Announcement of TRGF Awards for 2018

CHRI is pleased to announce that the following projects received Translational Research Grant funding in 2018.  Congratulations to our grant recipients:

Obstetrics and Gynaecology

PIs – Dr. Barbra de Vrijer and Dr. Charles McKenzie; Co-Investigators – Dr. Timothy Regnault and Dr. Genevieve Eastabrook
Title of Project – Impact of Metformin and Insulin on Fetal Fat Development in Diabetic Pregnancies

Summary of the Project:

Diabetes during pregnancy can have lasting impacts on both mother and child, including an increased risk for a later-life diagnosis of diabetes for both mother and baby. Since the prenatal environment has a role in shaping a child’s future metabolic health, poorly controlled diabetes in the mother will alter the fetal metabolic state both before and after birth. It is critical that they obtain a better understanding of how diabetes treatments impact unborn babies and their future health risks. Through measurement of fetal adipose tissue, they will gain information on the metabolic health of the developing child which will provide important insight into the effects of diabetes treatment in pregnancy.


PIs – Dr. Victor Han and Dr. Shawn Li
Title of Project - A functional proteomics approach to identify the biochemical basis of fetal growth restriction

Summary of the Project:
This project is focused on uncovering the molecular basis of fetal growth restriction (FGR or low birth weight), a condition that affects normal fetal growth and the development of the child and adult later in life (Developmental Origins of Health and Disease or DOHaD). They will use an innovative technique that will allow them to systematically map the protein landscape of the placenta and identify which proteins and the associated cellular signaling pathways are involved in the pathophysiology of fetal growth restriction. This project will draw on the complementary expertise of Dr. Han in placenta and fetal development research and the clinical management of fetal growth restriction and of Dr. Li in biochemistry and proteomics. Their study may lead to the identification of proteins that may be explored as therapeutic targets for the management of fetal growth restriction.

PIs – Dr. Victoria Siu and Dr. Thomas Drysdale
Title of Project - Understanding the role of NAD Synthetase in VACTERL syndrome patients

Summary of the Project:
Recently, two sibling came the Children’s Hospital with a devastating and sadly lethal combination of birth defects. Based on the defects, the children with diagnosed with what is called VACTERL after the types of defects that are found. These defects include heart defects, small kidneys (one child was completely missing one kidney) and defects in the vertebrae. Based on genetic sequencing, a genetic cause for the defects was
proposed: a mutation in a gene called NADSYN1. This gene is needed in all cells for generating energy and several other basic functions. It is surprising that the children survived to term with such a basic function impaired and it is also puzzling as to why there is such a specific set of defects when all cells of the body should require these basic functions. They will first make sure they understand the mutation that resulted in the death of the children and then develop models where they can do experiments to understand which of the potential functions of NADSYN1 are important for healthy development. The potentially good news is that a relatively simple dietary supplementation may rescue the defects, a possibility that we will test I our models. It is hoped that their study may help in understanding other developmental defects if they can understand which basic NADSYN1 functions are the ones that are needed to prevent the defects.