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Prof Ashley Moffett Professor of Reproductive Immunology


Ashley Moffett is a University Professor in Reproductive Immunology. She trained in general medicine and then specialised in reproductive pathology. 

Research Interests

The question we are addressing is:  how does the maternal immune system regulate placentation in humans?  Our view of the fetal allograft is one of cooperation between mother and fetus.  We focus on how the dominant population of uterine leukocytes, Natural Killer (NK) cells, that have receptors for HLA class I ligands on fetal trophoblast cells, regulate trophoblast function.

We work in close collaboration with Dr Francesco Colucci in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

The main areas of current research are:

1)    Interactions between maternal Killer-cell Immunoglobulin-like Receptor (KIR) and fetal HLA-C molecules.  Because both KIR and HLA-C genes are highly polymorphic, each pregnancy is likely to be different.  Our genetic and functional studies in Europeans and Africans show certain KIR/HLA-C genetic combinations are associated with extremes of  the normal birth weight distribution.

2)    Culture of human trophoblast cells.  Studies on pregnancy disorders are limited because trophoblast stem cell lines have not been obtained.  We are working to identify, isolate and culture trophoblast cells from early pregnancy.

3)    Maternal Health Research Unit linked to Makerere University, Mulago Hospital, Kampala, Uganda.  After the success of our initial project studying Immunogenetics of KIR/HLA-C variants linked to pre-eclampsia in Ugandans, we are now extending the link to investigate puerperal sepsis and obstructed labour.  I lead the maternal health theme as part of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Global Health Research.

Between 2013 and 2018, the Centre supported collaborative partnerships and scientific training activities in basic biomedical and health-related research. This was achieved through coordinated cross-faculty research across departments and research institutes in Cambridge including The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute