The fetal environment, pregnancy, and cardiovascular risk

Summary

Opportunity exists for research higher degree study on projects related to the fetal environment, pregnancy and cardiovascular risk. These potentially include epidemiological analyses, clinical research projects, and/or small animal studies.

Supervisor(s)

Dr Michael Skilton

Research Location

Camperdown - Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise & Eating Disorders

Program Type

Masters/PHD

Synopsis

We recently made the high-impact observation that small for gestational age infants have increased arterial wall thickness at birth(Skilton et al, Lancet 2005). This wall thickening persists in adulthood (Skilton et al, ATVB 2011), and is consistent with an increased risk of vascular diseases including heart attack and stroke. In collaboration with other researchers at the University of Sydney, and in Melbourne, Darwin and Finland, we are currently undertaking a series of further studies detailing the role of various aspects of the fetal environment in determining cardiovascular risk, and developing potential prevention strategies.
In a related body of work, we are describing the association between pregnancy and risk of cardiovascular disease in women. Thus far, we have shown that parity, the number of times a woman has given birth, is associated with risk of incident stroke, coronary heart disease (Skilton et al, Stroke 2009), related to a rapid peri-gestational progression of atherosclerosis, perhaps due to pregnancy-induced elevations in lipids, insulin resistance, oxidative stress, and inflammation (Skilton et al, Stroke 2010). Future studies may potentially describe additional measures of vascular & cardio-metabolic risk, other pregnancy-related conditions, and develop and trial potential prevention strategies.

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Keywords

early origins of disease, atherosclerosis, fetal growth, Pregnancy

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 1430