Researcher biography

Dr Nicole Warrington is a NHMRC Emerging Leadership Fellow at the University of Queensland Institute for Molecular Bioscience. She has a strong background in statistical genetics and has been actively working towards understanding the genetic determinants of early life growth. Dr Warrington studied a Bachelor of Science at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, majoring in Mathematical Statistics and Psychology. She then completed an honours degree at The University of Western Australia, where she developed a keen interest for genetics, and was subsequently awarded an Australian Postgraduate Award to complete her PhD in statistical genetics and life-course epidemiology. During her PhD she spent time at the University of Toronto to gain experience in statistical modelling methods for longitudinal growth trajectories and conducted the first genome-wide association study of longitudinal growth trajectories over childhood. After completing her PhD, Dr Warrington started at the University of Queensland and focused on using genetics to inform about the relationship between birth weight and cardio-metabolic diseases in later life. She pioneered a new statistical method to partition genetic effects on birth weight into maternal and fetal components, and combined this method with a causal modelling approach, Mendelian randomization. This method was instrumental in demonstrating the relationship between birth weight and adult hypertension is driven by genetic effects, over-turning 30 years of research into the effects of intrauterine programming. More recently, her research focus has broadened to determine whether rapid weight growth across early life, including fetal development, childhood and adolescence, causally increases risk of cardio-metabolic disease and in doing so, hopes to identify optimal times across the life-course where interventions could reduce the incidence of cardio-metabolic diseases.