Dr Maniam is a scientist with international recognition studying the basic central and peripheral mechanisms underpinning the impact of early life trauma and later environments on mental and metabolic health outcomes. She obtained her PhD in Physiology and Pharmacology. Dr Maniam has used her multi-disciplinary expertise in behaviour, neuroscience, endocrinology, immunity, molecular biology and epigenetics to expand the understanding of the impact of early life stress on adult behaviour. Publications from her PhD have been internationally acknowledged in the field of early life stress. Dr Maniam was the first to implement novel strategies using non-invasive interventions (palatable diet/voluntary exercise) to ameliorate anxiety- and depression-like behaviours induced by early life stress. This novel discovery was published in two independent papers in the high-ranking journal of combined research field including behaviour, neuroscience and endocrinology . These two 2010 publications had significant impact in the field receiving more than 70 citations respectively in the past 5 years, as acknowledged by a UNSW citation classic award to Dr Maniam. Dr Maniam received several awards arising from these two publications including outstanding research achievement award (Dean’s award) at UNSW, outstanding Young Scientist to attend the Nobel Laureate Meeting, in Germany in 2012.
From 2012-2014, Dr Maniam made three simultaneous advances in expanding the knowledge of diet and stress. Firstly, Dr Maniam together with her PhD student demonstrated that short-term high fat diet impairs spatial memory, leading to a publication in high ranking Brain, Behaviour and Immunity. Secondly, Dr Maniam with her collaborator showed that long-term high fat diet impaired the neuroplasticity gene, reelin also published in Brain, Behaviour and Immunity. Thirdly, Dr Maniam recently established a robust rodent model of early life stress at UNSW. This model resembles the human condition, where a mother is present but care is fragmented. The novelty and impact of this recent work attracted an invitation to present in a symposium of world`s largest neuroscience meeting (30,000 delegates), Society for Neuroscience, 2014, USA which generated great interest. She also advanced understanding of the mechanisms underlying hippocampal gene alterations induced by early life stress combined with diet by examining the role of epigenetic modifications, receiving the best poster award at the ACPS conference 2014. During her postdoctoral research, she received an invitation to write a review article in Neuropsychopharmacology on the interaction between stress and diet (78 citations in less than 3 years) and Frontiers in Neuroscience on early life stress and later health outcomes.