Toinét Cronjé

Toinét Cronjé

Visiting researcher

My main interest is to better understand the molecular underpinnings of non-communicable diseases and how intervention strategies can be better tailored to target the molecular and not just the phenotypic aspects of diseases. Multi –omics applications are increasingly used and will only become more important as technologies improve in the years ahead. This acceleration provides an exciting environment for young investigators such as myself to expand rigorous epidemiological research with high-dimensional data analysis.

Prior to my Ph.D. I was performing largely laboratory-based research in the context of genetics and cardiovascular disease. This evolved to large-scale –omics during my Ph.D. where I performed epigenome-wide investigations in a population-based cohort in South Africa to expand my skills in data analysis and bioinformatics. I am currently leading a proteomics study, under the mentorship of Prof. Jensen, where I investigate plasma proteomics in relation to diabetes. I am also involved in a tissue-based proteomics investigation where the aim is to improve fibrosis staging in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Current research

I am a part of the Novo Nordisk Foundation-funded CHALLENGE platform research project 'Harnessing the Power of Big Data to Address the Societal Challenges of Ageing'. My core project aims to improve fibrosis staging and outcome prediction in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease using untargeted tissue-based proteomics. I am also involved in two cohort-based targeted plasma proteomics projects where I investigate the ability of these biomarkers to predict incident diabetes and dementia, respectively.

Apart from proteomics-based research I continue to pursue research related to my background in Nutritional epidemiology and Epigenetics. Specifically, I am involved in investigations of the dietary inflammatory index in relation to cardiometabolic disease risk as well as various dietary components in relation to cognitive function. In terms of epigenetics, I am currently investigating DNA methylation-based indicators of inflammatory status and how these biomarkers can be better leveraged in epidemiological research.



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