Dr Kimberley Wang is driven by a curiosity about early origins.
It underpinned her PhD research on cardiovascular disease, and after a move from Adelaide to Perth prompted a shift to respiratory studies, it guides her research as the 2019 recipient of the Asthma and Airways Career Development Fellowship.
“When I graduated with my PhD, I had a molecular skillset and my background was in early origins,” she says.
“Not many people were looking at the early origins of respiratory disease, so it was from an angle that hadn’t been explored before."
Kimberley’s one-year project, which builds on prior research around growth restriction in the womb and the risk of developing asthma, will see her investigate the role of allergen exposure, in close collaboration with her colleague Dr Peter Noble.
The origins of her own research career however stretch back to a summer of laboratory work following her undergraduate degree.
“I just wanted to be in the lab – I thought I’d just do one year of honours, but then I really enjoyed it and stayed,” she says.
Now based at the University of Western Australia’s School of Human Sciences, Kimberley is building up a research group investigating in utero mechanisms for the development of asthma. Her early origins work is motivated by the potential to design interventions and inform public policy.
“I can really understand the significance of the research, and today that still attracts me,” she says.
Receiving the Asthma and Airways Fellowship is a welcome recognition.
“This fellowship acknowledges my hard work and also indicates that people are interested in my research,” she says.
Asthma and Airways Career Development Fellowship, which is jointly funded by the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand, is one of several annual awards the National Asthma Council Australia offers to encourage asthma research.