$15 million to help boost health from the beginning of life

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Improved human health is the aim of $15.3 million in new research awarded to the University of Adelaide today, including a major project to investigate the impact of the first 1000 days of a baby’s life.

In total, the University has been awarded 16 new project grants, as well as a fellowship and postgraduate scholarship, from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

"This latest health and medical research funding announcement is further proof of the University of Adelaide's key commitment to developing healthy solutions for our community," says Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Pascale Quester.

A team led by Professor Jodie Dodd (Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology with the University's Robinson Research Institute) has been awarded more than $2.4 million, to investigate the first 1000 days of a baby’s life during pregnancy and early childhood to see how exposure to various dietary and lifestyle factors may contribute to child obesity.

"Globally, 41 million children under the age of five are overweight or obese, and children with obesity are very likely to become adults with obesity," says Professor Dodd.

"Understanding the relative importance and physiological mechanisms of various impacts on the child’s development during pregnancy and in early childhood is essential before we can optimise treatments and develop effective strategies to tackle obesity."

Her research team will be investigating whether factors such as pregnancy weight gain, gestational diabetes and maternal diet and lifestyle result in added susceptibility of young children to the effects of poor child diet and sedentary lifestyle.

Another team led by biomedical scientist Professor Rebecca Robker (also with the University's Robinson Research Institute), has been awarded more than $1.1 million to investigate therapies to restore the health of ageing eggs and sperm.

The researchers will investigate how age affects egg and sperm cells, and whether the detrimental effects on fertility and offspring can be minimised. This is an essential step towards the development of a new human fertility treatment.

Other University of Adelaide projects funded by the NHMRC today include:

* $980,692 awarded to Dr Luke Grzeskowiak for: Optimising Mothers' Own Milk supply in the neonatal unit – enhancing breast milk supply with Domperidone in mothers of preterm infants
* $967,481 awarded to Professor Claire Roberts for: Targeting micronutrients to tackle pregnancy disorders: an integrated approach
* $964,187 awarded to Professor Christine Feinle-Bisset for: Clinical application of dietary nutrients with potent energy intake- and gluco-regulatory effects – translating clinical research into innovative approaches to the management of obesity and type 2 diabetes
* $828,756 awarded to Associate Professor Loc Do for: Effect of exposure to fluoridated water in early childhood on child psychological and intellectual development.


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