Dr James Cuffe

Lecturer

School of Biomedical Sciences
Faculty of Medicine
j.cuffe1@uq.edu.au
+61 7 336 53180

Overview

Dr Cuffe Completed his PhD at The University of Queensland before being awarded a competitive research fellowship to Join Griffith University on the Gold Coast. Dr Cuffe returned to UQ in 2018 as a lecturer in the School of Biomedical Sciences and to establish his own research team. Dr Cuffe has a broad range of research interests including investigating early origins of chronic disease, endocrine regulation of fetal development, placental regulation of pregnancy complications and sex differences in basic physiology. He is most recognised for his research in the field of placental biology where he has investigated how maternal perturbations such as stress, hypoxia, altered nutrition or maternal disease all affect placental development and program disease in the mother after pregnancy as well as her offspring. Dr Cuffe has an exceptional track record and is excited to take new honours and PhD students into his research laboratory.

Research Interests

  • Placental regulation of pregnancy disorders
    The placenta modulates almost every aspect of human physiology during pregnancy and it is the least understood of all human organs. It is known that placental dysfunction contributes to gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, stillbirth, preterm birth and fetal growth restriction and yet the mechanisms responsible are largely unknown. Much of my work focuses on understanding what goes wrong in the placenta to cause such poor outcomes in pregnancy.
  • Understanding the impact of thyroid disorders on pregnancy outcomes
    Given that thyroid disorders impact 1 in 20 women, it is essential to understand the links between these disorders and poor outcomes in pregnancy. In particular, I want to understand how targeting novel factors may ensure a healthy start to life for babies born to women with a thyroid disorder
  • Effects of maternal adversity on offspring physiology
    I am interested in understanding how stress, hypoxia or other causes of adversity during pregnancy can impair placental function and induce fetal growth restriction. Given that fetal growth restriction is associated with a range of adult onset diseases, I explore the link between these maternal factors and offspring cardiovascular, metabolic, neurological and renal dysfunction.
  • Understanding the role of poorly understood nutrients in pregnancy health and fetal development
    We must obtain a large number of micronutrients in our diet to ensure optimal health. The requirements for many of these micronutrients increase in pregnancy as the placenta actively transports these nutrients to the baby where they are required for essential biological processes or to provide the building blocks of life. This can mean that micronutrient deficiencies can become problematic at a time that the human body is undergoing the most significant changes to its physiology that occur during its lifetime. My research focuses on understand the key biological roles of such micronutrients in pregnancy which may better inform nutrient requirements to ensure a healthy pregnancy. I am currently most interested in understanding the roles of selenium and vitamin B12 in pregnancy in relation to poor pregnancy outcomes and long term disease in offspring.

Qualifications

  • Doctor of Philosophy, The University of Queensland
  • Bachelor of Science (Honours), The University of Queensland
  • Bachelor of Science, The University of Queensland

Publications

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Supervision

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Available Projects

  • The placenta regulates all aspects of pregnancy health. It secretes factors into the maternal system to control maternal blood glucose concentrations, blood pressure and neurological function. This study will investigate key pathological processes in the placenta which may contribute to gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, preterm birth and intrauterine growth restriction.

  • Given that only 1 in 20 Australians consume the recommended dietary intake of fruit and vegetables, most Australians would be deficient in key micronutrients when they fall pregnant. Deficiencies in these micronutrients is known to increase maternal risk of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia but their influence on offspring physiology is less well understood. This study will investigate the role of specific micronutrients in fetal development and offspring physiology. Most particularly, this project will focus on diabetes and renal disease in offspring, two comorbid conditions known to be affected by events that occur before birth.

View all Available Projects

Publications

Book Chapter

  • Cuffe, James S. M., Walton, Sarah L. and Moritz, Karen M. (2016). The developmental origins of renal dysfunction. The epigenome and developmental origins of health and disease. (pp. 291-314) edited by Cheryl S. Rosenfeld. London, United Kingdom: Academic Press. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-801383-0.00015-3

Journal Article

Conference Publication

Other Outputs

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

Possible Research Projects

Note for students: The possible research projects listed on this page may not be comprehensive or up to date. Always feel free to contact the staff for more information, and also with your own research ideas.

  • The placenta regulates all aspects of pregnancy health. It secretes factors into the maternal system to control maternal blood glucose concentrations, blood pressure and neurological function. This study will investigate key pathological processes in the placenta which may contribute to gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, preterm birth and intrauterine growth restriction.

  • Given that only 1 in 20 Australians consume the recommended dietary intake of fruit and vegetables, most Australians would be deficient in key micronutrients when they fall pregnant. Deficiencies in these micronutrients is known to increase maternal risk of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia but their influence on offspring physiology is less well understood. This study will investigate the role of specific micronutrients in fetal development and offspring physiology. Most particularly, this project will focus on diabetes and renal disease in offspring, two comorbid conditions known to be affected by events that occur before birth.