Dr. Parast received her Ph.D. in Cell Biology (2000) and her M.D. in Medicine (2002) from the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA. During that time, she held the prestigious Medical Scientist Training Program fellowship. Dr. Parast then completed a six month postdoctoral research fellowship and residency training in anatomic pathology at Emory University, Atlanta Georgia, from January 1, 2002 through June 2005. In July 2005, Dr. Parast moved to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in affiliation with Harvard Medical School in Boston. There, she completed additional clinical training in the area of Gynecologic and Perinatal Pathology, and later combined subspecialty sign-out with laboratory research, initially as a fellow and later as an instructor at Harvard Medical School.
Dr. Parast's research focuses on molecular mechanisms of trophoblast lineage specification, proliferation, and differentiation as related to placental development and disease. As a student of the medical scientist training program, she was trained in the laboratories of Dr. Carol Otey and Ann Sutherland, and applied cell biological techniques to the discovery of a novel actin-binding protein, which also plays a unique role in trophoblast differentiation. Later, as a research fellow in the laboratory of Dr. David Milstone at the Center for Excellence in Vascular Biology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, she expanded her training to mouse placental biology, including derivation of trophoblast stem (TS) cells from mouse blastocysts. Specifically, she derived TS cells from both wild-type and PPARg-null blastocysts and showed that the labyrinthine trophoblast lineage is dependent on the expression of this nuclear receptor. In order to become better acquainted with methods in human placental research, she also attended the week-long “Human Placenta Workshop” (a laboratory course directed by Dr. Anne Croy) at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, in October 2007. On the clinical side, she is a board-certified anatomic pathologist with subspecialty training in gynecologic and perinatal pathology. Since obtaining an independent position at UC San Diego, she has combined my strengths as a basic scientist and pathologist, and, in collaboration with Dr. Louise Laurent (Assistant Professor in the Department of Reproductive Medicine at UC San Diego), established protocols for optimal banking of placental tissues. Her research applies an expertise in both mouse and human placental pathobiology in order to identify the mechanisms by which specific signaling pathways direct placental function and fetal growth.