Foetal Medicine and Surgery

The Foetal Medicine and Surgery research group is a multidisciplinary team linked to BCNatal-FMRC and the University of Barcelona (UB). Its primary mission is to identify methods for the early diagnosis and treatment of disorders of prenatal origin that have an impact on childhood and adult life, based on the foetus as a patient. This can allow reduction of the prevalence and severity of certain pathologies in adults and especially of those of prenatal origin with neurological, cardiovascular and pulmonary consequences.

In the last 15 years, the group has published over 600 articles in such renowned scientific journals as NEJM, The Lancet and JAMA. Moreover, it has obtained funding for a total of 30 million euros from institutions that include the private foundation CELLEX, Cerebra Foundation, Obra Social La Caixa and La Caixa Foundation for more than 60 national and international projects.

Research lines

  • Lifestyle and fetal development interventions: To study the impact of lifestyle interventions on major obstetric syndromes and fetal development and programming.
  • Fetal treatments and interventions: To develop new technologies for a new generation of fetal surgeries.
  • CaixarResarch Artificial Placenta: To develop an artificial placenta for extreme preterm infants, which will allow the foetus to be kept outside the mother's womb in an environment as similar as possible to the womb, thus minimising the risk of sequelae.
  • Clinical research: Conduct clinical trials in pregnant women and multi-centre studies to understand and reduce complications in pregnancy.

Scientific objectives

  1. Develop a comprehensive intervention programme to improve maternal well-being during gestation; validation of the results of the IMPACT project. 
  2. Evaluation of new therapeutic strategies for foetal surgery with a pilot study of a FET-SEALING membrane sealing system and validation of a 3D pre-surgical planning system.
  3. Study of the impact of Artificial Placenta on neurodevelopment, cardiovascular and haemodynamic development, as well as the impact of hormones and foetal nutrition on development.
  4. Development of components, remote monitoring system, surgical procedures and medical management for the Artificial Placenta. 
  5. Clinical research for the management of maternal-fetal complications through the PE37 multicentre study aimed at identifying pregnant women at increased risk of developing late pre-eclampsia. 
  6. Assessment and study of intra-amniotic infection with various quantitative tests for the detection of intra-amniotic infection in collaboration with industry. 

Area/Field of expertise

Our group focuses its scope of specialisation on maternal-foetal medicine in the following fields:

  • Development of support programmes for pregnant women with the aim of providing better prenatal care: patient follow-up, biobank, and analysis of maternal and foetal samples.
  • Development of prenatal therapies to improve foetal development in experimental models: in vitro culture of neural pluripotent stem cells (neurospheres) from animal models that reproduce structural changes and compatible biomaterials for the foetal membrane sealing system.
  • Development of high-precision technologies allowing new interventions in foetal medicine and surgery: bioengineering techniques, miniaturisation and robotics to improve current foetal surgery.
  • Development of an artificial placenta and training of professionals for its use: protocols, new surgical techniques, animal models, artificial intelligence, materials engineering, and technology transfer.
  • Impact of COVID-19 on pregnant women: We have studied the impact of  SARS-CoV-2 infection on pregnant women's health.

Group members

Last Publications

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Project name:
Contrato predoctoral de formación en investigación en salud. Beneficiari: Alejandra Guadalupe Trejo
Francesca Crovetto
Funding entities:
Instituto de Salud Carlos III (ISCIII)
Starting - finishing date:
2024 - 2027
Project name:
Impacto del ambiente y estilo de vida materno en la susceptibilidad a lesiones genéticas (pre) leucémicas fetales: estudio de viabilidad y prueba de concepto
Eduard Gratacós Solsona
Funding entities:
Asociación deporte vs Cancer infantil
Starting - finishing date:
2024 - 2025
Project name:
Evaluación de los efectos de un sistema de placenta artificial en el neurodesarrollo en un modelo animal de oveja a nivel multiescala
Miriam Illa Armengol
Funding entities:
Instituto de Salud Carlos III (ISCIII)
Starting - finishing date:
2023 - 2025
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  • Impact of stress on pregnancy mental health
    Pascal Capdevila, Rosalia
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