Preserving beta cell mass through branch chain amino acid supplementation

Project Code: 10351051

Faculty: Liggins Institute

Department: Liggins Institute

Main Supervisor: Professor Frank Bloomfield

Application open date: 14 Mar 2016

Application deadline:

Enrolment information: NZ Citizens, NZ Permanent Residents, International


Babies born preterm are at increased risk of diabetes later in life.  We have shown that lambs born preterm have decreased adult beta cell mass.  Nutrition in early life is a key modulator of organ development and, in fetal life, amino acids are important regulators of growth.  The fetal pancreas also is sensitive to amino acids, with branch chain amino acids being particularly important.

This project aims to determine the potential for a branch chain amino acid supplement in the first two weeks following preterm birth to mitigate loss of beta cell mass.

What we are looking for in a successful applicant

Willing to work with preterm lambs.

Ability to work in a team.

Attention to detail.


To determine whether supplementation of preterm lambs with branch chain amino acids for two weeks will improve life-long beta cell mass compared with an isocaloric control.

To investigate mechanisms, such as epigenetic regulation of pancreatic transcription factors and mitochondrial oxidative activity.

Other information

This project is funded by an HRC programme grant and will start early to mid 2017. Early applications are encouraged.

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