Early Growth and puberty timing as predictors of disease risk
Professor Ken Ong (MRC Epidemiology Unit) and Professor Dunger study genetic, environmental determinants of size at birth, future growth and risk for adult disease. Current studies include study of the role of imprinted genes led by Dr Clive Petry and detailed evaluation of the effects of nutrition during infancy on short term risk for obesity and insulin resistance.
The POPS and Next Generation Children’s Projects: Early biomarker detection and long-term outcomes
With new funding from the NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre, we are collaborating with Professor Gordon Smith (Department of Obstetrics) to follow up growth and neurodevelopment of infants from Predictors of Pregnancy outcome study (POPS). The Decipher Developmental Disorders (DDD) project used whole exome sequencing for analysis and causative gene discovery of neurodevelopmental disorders in 14,000 probands and their parents (trios). With Professor Lucy Raymond, Dr. Helen Firth and Dr Matthew Hurles (University of Cambridge Department of Clinical Genetics and Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute) we are investigating utility of whole genome sequencing for diagnosis with rapid turnaround time in the NICU and paediatric ITU. Moreover, we will use genotype-phenotype linkage to electronic health and educational records to assess long-term outcomes into adulthood.
Inflammatory bowel disease, allergy and gut barrier dysfunction
Another area of research is focused on epigenetics of the intestinal immune system in health and disease particularly inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) led by Dr Matt Zilbauer. Specifically, we are currently exploring the impact of epigenetic mechanisms such as DNA methylation and histone modifications on regulating gene expression in purified cell subsets such as the intestinal epithelium as well as peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). Dr Andrew Clark investigates serious childhood allergies and prevention strategies.
As part of a study to investigate pathophysiology of gut barrier dysfunction in critical illness, Dr Nazima Pathan and the PICU research group are undertaking research into how the gut-host homeostasis is altered in critical illness in children for insights into disease complications and therapy. The PICU team has an interest in genomic applications and neuro-intensive care.