Maternal and Foetal Health Focus of Doctoral Study
Research into maternal and foetal health concentrating on hypertensive pregnancy disorders such as pre-eclampsia and gestational hypertension secured Dr Nerolen Soobryan a PhD in Health Sciences (Physiology).
‘Symptoms of these conditions often present too late in pregnancy and are a major contributor to the death of mothers and unborn children. Furthermore, the two disorders have overlapping clinical manifestations - often misdiagnosed - but result in very different outcomes,’ said Soobryan.
‘In this study blood samples were collected from pregnant females with hypertensive pregnancy disorders with gestationally matched normotensive pregnancies used (as controls) to investigate factors that could be used as early biomarkers as well as differentiating factors between the two.
‘The work identified these markers at a molecular level by comprehensively scrutinising their angiogenic, metabolic and inflammatory pathways. The outcomes of this investigation provided a solid platform for in-depth analysis of the early biomarkers as well as a possible cost-effective method of detection.’
Soobryan said his accomplishment felt surreal - like he was in a dream. ‘My future aspirations are to keep aiming higher and rising to the top wherever my path leads me. I will continue my research no matter my occupation. I hope this will be an inspiration to others to strive hard to realise their professional, academic and personal goals.
‘Working full-time while studying posed a huge challenge in terms of time constraints, resource availability and funding, while the impact of COVID-19 made research, travel and procurement extremely difficult. However, studying at UKZN was seamless and being part of the University community makes me proud,’ he said.
‘I am exceptionally grateful to my supervisor Professor Irene Mackraj, and co-supervisor, Professor Jagidesa Moodley, for their support and guidance.’
Soobryan, an Academic Assessment Manager at MANCOSA, aims to become a full-time academic.
Words: Lihle Sosibo
Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal