Dr Marelyn Wintour Coghlan appointed Officer in the Order of Australia in 2015 Queen's Birthday Honours

Marelyn Wintour Coghlan, AO, FAA. DSc. PhD, was made an Officer in the order of Australia in the Queen's Birthday Honours List on the 8th June 2015, in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the furtherance of women's equality by example to thousands of medical science students over an academic career spanning fifty years.

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Marelyn Wintour Coghlan was made an Officer in the order of Australia in the Queen's Birthday Honours List on the 8th June 2015

The award is in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the furtherance of women's equality by example to thousands of medical science students over an academic career spanning fifty years. She was an ideal exemplar for young women starting a career. She effectively juggled family, four children, teaching responsibilities and a stellar research career. Multitasking in the modern idiom. She found time for significant contribution to community issues; to starting child care at the University of Melbourne, to organizing the Richmond swimming club, to encouraging development of physiological research in Africa and South America and acting as a mentor for fifty years to post graduate students in the Howard Florey Institute and The Department of Physiology both at the University of Melbourne and Monash University.

An alumna of the University of Queensland. Marelyn was a staff member of the Department of Physiology and the Howard Florey Institute for over 40 years. She was a protégé of Prof R Douglas Wright (Pansy) who was one of the first to recognize her keen native intelligence. She struggling against the 'glass ceiling' throughout her career but was able to advance with more liberal thinking about the academic role of women; Senior Principal Research Fellow (NHMRC) 1990 Howard Florey Institute and Professorial Fellow, Dept. of Physiology University of Melbourne (2001). Professor Department of Physiology Monash University (2003), Honorary Professor Dept. Anatomy and Cell Biology Monash University (2005-8) Amongst many honours and awards and invited special lectures internationally, her election as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science in 2004 the 20th woman in fifty years, Honorary Life Member Endocrine Society of Australia (2003).and the induction into the Victorian Honour Roll for Women(2014) stand out

Marelyn spent more than 46 years as a pioneering fetal physiologist forging an enviable international reputation with more than 200 publications to her name.

Live human foetuses are not available for experimentation She used undisturbed fetal sheep as her experimental model, an animal whose fetus was of similar size and developmental trajectory to humans. The bulk of her findings in sheep have been shown to apply to the human.

As early experimental finding showed that the concentration of fetal urine could be used as an indicator to fetal stress or wellbeing.

It had been assumed from correlation that unfavourable conditions experienced by the fetus can lead to changes that alter development and my affect the health of adults and even their off spring; the Barker Hypothesis. Marelyn's work showed that this effect could be established experimentally. She found when sheep foetuses were exposed to an excess of the stress hormone cortisol very early in pregnancy they grew into adults with high blood pressure and compromised kidney function. In effect implying diet, health and environment of the mother can affect the future wellbeing of her children. This may be very important in populations where mothers are exposed to stress and poor thrift during pregnancy especially before thirty days. Her group and others called this fetal programing but this was an early practical example of the expanding field of epigenetics. These fetal effects are likely contributors to the poor health of indigenous people especially the epidemic proportions of diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney disease.

Read more: "A woman with Passion" by Tim Twaites www.healthystarttolife.monash.org/docs/marelyn-article.pdf