Mahua Choudhury, Ph.D., assistant professor in the department of pharmaceutical sciences, is working to create an epigenetic biomarker test strip to indicate whether a pregnant woman at a very early stage of gestation could be at risk of preeclampsia.
“Preeclampsia doesn’t show up using regular methods of blood work especially at an early stage of pregnancy,” she said.
Infant death is one of the most devastating consequences of preeclampsia. In the U.S., approximately 10,500 babies die from preeclampsia each year and an estimated half a million worldwide. Many countries do not have the means to keep a premature baby alive, so the rate of neonatal death in these countries is therefore much higher. Stillbirths from preeclampsia, babies that die in utero after 20 weeks of gestation, number between 1,000 and 2,200 in the U.S.
Dr. Choudhury received a $100,000 grant in 2011 from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation which funds innovative global health and development projects. Grand Challenge Explorations grants of $100,000 are awarded two times a year. Successful projects have the opportunity to receive a follow-up grant of up to $1 million.
In addition, Dr. Choudhury is involved in discovering therapeutic target(s) to prevent metabolic disorders, such as diabetes and obesity. A metabolic disorder occurs when some organs, such as your liver or pancreas, become diseased or do not function normally.
“In the face of the growing obesity epidemic, it is clear that countless questions remain unanswered that bear immense health and economic impact for not only the U. S., but also an increasing number of countries worldwide,” Dr. Choudhury said. “Furthermore, considering the burgeoning influence of childhood obesity with fatty liver, it is readily apparent that the need for research scientists to study obesity-related conditions will only expand for the foreseeable future.”
Beginning in her postdoctoral fellowship in 2008 at the department of pediatrics, neonatology, at the University of Colorado, Aurora, Colo., she began investigating the role of SIRT3 in obesity and fatty liver. The research was funded by a prestigious American Diabetes Association Postdoctoral Fellowship.
“My research demonstrated that mitochondrial function was suppressed further in SIRT3 knockout mice on high fat diet leading to worsening of fatty liver disease,” she said.
The Biochemical Journal recognized the article as the most read article in its three years of journal history, which clearly shows the immense impact of the work. Based on the research, she was recognized as the winner of the early career investigator which was a travel stipend for the Kern Aspen Lipid Conference. She was also the winner of best poster presenter at that conference, and received several awards in her research areas.
Dr. Choudhury has published noteworthy peer reviewed articles and invited reviews in journals, such as Nature Reviews Endocrinology. She serves as a reviewer in eight journals, including Nature Reviews Endocrinology, Diabetes. She was an invited speaker in several prestigious institutions including Vanderbilt University, University of Connecticut, Georgia Health Science Centre, Endocrinology Research Conference, Metabolomics Groups meeting and Perinatal Research Society.
She hopes that her experience in investigating metabolic syndrome and complicated pregnancy using her expertise in molecular endocrinology, pharmacology and physiology aiming at understanding the regulatory mechanism of these complicated diseases will create an impact in both clinical and basic biomedical research.