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Hayat Baba

I am a third year PhD student in the Galli Lab, funded by a Saudi Arabian PhD Scholarship programme.  My work is focussed on fetal hypoxia, and the interactive effects of a poor postnatal diet.  

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My Interests

A lack of oxygen to the developing fetus (prenatal hypoxia) is a common occurrence in complicated pregnancies.  Adult offspring from hypoxic pregnancies have cardiac abnormalities, such as impaired diastolic function, enhanced responsiveness to sympathetic stimulation and increased susceptibility to in vitro ischemia/reperfusion injury1.  While this phenotype is often cited in the literature as being a precursor to disease2, no study has directly tested whether offspring are more susceptible to cardiovascular risk factors, such as hypertension.  Establishing these relationships are important, because understanding comorbidities will help to predict, prevent and treat instances of heart disease.  Therefore, the first objective of this project is to test the hypothesis that adult offspring from hypoxic pregnancies are more susceptible to developing heart failure induced by chronic hypertension.  To address this hypothesis, we will study the effects of prenatal hypoxia on the hearts of adult rats chronically exposed to hypertensive stimuli.  In vivo heart function will be measured with echocardiography, and in vitro structure and cellular function will be investigated with histology and fluorescent microscopy, respectively.    Importantly, the study will investigate outcomes in both males and females, which addresses the urgent need for more gender-balanced cardiovascular research to improve cardiac health in women.      


In addition to studying cardiac susceptibility to disease, the project also seeks to define the mechanistic basis for cardiac dysfunction in offspring from hypoxic pregnancies.  The Galli lab is currently investigating the hypothesis that prenatal hypoxia programmes maladaptive cardiomyocyte Ca2+ handling which leads to the development of cardiac dysfunction.  Several lines of evidence suggest prenatal hypoxia alters the structure and function of the sarcoplasmic reticulum, an intracellular store of calcium that’s essential for excitation-contraction coupling.  Therefore, the second main aim of this project is to study the sex-dependent effects of prenatal hypoxia on aspects of sarcoplasmic reticulum physiology, including effects on ultrastructure, protein expression, calcium handling and regulation (particularly by adrenergic stimulation).  Within the timeframe of the project, we will identify the cellular pathways which programme cardiac dysfunction and increase the likelihood of developing heart disease.  Our broader aim is to use this information in the future to create novel therapeutic treatments for patients with heart disease.


I'm always looking for new and exciting opportunities. Let's connect.

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