Dr Hui Chen is the Director of High Degree Research program and Chinese Program in the Faculty of Science, University of Technology Sydney. Hui finished her PhD degree at The University of Melbourne under three years, where she studied brain appetite and energy metabolism regulation in two mouse models, dietary obesity and cigarette smoking. Then she took up a postdoctoral position at the University of New South Wales in 2006, where she moved into a new area of research, fetal programming of early onset obesity and metabolic disorders. Studies focus on the impact of maternal obesity and maternal cigarette smoking on the neural regulation of appetite and brain glucose metabolism. Hui continued the same research area after she joined UTS in 2008. In recent years, Hui has extended her research into maternal e-cigarette smoking and air pollutant exposure.
Hui's team identify risk factors from epidemiological studies, and model these in rodents, addressing global health issues or new rising health risks. Her team was the first to report the harmful effect of maternal e-cigarette smoking on the health outcomes in offspring, especially vaping nicotine free e-cigarettes. This type of research is not possible in humans for ethical reasons, and epidemiological studies would take at least 60 years to complete (humans develop chronic diseases later in life). Her team endeavour to discover the solutions for those ‘born unlucky’. They use novel interventions targeting the pathways discovered in Hui's studies, which have been shown to reduce or reverse the phenotype due to adverse maternal impacts.
Hui's vision is to translate her research outcomes into health messages in the public domain, and influence policy making, such as the latest decision by the Health Minister not to lift the ban of selling nicotine e-cigarettes in Australia was after the consultation with my team.