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Josca Schoonejans

Josca Schoonejans

BHF 4-Year Programme PhD Student

Research Interests

Supervisor: Prof Susan Ozanne

Title: Metformin intervention on programming of cardiometabolic health in offspring of obese pregnancy

Abstract: Maternal obesity interferes with normal fetal development, leading to long-lasting 'programmed' effects on the offspring that increase their risk of cardiometabolic disease independent of genetics and lifestyle. With increasing prevalence of obesity, interventions to prevent this are required.

The Ozanne laboratory has shown that offspring of obese dams are insulin resistant, hypertensive and have cardiac dysfunction despite being fed healthy postnatal diets.

The insulin sensitising drug metformin is used to treat gestational diabetes and may prevent this programming. However, metformin crosses the placenta, and long-term effectiveness and safety for offspring remain unknown.

Using this same model, this project will investigate long-term effects of maternal obesity and metformin on offspring adipose tissue and cardiovascular system, to determine if this clinically relevant intervention is beneficial or detrimental to long-term offspring health.


  • Institute of Metabolic Science Student Symposium 2017 and The Symposium for Biological and Life Science Students 2017 : Effect of metformin intervention during obese pregnancy on male offspring adipose tissue
  • British Heart Foundation Annual Student Conference 2019: The effect of metformin intervention on the programming of adiposity in offspring of obese pregnancy

Key Publications

  • Maternal diet-induced obesity programmes cardiac dysfunction in male mice independently of post-weaning diet. Loche E, Blackmore HL, Carpenter AA, Beeson JH, Pinnock A, Ashmore TJ, Aiken CE, de Almeida-Faria J, Schoonejans JM, Giussani DA, Fernandez-Twinn DS, Ozanne SE. Cardiovasc Res. 2018 Aug 1;114(10):1372-1384.
  • ER stress abrogates the immunosuppressive effect of IL-10 on human macrophages through inhibition of STAT3 activation. Hansen IS, Schoonejans JM, Sritharan L, van Burgsteden JA, Ambarus CA, Baeten DLP, den Dunnen J. Inflamm Res. 2019 Sep;68(9):775-785. 


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