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Click here to view my peer-reviewed scientific publications (H-Index: 7)
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I am fascinated by the role of the gut microbiota in child growth and development.
The 'First 1000 Days' refers to the point of conception until two years of age. During this time, critical metabolic, immune and endocrine processes occur that lead to healthy child growth and development. Interestingly, the gut microbiome (bacteria, viruses and many other microbes) also assembles and stabilizes during the first 1000 days, however little is know about how these gut microbes affect these pathways related to child growth. We think that if this normal assembly of microbes is disturbed in early life (through insufficient feeding, unhygenic environments or antibiotic exposure) this may impair the pathways that lead to normal child growth and therefore lead to malnutrition. I am currently studying whether certain gut microbial taxa or pathways are associated with child growth and development in two studies described below.
Check out our latest review paper in Trends in Microbiology entitled "The Human Microbiome and Child Growth - First 1000 Days and Beyond" for our detailed insights into the role of the gut microbiome in child growth and undernutrition.
Severe acute malnutrition (SAM) is the most extreme form of malnutrition and is diagnosed by low weight, extreme muscle wasting or oedema (fluid in the limbs and face leading to swelling). These children also have many changes in their gut. Even though there are World Health Organisation protocols in place for SAM, 10-50% of children admitted to hospital for SAM will die either in hospital or in the few months after. Those that do survive have a high risk of relapse and have impaired growth up to 7 years after. We do not know why. However, there is some evidence to suggest the changes in a child's gut are critical.
I am currently conducting a longitudinal observational study of children diagnosed with severe acute malnutrition in Zimbabwe and Zambia. Using a multi-omics approach (shotgun metagenomics and metabolomics) I am examining how a disturbed gut microbiota (upper and lower GI) may contribute to the onset of oedematous and non-oedematous malnutrition and the long-term clinical outcomes after treatment.
The SHINE study is a large intervention trial of over 5000 mother infant pairs in rural Zimbabwe from early pregnancy to 18 months of age. The SHINE study is examining the role of WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) and nutrition for improving child stunting, the most common from of child malnutrition worldwide.
Within this project I am examining whether the gut microbiome affects child growth and development. We are particularly interested in:
i) The role of the mother's microbiome in child growth
ii) The role of breastfeeding in the infant microbiome
iii) The role of the infant microbiome in vaccine responses
My research interests involve the interface between nutrients, gut microbiota and host health especially in early life, using combined in vitro, pre clinical and human models. Alongside my current research in child undernutrition, I continue to be involved in the study of the interaction between dietary omega-3 fatty acids and the developing gut microbiota and outcomes of host metabolic health.
Prof. Andrew Prendergast - Queen Mary University London and Zvitambo Institute for Maternal and Child Health
Prof. Paul Kelly - Queen Mary University of London and University Teaching Hospital Lusaka
Dr. Amee Manges - University of British Columbia and British Columbia Centre for Disease Control
Prof. Catherine Stanton - APC Microbiome Institute, University College Cork
Dr. Jing X Kang - Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard University Medical School
Click on the images of papers below for links to some of my recent publications. For a full list of publications please visit my google scholar account using the big green button