Who is Laetitia Lecante?
I am a French Guianese postdoctoral research fellow in Prof Paul A. Fowler’s group at the Institute of Medical Sciences (Aberdeen, Scotland). Early sensitisation to the repercussions of environmental pollutions in French Guiana and poor understanding of the etiology of my mum’s endometriosis led me to develop specific interests in both toxicology and reproductive biology. Following academic training in Paris, I carried out my PhD research at the Research Institute for Environmental and Occupational Health (Rennes, France) under the supervision of Dr Séverine Mazaud-Guittot and Dr Antoine D. Rolland. This research aimed to decipher the effects of analgesics on the development of the human fetal kidney and ovary. During my PhD training, I had the valuable opportunity to spend 3 months in the Fowler lab, exploring the effects of maternal smoking on human fetal ovary development. Following completion of my PhD I moved to Montreal where I investigated the early impacts of xenoestrogens on the development of rat testis at the Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique (Laval, Canada, supervised by Dr Géraldine Delbès). I then returned to Aberdeen as a postdoctoral researcher for the Fowler lab where my research aims to unravel the impacts of early exposure to endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDCs) on the human fetal ovary and adrenal development. Out from the lab, I love exploring my creative side, reading and I’m always up for some outdoor adventures.
What was your experience of joining another FREIA lab?
It was rather challenging to move country and job during a pandemic, despite this, it has been exciting to join such a consortium where each collaborator across Europe works towards the same goal – depicting an integrative portrait of the impacts of EDCs in order to safeguard female reproduction.
What would you like to accomplish in the coming years within the FREIA project?
Provided that alterations in organ development can potentially have lifelong consequences for health, identifying markers of the deleterious effects of EDCs on the human fetal ovary and adrenal will contribute to the construction of novel Adverse Outcome Pathways which regulators and policy makers can refer to.
How are you handling the COVID-19 restrictions?
We have faced severely restricted patient recruitment for the past several months which has been challenging as most of my research relies on culture of fresh human tissues. Thus, I am currently working on an adrenal dataset which was previously collected. This will contribute to a better understanding, not only of the physiological organ development, but also of the repercussions from maternal lifestyle.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the people following FREIA?
The impacts of EDCs on male reproduction have been the main focus of attention for several decades. With increasing numbers of couples facing fertility troubles and seeking assisted reproduction, I am happy that female reproductive function disorders are gaining more attention from researchers. With this in mind, we recently reviewed the current methods used to address repercussions of prenatal environmental exposures on the mammalian ovary development. If it highlights the challenges that need to be overcome to better identify potentially deleterious substances, I strongly believe that it is with the multiplication of transversal projects like FREIA that the health of the future generations of women will be better protected.