Professor Sant-Rayn Pasricha

Professor Sant-Rayn Pasricha



Prof Sant-Rayn Pasricha




Joint Division Head

Lab focus: reducing anaemia - from bench to village

Anaemia - a reduction in the blood's oxygen carrying capacity - affects up to 800 million women and children worldwide, with the majority of this burden falling in low income countries. However, anaemia also affects 4.5 per cent of Australians. Iron deficiency is one of the most common causes of anaemia. Our lab seeks to discover new therapies to prevent and treat anaemia by making fundamental discoveries into how the body regulates its iron stores. We also undertake field studies in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia to test new solutions and influence policy to address anaemia in babies and pregnant mothers.

Very little progress has been made in alleviating the global burden of anaemia over recent decades. Our lab aims to address this problem through a combination of approaches, including


  • Innovative filed trials to develop evidence which can be used for public health policies
  • Translational studies which apply cutting edge methods to samples from these studies to make new insights
  • Experimental laboratory projects to uncover fundamental processes in iron metabolism

Research interest

In the laboratory, we study how the master controller of systemic iron homoestasis, hepcidin, is regulated. Hepcidin is responsible for controlling iron absorption from the intestine and iron recycling from degraded red cells by the macrophage.

We are using novel epigenetic approaches to characterise new pathways which may regulate hepcidin gene expression. In addition, we are studying mechanisms by which erythropoiesis and anaemia may affect hepcidin expression.

In the field, we are undertaking large randomised controlled trials of iron interventions in rural Bangladesh (infants) and Malawi (pregnant women). These trials will provide much needed evidence to inform global health anaemia control policies. Samples from these trials will be available for analysis using cutting edge platforms including 16S rRNA gene sequencing for microbiota, CyTOF and flow cytometry, and molecular characterization, for example using high throughput RNA sequencing.

Finally, we assist and advise international and national organisations with research and policy development.

Two researchers smiling at the camera

Institute researchers have launched one of the largest international efforts to prevent and treat maternal anaemia in developing countries.

The study will also investigate the impacts of iron deficiency on the developing infant brain.

Clinical worker with trial participant

Professor Sant-Rayn Pasricha and his team are undertaking a program of large randomised controlled trials in rural Bangladesh and Malawi to assess new solutions for anaemia control with the goal of improving maternal and child health, including pregnancy outcomes, maternal wellbeing, infection risk and child growth and development.

Photo of a mother holding a baby

The WEHI Centre for Global Disease and Health discovers and develops innovative solutions to some of the biggest health challenges affecting the world’s poorest populations.