Current Major Projects

Our major projects emerge from our research themes. The projects are lead by a Project Leader and may involve a research team including a number of Principal Investigators, Associate Investigators, Post-doctoral Fellows, students and support staff. A major project may span a 1-3 year horizon.

Current projects are listed as follows:

  • Healthy Start to Life Adolescent Education Project

    This programme uses information gained from a number of ongoing programmes, including LENScience and the International Healthy Start to Life Project, to build strategies to support long-term behaviour change with at-risk communities with a view to reducing noncommunicable diseases such as obesity and diabetes.

    Project Leader: Ms Jacquie Bay

  • Long-term consequences of a stressed uterine environment

    This project further investigates the underlying mechanisms driving changes in fetal and adult phenotypes to enable their manipulation for animal health/production benefits.

    Project Leader: Professor Hugh Blair

  • Metabolic outcome with high protein intakes in ELBW babies

    This project looks into the effect of different protein intakes in early life in extremely low birthweight babies on metabolic outcomes that are risk factors for later obesity and diabetes.

    Project Leader: Professor Frank Bloomfield

  • Life as a twin begins at conception

    This project aims to determine whether altered fetal development in twins, which leads to a lifelong increased risk of obesity and diabetes, is due to signals arising from the fetus or the mother. It utilises a transcriptomics approach to identify alterations in gene expression pathways / clusters that underlie this altered development.

    Project Leader: Professor Frank Bloomfield

  • Mechanisms and consequences of developmental plasticity

    This project investigates two themes: the molecular mechanisms of plasticity and its triggers, focusing on understanding the fundamental biology in insect models of plasticity; and the more conceptual issues of predicted adaptive responses, providing insect models to better understand the evolutionary and mechanistic aspects of this important idea so it can be better applied in clinical or agricultural settings.

    Project Leader: Associate Professor Peter Dearden

  • A high content screening platform for cells and tissues

    This project involves the building on our existing high-content analysis technology and the Discovery-1 system to provide a platform for GRAVIDA scientists to screen cells and tissues.

    Project Leader: Professor Mike Dragunow

  • Developmental and evolutionary medicine, conceptual and empirical perspectives

    This project has two general goals, the first to advance our conceptual understanding of evolutionary medicine and its relationship to health and disease; the second to explore the role of epigenetic mechanisms in developmental plasticity within the context of evolutionary mechanisms.

    Project Leader: Distinguished Professor Sir Peter Gluckman

  • Oxidative stress and the regulation of embryonic development

    This project focuses on the development of sensitive biomarkers to measure disturbances in mitochondrial redox homeostasis to investigate what nutritional and environmental factors, and alterations in these pathways during development, may influence developmental plasticity and subsequent metabolic and degenerative disease.

    Project Leader: Professor Mark Hampton

  • The effect of exercise on obese mothers and their offspring

    This project investigates whether the adoption of moderate exercise in overweight and obese mothers during pregnancy can alter gene expression in their offspring, leading to a decreased risk of the child going on to become obese themselves.

    Project Leader: Professor Paul Hofman

  • Eating patterns in Māori preschool children

    This is a collaborative project with Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga (another of the NZ government-funded Centres of Research Excellence) is assessing eating pattern variability in young Māori children and the factors influencing household eating patterns with a view to developing public health advice and interventions to improve long-term health.

    Project Leader: Dr Anne Jaquiery

  • Placental and developmental epigenetics

    Placental methylation appears to be critical for the normal function of the placenta, thus it is highly plausible that the maternal environment can influence pregnancy outcomes. Here they use candidate genes and a genome-wide approach to document epigenetic differences between placenta and somatic tissues, and between normal and dysfunctional placentas. They are looking for epigenetic markers that can be used as indicators of placental dysfunction that can be translated into useful tools in the clinical environment.

    Project Leader: Professor Ian Morison

  • Knowledge transfer to improve NZ health outcomes

    This programme is an extension of the International Healthy Start to Life project which aims to enhance knowledge transfer with a view to improving the health and well-being of ers throughout their lives through the use of modelling and other tools.

    Project Leader: Associate Professor Susan Morton

  • Epigenetics and developmental plasticity

    This project involves the modelling of developmental phenomena that direct phenotype plasticity and to broaden the understanding of mathematical modelling approaches within the Gravida membership.

    Project Leader: Mr Tony Pleasants

  • Nutritional ecology of obesity in

    This project uses techniques from nutritional ecology to investigate human dietary protein consumption and its association with obesity and other metabolic syndromes in later life.

    Project Leader: Professor David Raubenheimer

  • Evolutionary theory of developmental plasticity

    The aim of this project is to develop mathematical models of population epigenetics and predictive adaptive response, and to further investigate the ideas behind the evolutionary concepts of developmental plasticity and epigenetics.

    Project Leader: Professor Hamish Spencer

  • Interventions in developmental programming

    This programme investigates how the metabolic state early in life sets metabolic controls for later life, leading to metabolic disease (such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other non-communicable diseases), with the aims of being able to manipulate the pathways to disease and provide novel avenues for prevention, rather than treatment, of such diseases.

    Project Leader: Associate Professor Mark Vickers

  • Investigating Impact of Maternal Nutrition on Fetal Brain Development

    This project looks at how maternal health impacts on the fetal brain to programme offspring obesity.  The aim is to identfy genes on which maternal factors (environment) act to alter brain development and programme offspring obesity and to discover whether there are multiple avenues, or a final common pathway to maternal programming of offspring obesity.

    Project Leader: Dr Christine Jasoni