Research Aims and Objectives


  • Aim #1: Biological Screening for Biomarker Discovery. Using the Next Generation Sequencing Platform located within CHRIM, we will perform large scale biomarker discovery (i.e. epigenetic, microbiota and metabolomic profiling) on a variety of biological samples from 3 unique clinical cohorts: (1) maternal breastmilk, infant stool and blood samples within the CHILD pregnancy cohort (n=1100); (2) white blood cells, plasma and urinary samples from the iCARE cohort of youth living with diabetes (n=150) and (3) maternal white blood cells, placenta, infant blood and urine from the Next Generation Pregnancy cohort of women with type 2 diabetes (n=110).


  • Aim #2: Determine mechanisms to explain programming of chronic disease risk. Large-scale biomarker discovery in Aim #1 will guide the creation of animal models to unravel the mechanisms through which these biomarkers lead to chronic diseases. Using existing imaging, physiological testing, as well as molecular biology and metabolic cores within our institute, we will generate unique animal models of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease to dissect the mechanisms through which early life exposures program a child for chronic disease.


  • Aim #3: Linkage of Novel/Existing Databases. We will link data from our existing clinical cohorts to established administrative datasets to (1) follow children over time to prospectively study the value of these biomarkers for predicting hard endpoints in adolescence and (2) explore various exposures during pregnancy (i.e. antibiotic use) that are associated with the biological profiles.


  • Aim #4: Assess the impact of early-life interventions for preventing chronic diseases in youth. Working closely with experienced early child education programs and high-ranking policy makers we will test novel interventions delivered in the first 8 years of life to reduce the burden of exposure to adversity or risk during pregnancy. We will also establish key windows of time in early childhood during which interventions will be more effective.