A/Prof Mahesh Choolani

A/Prof Mahesh Choolani

Research Director
Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology
Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine
National University of Singapore

Historical Landscape

Our Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology brought In-vitro Fertilization (IVF), Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD), ultrasound in Obstetrics & Gynaecology and modern labour management to Singapore, and was involved in much of the development and education of this programme in this part of the world. This successful programme led to the development of our now renowned Human Embryonic Stem Cell programme.


Current Landscape

Currently, the major issues concerning the Singapore population are (1) fewer and later pregnancies, (2) an aging population, and (3) changes in sexual behaviour that affect both pregnancy (e.g. non-consummation) and graceful ageing.

Reproductive and developmental biology cut across many boundaries, and many health and disease conditions. Understanding reproductive and developmental biology will also impact societal issues such as reproduction, which is now a top national priority.

We aim to develop a centre of excellence in reproductive and developmental biology that not only will lead to increased knowledge in these areas, but also create national leadership on reproductive issues. The Reproductive Developmental Biology Programme (RDB) has consistently encompassed a longitudinal (conceptus to end-of-life) overview of reproductive science.


Key Research Areas

We have identified two key programmes and seven sub-programmes:


  • Reproductive Stem Cells Sciences
  • Fetal Medicine and Therapy
  • Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD)


  • Integrated Women’s health Programme
  • Sexual Medicine
  • Nuclear Receptor Biology & Drug Development
  • Ovarian Cancer

Our research highlights include the 2nd- and 3rd-in the world cases of intrauterine mesenchymal stem cell therapy for fetuses diagnosed with osteogenesis imperfecta, obtaining approvals for clinical trials in stem cell tissue engineering (bone and wounds).

The Department has established the intensely annotated Translational Clinical Research birth cohorts (GUSTO), the most detailed assessment of infant development in the world. GUSTO has drawn international attention for its findings on gestational diabetes, fetal growth and cognitive development. Important management mindset shift have occurred including universal screening for GDM and early surveillance for prenatal anxiety/depression.

In terms of breakthrough science, the Nuclear Receptor and Drug Development programme has elucidated the crystal structure of the human folate receptor and plant abscisic acid receptors. For drug development, Health Sciences Authority approval has been obtained for clinical trials of the pharmaceutical-quality botanical drug Epimedium for post-menopausal osteoporosis.

The ovarian cancer group has made significant advances in the area of molecular subtyping of specific ovarian cancer using qPCR(RH) and microarray for personalized treatment. Numerous patents, industrial funding and tie-ins have also resulted from individual and collaborative efforts.

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