Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology

Reproductive and Developmental Biology

Further Information

Contact a supervisor for detailed information on student research projects

Assistant Professor Peter Mark
Dr Peter Mark

Professor Brendan Waddell
W/Prof Brendan Waddell

The School of Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology offers a diverse range of student research topics.


 

The major interests of our group centre on the importance of circadian biology in relation to placental function, maternal adaptation to pregnancy, and developmental programming. Current studies are focussed on the impact of maternal obesity, omega-3 fatty acids and glucocorticoid excess on pregnancy outcome (from the perspective of both the mother and the developing fetus).

Developmental origins of health and disease (DOHAD)

Project outline
Studies in relation to DOHAD focus on the effects of fetal glucocorticoid excess on the adult phenotype, particularly in relation to programming of adult-onset diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and obesity. The capacity of postnatal diets to either exacerbate (e.g. by a high fat diet) or rescue (e.g. dietary fish oil) adverse outcomes is an important focus of this work.

Tissue banks have been collected from a large scale glucocorticoid programming study and these are available for analysis. Tissues including heart, kidney and adrenal gland have been collected at 6 months of age from control and programmed offspring raised on standard, high fat or high fat/high omega-3 diets. They have been collected at four time points across a 24 hour period, enabling circadian profiling of gene expression and tissue function to be layered into the analysis.

Project is suitable for

Honours, Masters, PhD

Chief supervisor
Dr Peter Mark Prof Brendan Waddell
Essential qualifications

For Honours: An appropriate undergraduate degree with a biological science emphasis, and a minimum weighted average of 65% in the level 3 subjects that comprise the relevant major, from an approved institution. Applicants will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

For Masters or PhD: An appropriate Honours degree with a biological science emphasis or equivalent research experience from an approved institution. Applicants will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

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Circadian rhythms in the spiny mouse placenta

Project outline

Circadian biology underpins all major metabolic processes to appropriately align physiology of the organism with behaviour. Altricial (immature at birth) organisms, such as the rat and mouse, have minimal circadian variation in placental function, possibly to supply the fetus with constant nutrition during the relatively brief period of fetal growth. Precocial (relatively mature at birth) organisms are often born with metabolic rhythmicity (e.g. in liver function) which may be driven by exposure to peaks and troughs in substrate supply from the placenta.

This project aims to determine whether placentas from the precocial spiny mouse exhibit distinct circadian rhythmicity in their function in association with fetal liver rhythmicity. Samples have been collected from pregnant spiny mice in collaboration with Dr Hayley Dickinson, The Ritchie Centre at The Hudson Institute, Victoria. Placental expression of clock genes and nutrient transporters will be determined at various stages throughout gestation to determine the timing of onset for placental rhythmicity.

Project is suitable for

Honours, Masters, PhD

Chief supervisor
Dr Peter Mark Prof Brendan Waddell and Dr Hayley Dickinson (Monash University)

 Essential qualifications

For Honours: An appropriate undergraduate degree with a biological science emphasis, and a minimum weighted average of 65% in the level 3 subjects that comprise the relevant major from an approved institution. Applicants will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

For Masters or PhD: An appropriate Honours degree with a biological science emphasis or equivalent research experience from an approved institution. Applicants will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

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Last updated:
Wednesday, 23 September, 2015 2:52 PM

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