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Award-winner looks at vitamin D absorption

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Fang Juinn Yu

Final-year honours student Fang Juinn Yu impressed the judges at a major conference in Queenstown; now he hopes to impress a journal editor.
Mr Yu presented the findings of his BPharm (Hons) research project, raising questions about vitamin D dosing in pregnant women and infants, and won an award for his efforts.
It was his first-ever conference presentation, at the 2015 Australasian Society of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacologists and Toxicologists (ASCEPT) conference in September. He won the Evan Begg prize for best clinical pharmacology oral presentation.
The next challenge, with help from his supervisor Dr Hesham Al-Sallami and collaborators, will be to complete a paper and get it published. Mr Yu is well aware of the phenomenon of “publication bias” towards positive findings.
His findings on patient variables in the dose-response relationship of vitamin D are intriguing although not positive.
Working in the pharmacometrics laboratory in Otago’s School of Pharmacy, Mr Yu looked at data from 260 Auckland pregnant women and their infants who were participants in a large vitamin D study led by researchers at Starship Hospital.
He noticed a discrepancy in average weight between pregnant women who achieved optimal vitamin D status and those who remained suboptimal despite receiving a high dose of vitamin D (2000 IU). So he used the subjects’ data to develop a model testing how influential patient variables such as size, age, and ethnicity might be on vitamin D uptake.
His analysis revealed these had no significant influence.
It’s possible the results mean vitamin D behaves highly variably in the body or, alternatively, the models and data were inadequate to detect effects of the patient variables analysed.
Mr Yu is now seeking work as an intern hospital pharmacist in his home country, Malaysia. He intends to return to the Otago School of Pharmacy to embark on a PhD in the near future.

Article written by Virginia McMillan for Pharmacy Today, November 2015