School of Life and Health Sciences Aston University Aston TriangleBirmingham B4 7ETUK
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Cell & Tissue Biomedical Research
I graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2000 with a B.Sc in medical biochemistry, before beginning a Ph.D within the research group of Professor Tom Fleming at the University of Southampton. Here, my research focused on the sensitivity of the mouse pre-implantation embryo to in vitro culture and transfer manipulations, mimicking aspects of human Assisted Reproductive Techniques (ART). Our research was the first to demonstrate that the culture and manipulation or pre-implantation embryos resulted in significant changes in offspring cardiovascular and metabolic homeostasis. Following completion of my Ph.D, I undertook two post-doctoral positions with Professor Fleming. During this time, I investigated the impact of a maternal nutrition on offspring phenotype, observing that a maternal low protein diet (LPD), fed exclusively during mouse oocyte maturation or pre-implantation development, resulted in significantly altered offspring postnatal growth, cardiovascular and metabolic homeostasis, vascular function, adiposity and behavioural profiles. In 2011, I was awarded a University of Nottingham Advance Research Fellowship, allowing me to begin my investigation into the impact of paternal nutrition on gamete maturation, epigenetic status and adult offspring phenotype. Following on from this, I was awarded an Aston Research Centre for Healthy Aging Research Fellowship in 2014.
2000 - 2003. Ph. D. entitled ‘The environment of the early embryo and its effect on development and postnatal life’. University of Southampton. UK. 1997 – 2000. B.Sc. Medical Biochemistry. University of Sheffield. UK.
2014 - Aston Research Centre for Healthy Ageing Research Fellowship. Aston University, School of Health and Life Science. 2011 - 2013 University of Nottingham Advanced Research Fellowship. University of Nottingham, School of Biosciences. UK. 2003 - 2011 Post-doctoral researcher. University of Southampton. UK.
2005 - 2011 Guest lecturer on the University of Southampton, School of Biological Sciences ‘Cellular and genetic aspects of animal development’ undergraduate course.
The development of adult-onset non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease are associated typically with adult lifestyle characteristics including sedentary behaviour, malnutrition and smoking. Studies in humans and animal models have however, identified strong associations between adult cardiovascular and metabolic disease risk and environmental perturbations experienced during early development. My own studies in the mouse, have shown that a maternal gestational low protein diet (LPD, 9% casein) fed exclusively during pre-implantation embryonic development (first 3.5 days of gestation) affect adult offspring growth and adiposity, behaviour and cardiovascular and metabolic regulation.
Whilst the developmental consequences of manipulating the maternal environment has received significant analysis, the impact of paternal physiology and nutrition on the programming of adult-offspring cardiovascular and metabolic health remains largely under-investigated. My most recent studies have extended the well-established rodent maternal LPD model to determine the impact of paternal nutrition prior to conception on adult-offspring cardiovascular and metabolic phenotype. Whist paternal LPD had minimal effect on stud fertility, sperm from LPD fed males displayed global DNA hypomethylation and induced altered uterine responses in mated females. Adult offspring from LPD fed males, developed adult hypotension, elevated adiposity (total fat mass) and serum TNF-α levels, impaired glucose tolerance and vascular dysfunction when compared to offspring from the control normal protein diet fed stud males.
Therefore, my current research aims to understand better (i) the separate role of sperm and seminal plasma in offspring health programming; (ii) the consequences of altered DNA methylation for sperm function and post-fertilisation development and, (iii) the impact of ageing, both in the stud male and offspring, on sperm development and the progression of ill health in the mouse.
2014: The American Journal of Physiology:Heart and Circulatory Physiology published a blog discussion regarding our manuscript http://ajpheart.podbean.com/e/paternal-low-protein-diet-and-adult-offspring-health-in-mice/
2013: Several press releases and articles were issued in response to my presentations at the Society for the Study of Reproduction (SSR) 46 th Annual Meeting, Montreal. Canada.
2011 Co-applicant for a Society for Reproduction and Fertility Academic Scholarship Fund (£9700).2011 University of Nottingham Research & Knowledge Transfer Board award (£5000).