Published: 27-10-2022 11:11 | Updated: 19-06-2023 10:36

Researchers at FyFa and MTC receive the KIRI Fellow grant

Profile picture of Qiaolin Deng and Georgios Sotiriou, both standing outdoors in front of greenery
Photo of Qiaolin Deng: Markus Marcetic © Knut och Alice Wallenbergs Stiftelse/Kungl. Vetenskapsakademien. Photo of Georgios Sotiriou: private collection.

Researchers at Karolinska Institutet Qiaolin Deng and Georgios Sotiriou receive the KI Research Incubator (KIRI) Fellow postdoc grant 2022. The KIRI Fellow grant finances a postdoc for a collaborative interdisciplinary project. The awarded project aims to expand the use of tailored nanoparticles as drug carriers to deliver them to a dysfunctional placenta providing treatments to improve the child’s metabolic health.

Georgios Sotiriou from the Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology (MTC) and Qiaolin Deng from the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology (FyFa) are awarded the KI Research Incubator (KIRI) Fellow postdoc project grant with an interdisciplinary focus: “Developing cell-type specific nanoparticles to prevent fetal programming by dysfunctional placenta”.

“One of our research topics in the lab is the developmental origins of health and disease (DoHaD), which we study how the germline modification and adverse in-utero exposures can influence health and vulnerability to disease in offspring. Increasing evidence including our own have demonstrated that several uterine insults including under/over nutrition, hyperandrogenism and glucose intolerance contributes to offspring propensity to develop reproductive, metabolic and cardiovascular disease. In this project we want to investigate causal mechanisms underlying developmental programming and identify molecular/cellular targets to prevent this process. We therefore focus on the placenta dysfunction in a glucose-intolerance mouse model we developed. The placenta is a transient but complex organ playing vital roles in the fetal growth potential and several embryonic defects can be rescued by providing functional placenta. In this project, we will expand the use of nanoparticles as carriers to treat a dysfunctional placenta and improve metabolic health in offspring,” says Qialin Deng, Principal Researcher and Assoc. Professor (docent) leading the Qiaolin Deng Laboratory at the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology.

Encouraging creative and innovative collaboration

This year, the Committee for Research established KIRI to encourage creative and innovative collaboration of multidisciplinary nature in the fields of medicine and health sciences. This grant is to support the first KIRI Fellows to perform groundbreaking interdisciplinary research by funding a two-year salary for a postdoc working in both labs.

“This is a study initiated by Qiaolin and myself enabled by KIRI. The grant allows for the joint recruitment of one postdoctoral researcher that has yet to be selected. The postdoctoral researcher along with both of the PI’s will work on the project, and will enable reciprocal knowledge exchange also between the two research groups,” says Georgios Sotiriou, Principal Researcher and Assoc. Professor (docent) leading the Georgios Sotiriou Laboratory at the Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology. Georgios continues:

“The patients that will benefit are children that are born from a mother with a dysfunctional placenta. The envisioned treatment will use targeted nanocarriers to improve the functions of a placenta in-utero that will in turn prevent embryonic defects,” says Georgios Sotiriou.