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Thomas Kim is awarded grant from the Novo Nordisk Foundation

With the title "Impact of Maternal Obesity on Offspring’s Weight Regulation," Thomas Kim is among this round's grant recipients in the Causal Factors in Obesity 2023 programme from the Novo Nordisk Foundation.

Group Leader Thomas Kim
Photo: Lars Kruse, AU Photo

With an amount of DKK 2,997,615 over the next three years, Group Leader Thomas Kim now have funding to study maternal obesity and its impact on the offspring's weight regulation. 

Genetics Matters

The prenatal phase is critical, making our body’s start, akin to building a house; a weak foundation risks the entire structure. Inadequate prenatal development can lead to lifelong issues. Genetics matter, but a mother’s pregnancy health also significantly influences fetal well-being. Maternal obesity, in particular, heightens the fetus’s risk of cardiometabolic diseases later by impacting fetal brain development.

Specialized neurons in the brain regulate appetite and these neurons require proper connections. However, exposure to an obese maternal environment disrupts these connections, increasing susceptibility to obesity later. 

Thomas Kim wants to understand the changes in appetite-regulating neurons in an obese maternal environment, focusing on oxidative stress, leptin hormone, and inflammation.

He aims to decipher the mechanisms behind the prenatal origins of obesity. Experiments represent initial steps toward innovative solutions for ensuring children have a healthy start.