Student Spotlight - Jaye Marchiandi

Category: Our People

  11 Dec 2023

Name: Jaye Marchiandi

Degree: PhD (Analytical Chemistry)

Topic: “Sources, Biotransformation, and Risk of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) to Australian Health”

Institution: University of Melbourne

Supervisors: Dr. Bradley Clarke, A/Prof. Mark Green and A/Prof. Sonia Dagnino

Expected completion: February 2024


Contact Number: +61438088775

About myself

I’m currently in my final year of my PhD at the University of Melbourne. I have experience in researching the sources and health impacts of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), with a special interest in human health and fertility. I specialise in the extraction and quantification of emerging contaminants from complex biological and non-biological matrices using a range of analytical techniques.

My journey into research began unexpectedly. While studying Environmental Science at RMIT University, I didn't find myself particularly drawn to any specific area and environmental consulting seemed like the only option for me. That only changed in my last semester when I chose a science project focusing on emerging contaminants. This project, which involved investigating polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in sediment cores in Port Phillip Bay, introduced me to a different side of environmental science and it sparked my interest in research. I enjoyed it so much it eventually led me to do an honours project, which was on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination in non-alcoholic beverages. I gained a great deal of laboratory experience from these projects and they opened my eyes to crucial environmental issues such as chemical pollution, something I never fully understood the extent of before. But most importantly, they introduced me to Brad, who would become my primary PhD supervisor and mentor.

PhD Research Summary

My PhD project’s overarching goal is to better understand the sources and biotransformation pathways of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and how they affect human health and fertility. An EDC is any manufactured or natural chemical that can interfere with the body’s hormone system, which is used to regulate health and wellbeing. These chemicals are commonly used in everyday products and they can be found in food, water, air, dust, plastics, cosmetics, paper, textiles, carpets, etc. Despite their widespread use, there is increasing evidence that EDCs may negatively impact human health and fertility. The public health relevance of this problem is also under-recognised and understudied in Australia.

For my research, I wanted to move away from examining a single class of compounds to exploring the complex nature of real-world exposures, an approach aligned with the concept of the ‘exposome’. The exposome concept highlights how our health is connected to environmental risk factors from our diet, lifestyle, stress, and exposure to many biological and chemical substances, including environmental contaminants. The analytical methods I developed include a variety of manufactured chemicals, such as PFAS, plasticisers, antimicrobials, UV-filters, among other industrial chemicals, to which we are exposed in our daily life. My project ultimately aims to better characterise exposure assessment and evaluate reproductive impacts associated with chemical exposure in a real-world context.

The third chapter from my thesis (Exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals from beverage packaging materials and health implications for consumers) was just recently published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials. As the title suggests, we investigated factors relating to the presence of EDCs in a variety of non-alcoholic beverages packaged in plastic, glass, carton, cans and tin material. It was essentially a continuation of my honours project except much more comprehensive and robust. We showed that canned beverages have significantly higher levels of EDCs, in particular the plasticiser Bisphenol A (BPA), compared to all other packaging materials from the same brand. We also found that children and adults drinking 364 mL/day are exposed to BPA levels 2,000-fold higher than the newly revised safety guideline for BPA recommended by the European Food Safety Authority. Scary stuff!

Where to from here?

I was lucky enough to be offered a position at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in the Nutrition and Metabolism Branch. I’ll be part of the Onco-Metabolomics Team (OMB) working on the EU-funded EXPANSE project, which will study the impact of the Urban Exposome on the major contributors to Europe’s burden of disease, namely Cardio-Metabolic and Pulmonary Disease. My role in the OMB will involve using liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry (LC-MS)-based analytical techniques to identify metabolites in biospecimens like blood and urine, and to study variations linked to metabolic disease, encompassing biomarker discovery and the exploration of metabolic mechanisms influenced by urban lifestyle factors.

My long-term career goals involve continuing research in this field, particularly with a focus on health and infertility. I want to continue spreading awareness and scientific knowledge among the wider community so individuals can make better-informed decisions about their health. I hope to use my research to collaborate with experts worldwide, international organisations, governmental bodies, and other institutions to develop policies and practices to better protect current and future generations from chemical exposures.

Inspecting the partitioning of beverages from ethyl acetate

Partitioning of beverages from ethyl acetate

Presenting at DIOXIN 2023

You can find Jaye on LinkedIn, Research Gate and the ALEC website. Please don't hesitate to reach out to Jaye!