Growth, Development & Metabolism ProgrammeEver wondered why some people just have no problem staying slim, despite what they eat? Or why some people seem to be born smarter than others? While health and beauty magazines continue tout the latest diets, exercise plans or self-enrichment courses for a slimmer, healthier and smarter you – how much of it is truth?
At the Growth, Development and Metabolism (GDM) Program, we believe that this all stems from early childhood, beginning even from conception. Historical and increasing scientific evidence shows that the environmental cues we experienced as a budding foetus and growing infant has had a profound influence on our subsequent health and cognitive abilities in adulthood. While it comes as no surprise to many that issues like poor maternal nutrition will affect babies’ health, it isn’t clear how or why this impacts a child when he grows up into adulthood.
What are we doing?
Our DNA and genes are an inherited instruction manual for the production of proteins and building blocks in our cells. Alongside our DNA, a set of signal operators work tirelessly to synchronize the pages of instructions to be read, much like a train signaller coordinates the multiple routes across a single railroad track. These signallers are known collectively as ‘epigenetics’.
More than ever, this fine level of control can be tuned during our early development, when body plans are being set, and our cells and genes are especially receptive to change. Our epigenetic profile summarizes the environmental cues we experienced as a foetus, then adjusts and prepares us for life outside by optimizing our body’s metabolism, cognition and other processes.
Here in the GDM program, we’d like to find out if these epigenetic profiles are indeed different between “regular” people and those who now face health challenges like obesity and diabetes. Our team of researchers and collaborators are conducting studies spanning the bench to the bedside to understand how nutrition and other lifestyle factors impact our present cognition and behaviour, as well as our risk of chronic and metabolic diseases as we age.
Are there biomarkers that can be used clinically to help predict if these diseases might emerge, and perhaps even offer a chance for people to alter their lifestyles before they become patients? How early in life can we accurately start these predictions? Since early intervention often leads to more success in disease prevention and/or management, this is crucial, both from a personal and public health perspective.We’re very excited to see what emerges from our multi-scenario studies, and for you to join us in some way. If you’d like to find out more, click here to read more about our research, or even participate in one of our ongoing clinical studies. Together, let’s work to improve our future health.
Growth & Metabolism
|Molecular Epigenetic Analysis:
|Muscle and Fat Biology:
|Bioinformatics & Biostatistics:
|Clinical Nutrition Research Centre:
Cognitive & Developmental Neuroscience
|Childhood Cognition: (Neurocognitive Centre)|