Head of Laboratory

Associate Professor Karen Moritz


MacGregor Building, Level 5


  • Dr Marie Pantaleon
  • Dr Megan Probyn
  • Mr James Cuffe


  • Emily Dorey, PhD student
  • Lee OSullivan, PhD student
  • Emelie Gardebjer, PhD student
  • Carlie Cullen, PhD student
  • Richard Schlegel, PhD student
  • Danielle Burgess, Honours student
  • Tiffany Ke, Honours student
  • Jacinta Kalisch-Smith, Honours student


The aim of our laboratory is to understand how prenatal perturbations contribute to an increased risk of developing cardiovascular, renal and metabolic disease in adulthood. Over the last 5-7 years, our research has focused on determining the pivotal role played by the kidney in the developmental programming of adult disease. This research has shown a reduced nephron endowment is associated with hypertension and renal impairment in the adult following excess maternal glucocorticoid exposure, maternal low protein diet, placental insufficiency and most recently, prenatal alcohol exposure.

Recent Publications

  1. Moritz KM, Singh RR, Probyn ME, Denton KM (2009). Developmental programming of a reduced nephron endowment: more than just a baby's birth weight. Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 296: F1-9.

  2. Cuffe JS, Dickinson H, Simmons DG, Moritz KM (2011). Sex specific changes in placental growth and MAPK following short term maternal dexamethasone exposure in the mouse. Placenta. 32: 981-9.

  3. Moritz KM, De Matteo R, Dodic M, Jefferies AJ, Arena D, Wintour EM, Probyn ME, Bertram JF, Singh RR, Zanini S, Evans RG (2011). Prenatal glucocorticoid exposure in the sheep alters renal development in utero: implications for adult renal function and blood pressure control. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 301: R500-9.

  4. Gray SP, Denton KM, Cullen-McEwen L, Bertram JF, Moritz KM (2010). Prenatal exposure to alcohol reduces nephron number and raises blood pressure in progeny. J Am Soc Nephrol. 21: 1891-902.

  5. Singh RR, Jefferies AJ, Lankadeva YR, Lombardo P, Schneider-Kolsky M, Hilliard L, Denton KM, Moritz KM (2012). Increased cardiovascular and renal risk is associated with low nephron endowment in aged females: an ovine model of fetal unilateral nephrectomy. PLoS One. 7: e42400.

  6. Cuffe JS, O'Sullivan L, Simmons DG, Anderson ST, Moritz KM (2012). Maternal Corticosterone Exposure in the Mouse Has Sex-Specific Effects on Placental Growth and mRNA Expression. Endocrinology. In press.

  7. Probyn ME, Zanini S, Ward LC, Bertram JF, Moritz KM (2012). A rodent model of low- to moderate-dose ethanol consumption during pregnancy: patterns of ethanol consumption and effects on fetal and offspring growth. Reprod Fertil Dev. 24: 859-70.

Student projects

All projects may be available at both Honours and PhD level

1. Ethanol exposure during development: effects on organ growth and development

2. Effects of prenatal insults on the developing placenta

3. Prenatal hypoxia and the risk for adult onset renal and cardiovascular disease

Research support

NHMRC Project grant (2011-2013): The role of hypoxia in developmental programming of the kidney

NHMRC Project Grant (2013-2016): Periconceptional alcohol exposure: effects on the embryo and fetus and disease risk in adulthood