Our laboratory investigates specialized survival strategies used by the embryo as it grows within the uterus. Central to the embryo's survival is the formation of an organ derived from the embryo called the placenta. This organ gains access to the maternal blood supply and facilitates the delivery of nutrients to the fetus. We study how early stem cells develop into the placenta. We have learned that the placenta is built in response to cues present in the maternal environment; and diseases of pregnancy, such as preeclampsia and intrauterine growth restriction, result when the embryo is not successful in its adaptations to the maternal environment. Inadequate in utero adaptive responses have potentially long-lasting impacts on adult health and disease.