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Gestational diabetes is a common disease in pregnancy with numbers increasing in line with obesity.

Characterization of placental extracelluar vesicles in gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes is a common disease in pregnancy with numbers increasing in line with obesity. The disease causes both short and long term complications ranging from difficult deliveries to stillbirth.  Importantly women with gestational diabetes have a 70% risk of developing Type 2 diabetes within 5 years and the offspring have an increased risk of insulin resistance as they grow up.   The placenta constitutively sheds microvesicles and exosomes (collectively known as extracellular vesicles - EVs) into the maternal circulation. This has been extensively characterized in the context of diseases such as preeclampsia but almost nothing has been done analyzing the EVs in GDM.  This project would set out to isolate, characterize and functionally assign differences between normal and GDM EVs.  There is a large BioBank of pregnancy samples to subsequently interrogate and the data would potentially provide opportunities for identification of biomarkers predicting the onset of GDM and also for identifying those 70% who go on to develop Type 2 diabetes.    

training opportunities

The group has an excellent track record in placental biology and EVs with publications ranging from placenta to the New England Journal of Medicine.  The successful candidate would expect to be fully trained in EV isolation, characterization, and functional assessment.  We have flow cytometry and Nanoparticle Tracking Analysis on site and ready access to normal and diseased human tissues.  The successful candidate could expect a career track either in diabetes or in extracellular vesicle biology, both significant areas for long term funding and development.


Dr Manu Vatish