Investigating the Genetic Correlation Underlying the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (2016–2019)

Cardiovascular health, diabetes and obesity are 3 of 8 national health priority areas according to the Department of Health, with cardiovascular disease being the most expensive disease in Australia ($7.9 billion annually). Currently, most interventions target individuals after the onset of clinical symptoms, by which time treatment is expensive and of limited effectiveness. The Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) paradigm suggests that there may be critical windows earlier in life that offer opportunities for disease treatment and prevention. The overall aim of this project is to use novel statistical genetics methods to identify genes that explain part of the observational association between birth weight and risk of cardiometabolic disease, providing a better understanding of this relationship and its implications for future development of disease. I hypothesize that (1) there is a subset of genes that predispose an individual to both an adverse antenatal environment and adverse health outcomes in later life; (2) there are biological intermediates that partially mediate the relationship between birth weight and cardiometabolic diseases; (3) the intrauterine and early life environment determined by the maternal genome has lasting effects on offspring development and may predispose children to disease in later life. The novel statistical genetics methods proposed in this fellowship present an opportunity to extend our understanding of the biology underlying DOHaD, and will help identify genes that underpin key pathways important for the development of disease. Identification of genetic signatures in early life that may increase the risk of adult disease will provide opportunities to develop intervention strategies aimed at preventing these adverse outcomes. Intervention strategies implemented earlier in the life course are likely to be more cost effective and beneficial, reducing the prevalence and cost of these lifestyle disea...
Grant type:
NHMRC Early Career Fellowships
Funded by:
National Health and Medical Research Council