Researchers at the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA have received a $500,000 grant from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Measuring Metabolism Across Scales program to study how metabolism influences fetal brain development and how the process gets dysregulated in diabetic pregnancy.

Maternal hyperglycemia, or diabetes during pregnancy, is one of the most common complications of pregnancy and is associated with increased rates of heart defects and neurodevelopmental disorders in children. Despite its prevalence, the exact ways in which diabetic pregnancy impacts maternal and fetal health remain largely unknown.

The two-year award, given to Heather Christofk, professor of biological chemistry; Kathrin Plath, professor of biological chemistry; and Aparna Bhaduri, assistant professor of biological chemistry, all of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, will support their research in measuring cell-type-specific metabolism in the developing brain and determining how diabetes during pregnancy impacts fetal brain cell fate specification.

“There’s still a lot to learn, but this research could lay the groundwork for future treatment strategies to protect fetal brain development in the context of diabetic pregnancy,” said Christofk.