How in utero exposure can alter lung development


11 Jul 2017

Can you describe the aim of your research in 10 words?

Understanding the impact of prenatal insults on postnatal airway/lung structure-function.

What do you know/have discovered about this topic so far?

We have demonstrated how in utero hypoxia leads to a more heterogeneous distribution of airway lumen calibre and how this could theoretically increase airway narrowing and make the lung susceptible to developing asthma later in life (Wang et al (2017) Respirology).

What aspect of this research excites you the most?

When the publication above was editorialised by Dr Christopher Pascoe (Manitoba, Canada) who highlighted the paper as “an important step forward in our understanding of how in utero exposures, namely IUGR, can alter lung development and growth in such a way that it makes the airways more susceptible to narrowing and closure” – this motivates me to further my interest in the early origins of respiratory disease.

What’s your Holy Grail; the one thing you’d like to achieve in your research?

All expectant mums having a healthy pregnancy and thus, a healthy baby.

What has been/will be your biggest hurdle?

As I completed my PhD from a totally different research area, it was tough starting from scratch to get recognition in the respiratory field.

How long before your work impacts patient care?

My research is basic science, which is significant because it is important to understand the cause before you can design any intervention!

Who has inspired you and why?

David Barker – the founder of DOHaD. His idea was initially labelled as controversial because it was novel. He persevered and DOHaD is now widely accepted!

If you could only keep three possessions what would they be?

iPhone, internet connection, car.

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