Please tell us about yourself
Esha is originally from India. She is pursuing her PhD under the supervision of Dr. Sandra Davidge, and currently in her 3rd year of program.
Maternal complications during pregnancy is often neglected which affects the developing fetus and leads to cardiovascular and metabolic complications in the adult offspring. My research involves looking at the maternal health and long term fetal health in complicated pregnancies such as pre-eclampsia and growth restriction. We are looking at early means of intervention to reduce the burden of cardiovascular and metabolic dysfunction in later adult life. In my research I am using an antioxidant attached to nano-particle to look at the effects on maternal and long term fetal health.
What did you study?
Esha completed her Biotechnology degree in India and did her masters in Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology, Physiology from University of Manitoba. She is currently a PhD candidate at University of Alberta focuses on Physiology of Maternal health.
How would you describe your research?
A fetus which does not get enough supply of oxygen and nutrients within a mother’s womb is born growth restricted and this negatively impacts their chronic, long-term cardiovascular health. Growth restriction is frequently associated with placental dysfunction, but the use of drugs in pregnancy is limited because of its potential ill effects on the fetus should transplacental passage occur. Thus, the objective of my research is to develop treatment strategies to improve placental function without direct drug exposure to the fetus in order to avoid off-target effects during development. We are exploring innovative treatment strategies using antioxidants packaged into nanoparticles as a delivery system, which diffuses into the placenta to release their antioxidant content without crossing the placental barrier.
What inspired you to pursue your current research?
My masters’ research focused on understanding gene regulation in the placenta and its contribution to the development of gestational diabetes in complicated pregnancies, following which I wished to expand the breadth of my research focus in a similar direction but in a more translational and clinical setting. I have had the opportunity to attend one of Dr. Davidge’s talks during my masters’, and having developed a keen interest in pregnancy research; I wanted to join the research group of Dr. Davidge at the University of Alberta. My current laboratory focuses on pregnancy complications and its effect on long-term cardiovascular health, and I wish to pursue my future research in the same area.
What impact(s) will your research have outside of your lab?
We are now getting more aware of the fact that early development impacts later-life health. A child’s development in their first thousand days of life lays the groundwork for their future well-being. Thus, there is an immediate need to develop innovative treatment strategy during pregnancy to avoid passage of drugs into the fetus. My research is aimed at exploring such innovative treatment strategies and finding ways to prevent disease before it develops.
What advice would you give to someone that is just starting graduate studies?
I would say “Work hard, play harder”.
What is your favourite place/thing to do here at the UofA or in Edmonton?
I am still trying to adapt to this “not so warm” weather. I do love summers in Edmonton and all the activities and festivals that come along with it.