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Development and origin of disease

Tracking the development of disease from mother to child

We’re conducting a study of pregnant women in Western Sydney to determine whether disease begins developing in the womb through fetal immune programming.

A strong body of empirical data supports the theory that disease begins developing in utero. Diabetes, allergies and cardiovascular diseases are the result of aberrant immune responses in children, suggesting that fetal immune programming is a central mechanism in the developmental origin of disease.

In our longitudinal study we are observing mothers from preconception or early in pregnancy, and following them longitudinally through to delivery and their offspring’s childhood. The cohort comprises mothers within Western Sydney, where perinatal care through the public system is preferred.

By studying mothers and their children, we are exploring the maternal factors that affect the fetal immune system such as obesity, diabetes, and pre-eclampsia, and correlate it with environmental determinants to determine the biological processes involved with abnormal in utero fetal immune programming.

We are studying the genetic and environmental factors that program the development of disease, with the goal of discovering where disease originates.

We are working to solve the diabetes epidemic.

Internal collaborators

External collaborators

  • Associate Professor Jeff Craig, Melbourne Children's Research Institute
  • Associate Professor Cathy Suter, Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute
  • Professor Caroline McMillen, University of Newcastle
  • Professor Sue Clarke, Garvan Institute
  • Professor Margaret Morris, UNSW
  • Dr Peter Molloy, CSIRO

Project Node Leader

Professor Ralph Nanan
Professor Ralph Nanan
Visit Ralph Nanan's profile