Student & ECR Spotlight – Na shares her work in creating a prospective pregnancy cohort to investigate the effects of nutrition on maternal and children’s health

Please tell us about your career pathway to date (positions and institutes).

I majored in nursing as Bachelor and Master. After postgraduate, I have been working until now in Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital of Fudan University as a diabetes nurse. When working, I realized that I needed to master more nutrition knowledge to take care of women with gestational diabetes. This is why I choose to study Nutriology now. I am currently undertaking a pregnancy cohort project with the School of Public Health, Fudan University and hope to complete my doctorate next year.


How would you briefly describe your current research/job to someone who is not familiar with your field of study/work? What is your main research interest?

My PhD project aims to study the relationship between dietary pattern, food and some nutrients with gestational diabetes and other pregnancy outcomes in China. My main interest is to how to prevent gestational diabetes during early pregnancy and how to prevent macrosomia.


What are the main barriers you encounter/experience when conducting research, or what information/skills do you lack to conduct high quality research?

One main barrier for me has been the time and resources required in a cohort study. Typically, there are three types of data collected, i.e., diet and lifestyle factors, biological data and data from medical records.  During the long follow-up time, I need to build relationships with the women in this cohort as well as the medical staff working in a hospital. Without their support, I cannot complete this work. Recruitment and bio specimen collection consume a substantial portion of the budget, thus, efficiency is paramount. What’s more, collecting and analyzing diet data is very time consuming, a strong team and financial support is very important to conduct a cohort studies.


What could help you as a student/ECR to further develop/grow in your current position?

I would like to cooperate with other researchers in different research fields but also have connections with my research such as researchers working in the laboratory or statistics or birth cohort and infant feeding practices. Cooperation could help me see the bigger picture as well as get a deeper insight into my own research. 


What do you think will be the next most important development in the nutrition and/or physical activity field?

Collecting diet data is really a challenge, especially due to its time-consuming feature. Therefore, I think developing devices to monitor eating behavior in a simple and reliable way is very important in the nutrition field.


You can get in touch with Na at [email protected]