Ex-Riverton High School pupil wins Premier's Scholarship

Sarah Williams

Sarah Williams
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Thursday, 14 March 2002

A former pupil of Riverton and District High School, Sarah Williams, has won the 2002 Premier's Scholarship in Bioscience.

Ms Williams, who completed her Year 12 studies at Riverton in 1996, graduated from the University of Adelaide with a B. Science (First Class Honours) last year. She will use the Scholarship to support her continuing research into the fetal origins of adult disease. The Scholarship is worth $27,600 a year over three years.

In June, Ms Williams will begin a PhD in developmental physiology at the University of Adelaide under the supervision of Professor Caroline McMillen, Head of the Department of Physiology.

"With the support of the Scholarship I would like to be able to continue to collaborate with the University of Alberta in Edmonton for part of my research," she said. "Last year I spent five months there for my Honours research."

Research into the fetal origins of adult disease is important because of a worldwide series of epidemiological studies showing that babies who are small at birth grow up to have an increased risk of developing several diseases in adult life, including heart disease, diabetes and obesity. It is thought that when the nutrient supply in the womb is poor the fetus has to make several neural and hormonal adaptations to enable it to survive. Although these adaptations allow the baby to continue growing, the changes in the development of several key organ systems may 'program' their function in the future, and result in poor health in adult life.

Ms Williams's previous research has investigated changes that occur in the kidney when the fetus does not grow well in the womb. Poor kidney growth may contribute to raising blood pressure, and ultimately to increasing the likelihood of developing heart disease in the adult.

Her future research, also within the 'fetal origins of adult disease' field, will look at how the development of the sympathetic nervous system is affected when the fetus does not grow well, as it is thought that changes in this system may also contribute to the development of heart disease in later life.


Contact Details

Sarah Williams
Email: sarah.williams@adelaide.edu.au
Business: +61 8 8313 7591

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