Mi Lai MD PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow, Toronto General Hospital Research Institute
Supervisor(s): Dr. Michael Wheeler
About one in 10 women will develop gestational diabetes (GD) during pregnancy which puts them at a higher risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D); 30–50% of women with GD develop T2D within 10 years after delivery. Currently, there is no easy way for doctors to identify which of these women were at a greater risk of developing T2D.
The main goal of my work is to gain insight into the pathology of the transition from GD to T2D and to devise a more accurate means of identifying who will develop T2D among women with GD. In a study of over 500 women, my team found that the metabolic profiles of blood samples could potentially predict the development of T2D. Specifically, metabolic dysregulation in the early postpartum period may be associated with the development of T2D in women who experienced gestational diabetes during pregnancy. This discovery could lead to a test that will help doctors identify patients at risk of developing type 2 diabetes and help the patients to take preventative measures to avoid the disease.
Keywords: Metabolomics, Bioinformatics, Diabetes, Cohort research
How will your research improve patient care or impact public health?
About 30 to 50 percent of women who had gestational diabetes develop type 2 disease within 10 years after delivery. However, there is no effective way to identify them.
By identifying metabolic markers, we hope to develop a simple blood test for early prediction of type 2 diabetes risk in women who experienced gestational diabetes. Moreover, we hope our research will reveal novel targets to prevent or slow the progression of type 2 diabetes.
Why did you choose to explore research at UHN and/or at your specific lab?
I have always been interested in disease research, especially metabolic diseases like diabetes. UHN and UofT (where insulin was discovered) have a leading diabetes research platform and a world-class learning environment for islet biology. In the Wheeler lab, I am merging my omics/discovery background with metabolomics, bioinformatics and islet biology. Here, I have access to advanced techniques including high content cell screening, metabolomics and bioinformatics. This training experience will nicely complement my existing skillset and position me to reach my goal of becoming an independent researcher working in the diabetes field.
- 2019/2020 Banting & Best Diabetes Centre Post-Doctoral Fellowship
- Mi Lai, Ying Liu, Gabriele V. Ronnett, Anne Wu, Brian J. Cox, Feihan F. Dai, Hannes L. Röst, Erica P. Gunderson, Michael B. Wheeler (2020). “Amino acid and lipid metabolism in post-gestational diabetes and progression to type 2 diabetes: A metabolic profiling study.” Plos Medicine 17(5): e1003112. https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1003112
- Mi Lai, Dana Al Rijjal, Gabriele V. Ronnett, Brian J. Cox, Hannes L. Röst, Feihan F. Dai, Eria P. Gunderson, Michael B. Wheeler (2020). “Lipidomic Profiling Reveals Lipid Dysregulation and Predictors at Postpartum in GDM Patients Transitioning to T2DM.” eLife 9:e59153. https://elifesciences.org/articles/59153