Investigation of the role of early life exposures on lung health
Supervisors name: Dr Caroline Lodge
Short description: Many exposures in childhood have the potential to influence the growth and development of the lungs and in turn determine the maximal lung function for an individual. The main purpose of my proposed PhD research is to identify early life determinants for asthma and lung function. The degree of influence exerted by these exposures may be dependent on their interplay with individual characteristics or other exposures, for instance genetic modifiers like Glutathione-S-transferase (GST) genes. GST genes code for detoxification enzymes which may help protect the lungs from potentially toxic exposures, like tobacco smoke and may modify the response to early life exposures that affect susceptibility to asthma and/or lung development. My proposed work will address these environmental factors and their genetic modifiers in a high risk birth cohort up to the age of 18 years (MACS) and in a long-running population based cohort (TAHS). MACS and TAHS provide a good opportunity to determine the association between perinatal and childhood exposures on the occurrence and persistence of asthma and impaired lung function at multiple time points over the life of the cohort whilst accounting for the role of confounders and effect modifiers. These results could potentially guide clinical practice by providing a measure of personalized risk. They will also inform guidelines and preventive strategies for people who are at increased risk.
PhD scholarship and funding body: National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) postgraduate scholarship