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Interactive Research School For Health Affairs (IRSHA), Pune

Mother and Child Health

Dr. Sadhana Joshi

The theme of my research is mother and child health which addresses the importance of maternal nutrition, with special reference to micronutrients and risk of developing metabolic/neurodevelopmental disorders in childhood and later life. My main focus is on maternal omega-3 fatty acids, folic acid and vitamin B12 since these micronutrients are the key constituents of one carbon metabolism which influence DNA and chromatin methylation patterns. A disturbed one carbon metabolism due to maternal micronutrient imbalance may lead to altered epigenetic programming in the fetus with implications for non-communicable diseases in later life.

At IRSHA I initiated the work on mother and child health in collaboration with the clinicians from Bharati Hospital on pregnancy related disorders (preeclampsia, preterm labor). The incidence of these pregnancy complications are alarmingly increasing in developing countries like India making it an important health issue. However, the mechanisms responsible for the pathogenesis of these complications have not been completely understood. Animal models are also used to validate the mechanisms of interactions of micronutrients during pregnancy and their role in fetal programming for adult diseases.

Current Research projects

  • Disturbed Maternal 1-Carbon Cycle in Preeclampsia Increases Risk for Cardiometabolic Variables in Children

    Funded by Department of Biotechnology, Government of India

    Micronutrients like vitamin B12 folate and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are key constituents of 1-carbon cycle that influence DNA and chromatin methylation patterns which may have implications in fetal programming. Influences of maternal nutrition on epigenetic programming are most important during prenatal and early postnatal development, when epigenetic mechanisms undergo establishment and maturation. Disruption of normal gene-specific methylation patterns by perturbations in maternal nutrition may affect pregnancy outcome which may have long term implications in the offspring.

  • ICMR Centre for Advanced Research - Investigating mechanisms leading to preeclampsia

    Funded by Indian Council of Medical Research, Government of India.

  • Disturbed maternal one carbon cycle in preeclampsia increases risk for cardio-metabolic variables in children

    Funded by Department Biotechnology, Government of India.

  • Pro-neurotrophins /p75NTR Signalling Contributes to Increased Apoptosis in Preterm Placentae

    Funded by Department of Science and Technology, India. Co-I

Publications: (International: 10; National: 6)

PhDs awarded: 13

Current Team

  • Dr. Nisha Wadhwani, Scientist B
  • Dr. Amrita Khaire-Ghadge, Research Associate (ICMR)

Technical Asstt.

  • Kamini Dangat: Research Assistant
  • Hemlata Pisal: Research Assistant
  • Nisha Kemse : Research Assistant
  • Vidya Patil: Technical Assistant
  • Vrushali Kadam: Technical Assistant (Nutrition)
  • Shruti Koparkar: Technical Assistant (Psychology)
  • Karuna Randhir: Technical Assistant (Statistics)
  • Sridevi Gundu: Nutritionist
  • Anjali Jadhav: Nutritionist
  • Sagar Bhosale : Social Worker
  • Vandana Suryavanshi: Social Worker
  • Mayur Swamy: Project Assistant
  • Yasmin Aktar: Project Assistant
  • Sakshi Shelukar: Project Assistant
  • Shweta Madiwale: Project Assistant
  • Anupam Poddar: Project Assistant
  • Prachi Joshi : Project Assistant


  • Vinita Khot (ICMR-SRF)
  • Harsha Chopra
  • Nisha Kemse
  • Akriti Sahay (DST INSPIRE-SRF)
  • Pranita A
  • Anindita Nandi (UGC - JRF)
  • Vaishali Kasture (DST INSPIRE-JRF)
  • Vidya Patil
  • Kamini Dangat
  • Shruti Jawale
  • Juhi Nema
  • Kinjal Dave
  • Anjali Jadhav

Dr. Preeti Chavan Gautam

The focus of this research programme is

  • Understanding the placental mechanisms involved in uptake, metabolism and transfer of nutrients from the mother to the fetus.
  • Understanding the role of growth factors in regulating cell survival, growth and apoptosis in the placenta and its effect on feto-placental growth and development.
  • Studies on the role of maternal nutrition/stress on placental mechanisms leading to adverse pregnancy outcomes like recurring pregnancy loss, preterm birth and preeclampsia.

Research projects:


  • Title: Epigenetic regulation of matrix metalloproteinases in preterm placenta.

    Funded by: Dept. of Science and Technology

    Role: Principal Investigator

    Duration: Feb 2012-15

    Status: completed

    This study showed an imbalance in matrix metalloproteinases (MMP-1, -2, -3,-9) and their tissue inhibitors (TIMP-1, TIMP-2) which possibly favors premature upregulation of matrix metalloproteinases leading to extracellular remodeling in the placenta thereby leading to preterm delivery. Further, we have reported differential effect of mode of delivery (vaginal Vs caesarean) on MMP levels in preterm placenta for the first time.

  • Title: Regional differences in neurotrophin regulation of vascularization in preeclamptic placentae

    Funded by:Indian Council for Medical Research

    Role: Co-Investigator

    Duration: 2015-17

    Status: On-going

  • Title: Exploring the efficacy of omega 3 fatty acid supplementation to a maternal high fat diet deficient in vitamin B12 in ameliorating the risk for impaired brain development and metabolic syndrome in the offspring.

    Funded by: Indian Council for Medical Research


    Duration: 2013-16

    Status: On-going


  • Title:Regional Fatty acid Metabolism and Transport in Preeclampsia Placentae
  • Title: Comparison of placental pro-NGF and p75NTR levels in term and preterm pregnancies

Dr. Anvita Kale

Neurodevelopmental disorders impair growth and development of the brain in the womb (Reynolds et al., 1999). These disorders affect approximately 12% of the global burden of disease (Reddy et al., 2013) and associated with cognitive impairment (Anjos et al., 2013). The neurodevelopmental disorders include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism (ASD), schizophrenia and dyslexia. Nutrition is one of the factors influencing the neurodevelopmental outcome. Our group will focus on the role of omega-3 fatty acids and explore the possible mechanisms through which omega 3 fatty acids may influence brain growth and development in these neurodevelopmental disorders.

The emerging role of gestational factors especially micronutrients like folic acid, vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids in shaping the brain and on the influence of these intrauterine experiences on later development of neurodevelopmental disorders is my focus area of research. The nine months of intrauterine development and the first three years of postnatal life are critical for periods of development. Further, the importance of these nutrients arises from the fact that an Indian population has a low consumption of omega-3 fatty acids and is known to be deficient in Vitamin B12. Currently due to Westernisation there is also an increased consumption of a high fat diet. Further, there is a rise in burden of mental disorders in developing coutries and a need to explore the underlying mechanisms.

Current Research projects as Co PI :

Centre for Advanced Research in “Investigating Mechanisms leading to Preeclampsia” funded by Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), India.(March 2017-March 2022).

Research projects Completed as PI:

Exploring the efficacy of Omega 3 fatty acid supplementation to a maternal high fat diet deficient in Vitamin B12 in Ameliorating the risk for impaired brain development and metabolic syndrome in the offspring funded by Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), India.(Dec 2013-Nov-2016).

Research Projects Completed as Co PI:

  1. Maternal micronutrient status, inflammatory markers and Risk for non-communicable diseases in the offspring in a preeclamptic rat model funded by department of biotechnology (DBT), India. (March 2013-April 2016).
  2. Multigenerational effects of vitamin B12 deficiency/supplementation on brain development and metabolic syndrome variables in a rat model funded by department of science and technology (DST), India. (Aug 2011-Nov 2014).
  3. Regulation of Fatty acid desaturases and transport proteins by maternal micronutrients in human placenta funded by Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), India (Aug 2012- June 2013)
  4. Role of maternal micronutrients on brain neurotrophic factors and cognitive development in Wistar rat offspring, funded by department of biotechnology (DBT), India. (March 2010-Feb 2013).


  • 33 Research Articles + 1 book chapter

Papers Presented In International Conferences (Total 24)

Papers Presented In National Conferences (Total: 22)

Resource Person for the CME on Basic Techniques in Research Methodology for Ayurveda “Analysis of biological fluids” held from 27th Feb to 4th March 2017 at the Interactive Research School for Health Affairs, Bharati Vidyapeeth (Deemed to be University), Pune

Current Team

  • Ms. Surabhi Dalvi (Technical Assistant)


  • Recipient of CSIR (Council for Industrial and Scientific Research fellowship) 1994 December.

    This is a national fellowship awarded for training in methods of research under the expert guidance of faculty members /scientists working in University Departments/ National Laboratories and Institutes in various fields of Science & Technology and Medical Sciences in India.

  • Recipient of NCL fellowship for the period of 1993-1995 for Masters in Biochemistry from Pune University.

    This is a national merit fellowship is awarded to 10 candidates annually based on a national examination conducted for over 5000 students.


  • Recipient of the Seva Gaurav Puraskar ”Best Researcher Award”, Bharati Vidyapeeth (Deemed to be University), 26th April 2016.
  • Recipient of the best poster award (for experimental nutrition) for the paper titled “Association Of One-Carbon Metabolism (Reduced Folic Acid, Vitamin B12), Docosahexaenoic Acid And Homocysteine Concentrations In Patients With Schizophrenia” at the 41st Annual meet of the Nutrition Society of India. 20th and 21st Nov 2009 at Hyderabad.
  • Recipient of RAMANATHAN AWARD for the best oral presentation for the paper titled “Essential Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Nerve Growth Factor Levels In First Episode Schizophrenia” in the Free Communication Session of the 39th National Conference of the Nutrition Society of India held at National Institute of Nutrition, Nov 15th-16th 2007 at Hyderabad.
  • The best poster award (for experimental nutrition) was awarded to the paper titled “Sensitivity Of Fetus To Of Alpha Linolenic Acid – An Essential Omega Three Fatty Acid” at the XXXVI Annual meet of the Nutrition Society of India This award was instituted by the organizers CFTRI, DFRL and University of Mysore., 5th - 6th Nov 2004 at Mysore.


  • Life member of Nutrition Society of India, India
  • Life member of Society for the natal effects on health in adults (SNEHA), India

NAAC, NIRF, UGC Coordinator for the institute for the year 2015-16.

Dr. Anitha Kilari

Her research program mainly focuses on ‘Health of Women’ from reproductive age to post menopause. Women with history of pregnancy complications like preeclampsia (PE) are at high risk for cardio-metabolic disorders in later life. Higher prevalence of non-communicable diseases is leading to > half of the 800,000 annual CVD deaths in women occur prematurely in India. Evidences suggest that adverse pregnancies such as PE, intrauterine growth restriction and preterm deliveries (PTD) have been associated with a 50-300% increased risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) and CVD-related mortality (Robbins et al., 2014; Fraser et al., 2012; Smith et al., 2009). The physiological demands of pregnancy on the maternal cardiovascular system can catapult women into a metabolic syndrome that predisposes to atherosclerosis in later life. Retrospective studies have reported the associations between cardio-metabolic risk and history of preeclampsia. However, no prospective studies have explored the associations between biochemical changes during delivery in adverse pregnancy conditions (PE / PTD) and cardio-metabolic disorders (CMD) in women at later life. Therefore, there is a need to study the associations between cardio-metabolic risk factors in women with their previous pregnancy biochemical parameters.

Research Projects:

Title: Evaluation of Cardio-metabolic Risk in Women with a History of Preeclampsia
Funding Agency: Bharati Vidyapeeth (Deemed to be University), Pune

Role: Principal Investigator
Status: Just initiated

Title: Disturbed Maternal 1-Carbon Cycle in Preeclampsia Increases Risk for Cardiometabolic Variables in Children
Funding Agency: Department of Biotechnology (DBT), New Delhi, India
Role: Co-investigator
Status: On-going
Duration: May 2015 to June 2018

Title: Role of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, neurotrophins and vascular endothelial growth factor in mothers with pre-eclampsia and their association with infant growth

Funding Agency: Indian Council for Medical Research, New Delhi,
Role: Co-investigator
Status: Completed
Duration: 2010-2012

Key findings of the project

Increases milk DHA levels inspite of lower plasma DHA levels in women with preeclampsia till 3 months of lactation. Milk linoleic and a linolenic Acids were increased while arachidonic and docosahexaenoic acids were gradually decreased from day 3 to 6 months of lactation. Breast milk NGF levels significantly increased while BDNF levels decreased from day 3 to 6 months in both controls and preeclamspsia (PE) groups At 6 mo, breast milk long chain fatty acids like DHA and AA were associated with baby weight.

Dr. Deepali Sundrani

Maternal nutrition plays a critical role in fetal development and determines the health of the offspring in early and later life. Human epidemiological studies have shown that alterations in key developmental processes in utero can predispose the offspring to many late-onset diseases. The placenta responds to perturbations in the maternal compartment, such as altered nutrition and reduced utero-placental blood flow thereby, playing a key role in programming the fetus to diseases. These programmed changes are likely to be a result of stable changes in the gene expression patterns which are influenced by epigenetic modifications. Epigenetics is the study of changes in gene expression without any alterations in the underlying nucleotide sequence. Understanding the influence of epigenetic mechanisms in adverse pregnancy outcomes like preterm birth, preeclampsia and low birth weight is my focus area of research. Further my research also focuses on studying the role of maternal nutrients particularly folate, vitamin B12 and polyunsaturated fatty acids in influencing the placental epigenetic patterns during pregnancy.

Research projects:


Title: Placental expression profile of mRNAs and miRNAs regulating angiogenesis and their association with placental fatty acids in preeclampsia


17 + 2 book chapters

Current Team

Ms. Rahat Khan (Technical Assistant)

Conducted free health check up camp for screening of metabolic syndrome:

On the occasion of birthday of Hon. Dr. Patangrao Kadam (Chancellor), and Hon. Dr. Vishwajeet Kadam (Secretary), Bharati Vidyapeeth University, Obesity-Diabetes lab in collaboration with Dept. of Community Medicine, Medical college, Bharati Vidyapeeth. It was held on 8th – 13th Jan 2018 from 10 am to 1pm at Anganwadi hall, Dandekar Bridge.

Blood donation drive:

BVU-IRSHA in association with Rajiv Gandhi ITBT and Bharati Hospital Blood Bank also jointly conducted a blood donation drive on 15th Jan 2018 at BVU-IRSHA. Dr. Sahebrao Mahadik, Georgia Regent University, USA inaugurated the camp by cutting the ribbon. Dr. D B Vani, In-charge of Bharati Blood Bank addressed the gathering and encouraged the staff & students to join for the noble cause. A total of 37 persons have donated blood in this camp.

Celebration of World Obesity Day & National Ayurveda Day

Dr Geeta Dharmatti (PhD Nutrition, Consultant) delivered a talk on Diet in Obesity (Modern Perspective) and Dr Rupali Pendse (M.D. Ayurved) on Diet in Obesity (Ayurvedic Perspective) Ethanopharmacology meeting was held

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