Sarah Finn-Sell

Sarah Finn-Sell, Ph.D, FHEA


If you made any changes in Pure these will be visible here soon.

Personal profile


I am a Lecturer in Physiology teaching across MBChB, BDS and Biological Sciences (BSc & MSci) degree programmes. My research interests centre on the physiology of pregnancy and placental development.


I first became interested in developmental biology as an undergraduate at the University of Cambridge having had the opportunity to present my dissertation work at The Physiological Society annual meeting. I moved to the University of Southampton in 2008 to undertake a PhD in the Institute of Developmental Sciences where my research focussed on pre-implantation embryo development and the early embryo environment, in particular how glucose metabolism and glucose concentrations were regulated in the human reproductive tract throughout the menstrual cycle. 

In 2013 I joined the University of Manchester, Maternal and Fetal Health Research Centre as a Postdoctoral Research Associate working on an MRC funded program grant with Professor Colin Sibley. The project investigated how alterations in anti-oxidant milieu and altered vascular function may contribute to Fetal Growth restriction (FGR) and addressed the efficacy of dietary antioxidants as a potential therapy for FGR.

In 2015 I returned to working on early developmental processes as a Postdoctoral Research Associate with Dr Edward Johnstone, Professor Melissa Westwood and Professor John Aplin on an MRC grant entitiled; Sphingosine-1-phosphate and vitamin D as modifiable essential mediators of human placental development. On-going work is assessing the effect of these factors on trophoblast dynamics using both in vitro and in vivo models (see Research and Projects for more details).

In September 2018 I was appointed as Lecturer in Physiology and have a broad teaching portfolio from placental development and function to cell transport physiology.  



Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA), 2018

PhD. University of Southampton, 2013

M.A. Physiology. University of Cambridge, 2008

Social responsibility

I actively engage in promoting developmental biology to the wider community. I have designed and delivered activities to explain aspects of my research to children and adults. Recent activities include:

  • Physiology Friday, October 2018
  • Before you were Born (as part of International Federation of Placental Associates annual conference), September 2017
  • British Science week, March 2018

Memberships of committees and professional bodies

  • The Physiology Society


My teaching encompasses broad aspects of physiology and my aim as an educator is to provide a learning environment that allows our students to develop as scientists through enhancing both their subject knowledge and research skills.

In 2018 I was awarded Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) in recognition of my attainment of professional teaching and learning standards in higher education against the HEA UK Professional Standards Framework.


Overview of current teaching commitments:

Lecture units

BI1OL21281- Animal Physiology

BIOL31561- Human Reproductive Biology

DENT 10001/2 – Symposia sessions (Digestion & absorption)

MEDN20002 (Nutrition & Metabolism)

Practical units

BIOL21061 - Human Sciences EDM

BIOL20942 Physiology RSM


Additionally I have extensive experience in small group teaching, delivering tutorials and PBL sessions for undergraduate biological sciences students and medical students respectively. I supervise a number of UG dissertation and project students each year (see Research and Projects for more details).


Research interests

Pre-eclampsia (PE), a serious pregnancy disorder, complicates 3-5% of all pregnancies and results in significant maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality. This is further compounded as there are currently no treatment options other than premature deliver of the fetus and placenta to resolve the condition. Whilst the etiology is not fully elucidated, it is increasingly understood to be a disease of the placenta, where shallow invasion of extravillous trophoblast (EVT) into maternal decidua in the first-trimester leads to insufficient spiral artery remodelling, and subsequently widespread endothelial activation, inflammation and placental dysfunction such that blood flow and nutrient delivery is insufficient to meet the demands of the developing fetus.

My research is interested in understanding more about these early invasion and placentation processes and current work is investigating the role of lipid signalling in EVT biology. In particular we have recently identified sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) as a potent repressor of trophoblast migration with on-going work aiming to elucidate the molecular mechanisms involved.


I currently accept dissertation and final year project students (ELP, EDU & SMP projects) in the following topics:

  • Understanding how events that occur in utero can effect adult health and disease
  • Understanding how placental development is altered in pregnancy complications (fetal growth restriction, pre-term birth & pre-eclampsia)

If you are interested in self arranging a project for 2019-2020, please drop me an email. 

Methodological knowledge

I have significant postdoctoral experience and am proficient in all standard laboratory techniques including: manipulation and analysis of DNA, RNA and proteins by multiple means. I have specialist skills in aspects of developmental biology including placental cell isolation and explant culture techniques and am proficient in vascular analysis by wire myography.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation


Dive into the research topics where Sarah Finn-Sell is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
  • 1 Similar Profiles


Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or