Aleksandra Cwiek, the CDB graduate student in the Hirschi Lab, received an American Heart Association (AHA) Predoctoral Fellowship studying retinoic acid regulation of placental vascularization. She will explore how a lack of retinoic acid, the active form of vitamin A, will affect the development of the least understood human organ, the placenta. Impaired placental development contributes to increased risk for cardiovascular diseases for mothers and children throughout their lives, highlighting a large clinical need for more research in this area. Aleksandra will use the mouse model lacking retinoic acid and will specifically explore how that affects the growth and specification of endothelial cells lining the vessels. These studies will reveal valuable insights that can ultimately be applied to developing clinical strategies to avoid placental pathologies leading to premature birth and life-threatening preeclampsia.