Preventing gestational diabetes

Early career researchers Dr Stacey Ellery and Ms Aya Mousa have won the MHTP Research Week ECR speed networking event, receiving a $10,000 grant to progress their research idea.

Ms Aya Mousa and Dr Stacey Ellery

Co-organised by the Hudson Institute and School of Clinical Sciences ECR Committees, the event invited early career researchers from across the precinct to submit a collaborative grant idea.

Dr Ellery (a postdoctoral researcher in The Ritchie Centre, Hudson Institute) and Ms Mousa (a PhD student/early post-doctoral researcher at MCHRI) emerged from the event with a novel idea that combines their expertise in pregnancy and metabolic disorders to help women with gestational diabetes.

“Gestational diabetes (GDM) is a common disease developed by 20,000 Australian women during pregnancy each year,” Dr Ellery and Ms Mousa said.

“Not only are women with GDM at higher risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes including pre-eclampsia, and preterm birth, the disease also predisposes both the mother and infant to developing diabetes and cardiovascular diseases later in life.”

Using plasma samples from more than 500 pregnant women, stored in clinical biobanks at The Ritchie Centre and MCHRI, the researchers will explore the influence of diet and lifestyle intervention on the development of gestational diabetes and will conduct the first studies to comprehensively assess lipid biomarkers in GDM.

By combining samples from both low- and high-risk pregnancies, they will potentially identify novel metabolic markers (lipids) that could be used to improve risk prediction, prevention, and management of GDM in the future.

During Research Week, ECRs met for casual one-on-one conversations to find common interests and unearth potential novel research ideas. The committee reviewed EOIS and then, after an initial round of selection, full applications.

Dr Ellery and Ms Mousa said the ECR event was instrumental in forming this new collaboration, as their respective research teams were not previously aware of their joint interests.

Event co-organiser Dr Aimee Dordevic said the event provided important opportunities for face-to-face meetings between ECRs at MHTP.

“Importantly, we would like to thank Hudson and SCS for supporting this event. We plan to run the event again in 2018 so that we can continue to nurture collaborations between ECRs and foster world-class research outcomes,” Dr Dordevic said.

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