Vitamin D supplementation and food allergy risk in early life: immunological and molecular mechanisms

Research Opportunity
PhD students
Department / Centre
Paediatrics
Location
Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Prof Richard Saffery richard.saffery@mcri.edu.au Personal web page
Co-supervisor Email Number Webpage
A/Prof Kirsten Perrett kirsten.perrett@mcri.edu.au Personal web page
Dr Melanie Neeland melanie.neeland@mcri.edu.au

Summary The candidate will use a combination of laboratory-based, and other data analyses to more fully understand the potential pathways linking vitamin D, immune system development and function in the first year of life, with food allergy. Findings from VITALITY will directly inform global guidelines on the role of vitamin D supplementation to improve early infant health and, if successful, provide one of the first tangible ways to prevent food allergy around the world.

Project Details

The rise in food allergy in developed countries is well documented, particulary in children under 5 years of age. Low vitamin D at birth or during infancy is associated with an increased risk of food allergy and eczema and this risk further increases according to distance from the equator. Given that vitamin D is a key regulator of immune development, it is plausible that alterations in immune cell profile and function underpin the link between vitamin D insufficiency and risk of allergy. VITALITY (n=2739, recruitment completed) is a randomised placebo-controlled trial aiming to determine if vitamin D supplementation in the first year of life leads to a reduction in food allergy. VITALITY has an internationally unique comprehensive set of clinical and other data from infants and families, including oral food challenged confirmed food allergy and eczema status. The Vitality biobank is internationally unique with longitudinal matched biological samples (plasma, PBMCs, granulocytes) amenable to immune cell and molecular profiling.

We are looking for an enthusiastic PhD candidate to join a friendly, dynamic multidisciplinary team (including other PhD students working on the non-immunological aspects of the VITALITY cohort, clinician and research scientists, and epidemiologists). The candidate will use a combination of laboratory-based, and other data analyses to more fully understand the potential pathways linking vitamin D, immune system development and function in the first year of life, with food allergy. Findings from VITALITY will directly inform global guidelines on the role of vitamin D supplementation to improve early infant health and, if successful, provide one of the first tangible ways to prevent food allergy around the world.

The project would suit a clinician or a scientist with an interest and some content knowledge in these areas. Excellent people skills are essential, and some experience of laboratory methods and statistical analysis would be beneficial. Stipend may be available.



Faculty Research Themes

Child Health

School Research Themes

Child Health in Medicine



Research Opportunities

PhD students
Students who are interested in joining this project will need to consider their elegibility as well as other requirements before contacting the supervisor of this research

Graduate Research application

Honours application

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.

Department / Centre

Paediatrics

Research Node

Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute

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