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Kaela Varberg, Ph.D.

Research Assistant Professor

Faculty Website



Lawrence, Kansas



B.S. Biochemistry, Rockhurst University. 

PhD: Kinetic and vasculogenic analyses of endothelial colony forming cells exposed to intrauterine diabetes; Department of Cellular and Integrative Physiology, Indiana University School of Medicine (Laboratory of Laura S. Haneline).



NIH F32 Postdoctoral Fellowship 2018-2021, Lalor Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship 2018

NIH K99-R00 Pathway to Independence Award 2022-2027


Research interests: 

I am fascinated by fetal/maternal interactions during development and the impact of abnormal intrauterine environments on long-term disease risk. I utilize a combination of human cell culture and rat models to study the regulation of placentation and mechanisms underlying pregnancy complications, such as preeclampsia, associated with insufficient spiral artery remodeling.  Specifically, the aim of my project is to identify critical and conserved gene regulatory networks of invasive trophoblast lineage development critical to spiral artery invasion and remodeling.  Ultimately, I hope to identify conserved mechanisms of placental remodeling with translational potential for human disease.


Kuna M, Dhakal P, Iqbal K, Dominguez EM, Kent LN, Muto M, Moreno-Irusta A, Kozai K, Varberg KM, Okae H, Arima T, Sucov HM, Soares MJ. CITED2 is a conserved regulator of the uterine-placental interface. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2023 Jan 10;120(3):e2213622120. PMID:36626551.

Muto M, Chakraborty D, Varberg KM, Moreno-Irusta A, Iqbal K, Scott RL, McNally RP, Choudhury RH, Aplin JD, Okae H, Arima T, Matsumoto S, Ema M, Mast AE, Grundberg E, Soares MJ. Intersection of regulatory pathways controlling hemostasis and hemochorial placentation. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2021 Dec 14;118(50):e2111267118.


Varberg KM, Soares MJ. Paradigms for investigating invasive trophoblast cell development and contributions to uterine spiral artery remodeling. Placenta. 2021 May 3:S0143-4004(21)00130-2.


Varberg KM, Iqbal K, Muto M, Simon ME, Scott RL, Kozai K, Choudhury RH, Aplin JD, Biswell R, Gibson M, Okae H, Arima T, Vivian JL, Grundberg E, Soares MJ. ASCL2 reciprocally controls key trophoblast lineage decisions during hemochorial placenta development. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2021 Mar 9;118(10):e2016517118.


Nteeba J, Varberg KM, Scott RL, Simon ME, Iqbal K, Soares MJ. Poorly controlled diabetes mellitus alters placental structure, efficiency, and plasticity. 2020 Jun;8(1).


Varberg KM, Garretson R, Blue EK, Haneline LS.  Elevated Transgelin1 is sufficient to induce dysfunction in endothelial colony forming cells from gestational diabetic pregnancies. 2018 Oct; Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 315(4):C502-C515.


Soares MJ, Varberg KM, Iqbal K. Hemochorial Placentation: Development, Function, and Adaptations. 2018. Biol Reprod. 99(1):196-211.


Varberg KM, Winfree S, Dunn KW, Haneline LS. Kinetic Analysis of Vasculogenesis quantifies endothelial colony forming cell network formation in vitro. J Vis Exp. 2018 Jan;(131).


Soares MJ, Varberg KM. Trophoblast. In Reference Module in Biomedical Sciences, Elsevier, 2018, ISBN 9780128012383.


Varberg KM, Winfree S, Chu C, Tu W, Blue EK, Gohn CR, Dunn KW, Haneline LS.  Kinetic analyses of vasculogenesis inform mechanistic studies.  2017. Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 312(4):C446-458.


Gohn CR, Blue EK, Sheehan B, Varberg KM, Haneline LS.  Mesenchyme Homeobox 2 enhances migration of endothelial colony forming cells exposed to intrauterine diabetes mellitus.  2016. J. Cell. Physiol. 232(7):1885-1892.


Blue EK, Sheehan B, Nuss Z, Boyle F, Hocutt C, Gohn CR, Varberg KM, McClintick J, Haneline LS.  Epigenetic regulation of PLAC8 contributes to altered function of endothelial colony forming cells exposed to intrauterine gestational diabetes mellitus. 2015. Diabetes. 64(7):2664-75.

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