Research Scholarships & Fellowships in 2016
The RANZCOG Foundation offered a number of scholarships for application this year for research commencing in 2016. The process for evaluating scholarship applications aims to identify promising early-career researchers and the RANZCOG Research Grants Committee, which assesses these applications, was very impressed with the high quality of applications received.
The RANZCOG Foundation is pleased to present the following summary of recipients and research being conducted in 2016.
Arthur Wilson Memorial Scholarship, 2016–17
Recipient: Dr LuFee Wong
Institution: Monash IVF and Monash Ultrasound for Women
Project: ‘Reproducibility of three-dimensional ultrasound of the junctional zone in myometrial pathology and their correlation with pregnancy rates’
Dr Wong is a COGU Fellow at Monash Health and has been awarded the Arthur Wilson Memorial Scholarship for her project which aims to examine the inter- and intra-observer reproducibility of three-dimensional ultrasound visualisation of the endometrial-myometrial junction (EMJ), and the relationship between the EMJ irregularities and pregnancy rates in IVF cycles. It is hoped that being able to accurately diagnose adenomyosis will help in the diagnosis and counselling of patients with infertility before undergoing IVF.
Fotheringham Research Scholarship, 2016–17
Recipient: Dr Ryan Hodges
Institution: The Ritchie Centre, Hudson Institute, Monash University
Project: ‘Fetal therapy for congenital diaphragmatic hernia: a global partnership to translate surgical and cellular innovation’
Dr Hodges is the Head of Perinatal Services at Monash Health and holds a National Health and Medical Research Council Hamilton Fairley Early Career Fellowship at the Ritchie Centre, Hudson Institute, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Monash University. Dr Hodges has been awarded the Fotheringham Research Scholarship for his research that will endeavour to test the hypothesis that human amnion epithelial cells (hAECs), when administered antenatally to fetuses with congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH), can reduce lung hypoplasia and abnormal pulmonary vasculature that leads to pulmonary hypertension, by promoting tissue regeneration and repair in utero. Dr Hodges believes the findings of his project will extend to other fetal lung pathologies than CDH, for example oligohydramnios related pulmonary hypoplasia, the devastating consequence of early preterm pre-labour rupture of membranes and preterm birth.
Luke Proposch Perinatal Research Scholarship, 2016
Recipient: Dr Natalie Hannan
Institution: University of Melbourne/Mercy Hospital for Women
Project: ‘Clopidogrel: a potential treatment for
Dr Hannan is a C R Roper Research Fellow in the Translational Obstetrics Group, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Mercy Hospital for Women/University of Melbourne. Dr Hannan has been awarded the Luke Proposch Perinatal Research Scholarship for her project that aims to show that clopidogrel is highly effective at quenching the pathophysiological aspects of pre-eclampsia. If successful, it is hoped that her research will provide the first therapy, other than delivery, for the treatment of pre-eclampsia. For women with severe early-onset pre-eclampsia, halting or slowing disease progression would enable delivery to be safely delayed, reducing the risks of prematurity for the baby.
RANZCOG Fellows’ Clinical Research Scholarship, 2016
Recipient: Dr Erin Nesbitt-Hawes
Institution: Royal Hospital for Women
Project: ‘Four-dimensional ultrasound of the pelvic floor’
Dr Nesbitt-Hawes is a staff specialist gynaecologist at the Royal Hospital for Women. Dr Nesbitt-Hawes has been awarded the RANZCOG Fellows’ Clinical Research Scholarship for her project which will endeavour to create a nomogram for the four-dimensional ultrasound assessment of the pelvic floor musculature for gynaecological patients and those with pelvic pain.
Taylor Hammond Research Scholarship, 2016
Recipient: Dr Teresa MacDonald
Institution: Mercy Hospital for Women/ University of Melbourne
Project: ‘Improving the Prediction and Detection of Contributors to Term Stillbirth: Fetal Longitudinal Assessment of Growth (FLAG) Study.’
Dr MacDonald is a full-time PhD student and advanced obstetrics and gynaecology registrar at the Mercy Hospital for Women/The University of Melbourne Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Dr MacDonald has been awarded the Taylor Hammond Research Scholarship to undertake a prospective cohort study examining whether circulating mRNA that code eight placental specific genes in the maternal circulation at 36 weeks gestation can predict fetal growth restriction (FGR) at term. Dr MacDonald aims to develop a predictive blood test at 36 weeks gestation that can identify pregnancies at high risk of FGR at term. Such a test would enable clinicians to offer targeted surveillance and timely delivery, potentially reducing rates of stillbirth.
Brown Craig Travel Fellowship, 2016
Recipient: Dr Felicity Gould
Institution: Department of Urogynaecology at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, UK
Dr Gould is a Urogynaecology Fellow at the Royal Women’s Hospital and has been awarded the Brown Craig Travel Fellowship to allow her to travel to the Department of Urogynaecology at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, UK, for the purposes of undertaking research and observation. While at Addenbrooke’s, Dr Gould aims to conduct a primary research project in relation to ‘Analysis and Characterisation of Squamous Metaplasia over Bladder Trigone in Women’, and subsequently extend any significant research findings into a second project, as well as participating in other research underway within the Cambridge Unit, and learning and developing research skills by working alongside an experienced research team.
Scholarships continuing in 2016
Ella Macknight Memorial Scholarship, 2015–16
Recipient: Dr Shavi Fernando
Institution: Monash Health
Project: ‘Melatonin and infertility: Can we improve outcomes of assisted reproductive technology – a placebo controlled randomised controlled trial’
Dr Fernando was awarded the Ella Macknight Memorial Scholarship, 2015–16, for his project that will endeavour to determine whether melatonin has an effect on pregnancy rates and live birth rates in women undergoing in vitro fertilisation. Dr Fernando aims to determine how this effect occurs and what dose of melatonin is optimal.
Glyn White Research Fellowship, 2015–16
Recipient: Dr Stella Liong
Institution: Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department (Mercy Hospital for Women), the University of Melbourne
Project: ‘Can dietary phytophenols prevent the development of gestational diabetes?’
Dr Liong’s project, which aims to investigate whether phytophenols will be effective in the management and treatment of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), and also whether these phytophenols can also improve outcomes in both mothers and babies using a mouse model of GDM, will continue to be funded in 2016.
Mary Elizabeth Courier Research Scholarship, 2015–16
Recipient: Dr Luke Larmour
Institution: The Ritchie Centre, Monash Institute of Medical Research
Project: ‘Factors influencing the progression of high-grade cervical dysplasia to invasive carcinoma’
Dr Larmour was awarded the Mary Elizabeth Courier Research Scholarship, 2015–16, for his project examining how pre-cancer of the cervix of the uterus progresses to cancer. Dr Larmour’s project aims to use new technologies to find changes in the genes of pre-cancer and cancer cells. The importance and interaction of these genetic changes will be studied in a new mouse model of cervical cancer that will be developed. It is hoped that this will lead to identification of new targets for urgently needed new treatments for cervical cancer.