Research Fellows Directory
Professor Julia Goedecke
University of Edinburgh
A/Prof Goedecke leads a research team examining ethnic disparities in non-communicable disease risk, with a specific focus on understanding mechanisms underlying the high risk for type 2 diabetes in black South Africans, using a multi-disciplinary approach to characterize the involvement of genetic, molecular, physiological and lifestyle determinants and their interaction. The Newton Advanced Fellowship will enable A/Prof Goedecke to extend her research skills through training in genetic epidemiology, and detailed physiological and biochemical measures of glucocorticoid metabolism. The aims of her specific research project are: i) to gain genetic insight into the variation in the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis in a black population; and ii) to understand the physiological consequences of this variation and associations with non-communicable disease risk.
A representative sample of 2500 black South Africans will be genotyped for variants within the SERPINA6 and SERPINA1 genes, which have been causally related to fasting cortisol concentrations in Caucasians. Genetic variants associated with cortisol levels in a black population will be identified. Participants with genotypes associated with the greatest diversity in fasting cortisol levels will undergo detailed biochemical analyses (e.g. total cortisol binding capacity, free cortisol and alpha1-antitrypsin concentrations), as well as further dynamic tests of the HPA axis (e.g. diurnal salivary cortisol levels, adipose tissue glucocorticoid receptor-regulated gene transcript levels). This research will provide insight into causal mechanisms underlying non-communicable disease risk in this vulnerable, high-risk population that will inform targeted interventions to prevent and manage non-communicable diseases in South Africa.
Interests and expertise (Subject groups)