novel tools and biomarkers to address difficulties in diagnosis and management of pregnancy complications in women with high BMI. The PRG also studies how the maternal factors (diet, BMI, chronic stress such as inflammation) affects the baby’s metabolism and which mechanisms lead to childhood obesity, insulin resistance and diabetes. The Paediatric component of our research focuses on the fetal development throughout its most vulnerable time, the first 1000 days of life, from conception to 2 years of age.

Visit the Pregnancy Research Group website by clicking here

Renault Lab

This lab is currently looking at early environmental (during pregnancy) regulation of gene expression and organ development in the developing fetus asking the question, "How does early experience exert a sustained influence on postnatal metabolic function?"

Placental insufficiency and altered fetal nutrient supply is associated with reduced overall fetal development and growth, leading to Fetal Growth Restriction (FGR,) which represents approximately 5-7% of newborns. This altered growth comes about through a reprogramming of fetal physiology to maximize survivability in a sub-optimal in utero environment. There are now reports that these fetal alterations increase the likely hood for the development of insulin resistance and obesity in later life, as well as other associated diseases which are grouped together in the term Metabolic Syndrome. 

Shepherd Lab

Exciting research projects are currently available for Graduate students, Residents, and Honours students

  • Translational Ovarian Cancer Research Program
  • ID genes in ovarian cancer
  • Mouse models of ovarian cancer
  • Modeling ovarian cancer metastasis
  • BMP signaling in ovarian cancer

Dr. Taryn Taylor Research

Dr. Taylor collaborates with a team of skilled healthcare professionals and scholars to use qualitative research methods and scenario-based simulation to answer socially-situated research questions related to power dynamics in healthcare teams, adaptive expertise, and interprofessional communication.

Publications & Achievements

Dr. Taylor's research has been recognized for its impact and innovation:

  • Awarded the  PhD Prize for Outstanding Doctoral Research at the Association for Medical Education in Europe (AMEE).
  • Received the  Best Research in Medical Simulation in 2023 by the AMEE Simulation Committee.
  • Granted the  AFMC 2024 Young Educators Award by the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada for her contributions to medical education.

Engage with Our Research

We welcome collaboration from those interested in pushing the boundaries of healthcare teams through education and simulation. Whether you're considering graduate studies or seeking research partnerships, we encourage you to reach out.


To discuss opportunities for collaboration or learn more about our research, please contact Dr. Taylor via email:


Google scholar profile: