Mercia Barnes Trust research grants

About the grants

The Mercia Barnes Trust (MBT) was established in 1994 in memory of Doctor Mercia Barnes.

The Trust aims to assist and promote research in the area of women’s and reproductive health. The Mercia Barnes Trust specifically supports New Zealand research with a focus on supporting young researchers.

The Mercia Barnes Trust invites applications annually for research fellowships in the area of women’s and reproductive health up to a value of $35,000 each. Smaller or multiple grants are considered.


New Zealand researchers in the field of obstetrics and gynaecology and reproductive health can apply for this grant. You must have support of a host research institution.

Preference is given to young and/or early career researchers or studies that actively support the development of junior researchers.

It is a great opportunity for Aotearoa-based RANZCOG trainees to apply for funding for their FRANZCOG compulsory research requirement.

Number of grants

The Mercia Barnes Trust invites applications annually for research grants up to a value of $35,000 each. Smaller or multiple grants are considered.

Objectives and outcomes

The Trust encourages the study and advancement of the science and practice of obstetrics and gynaecology, and the study and teaching of the scientific aspects of human reproduction. Grants are intended to “promote knowledge in obstetrics and gynaecology, and further public education and promote the health and welfare of women and children.”

As well as tabling a report at each AGM of the Trust, recipients are encouraged to publish as well as share research findings with colleagues in one of the following ways:

Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM) presentation

Presentations to other appropriate forums

Provide a summary in the College’s publications / member newsletters

Grants from the Trust have contributed to a wide range of research projects. Areas of research undertaken include preterm delivery, hysterectomy, vulval cancer, premature ovarian failure, polycystic ovarian syndrome, endometriosis, dysmenorrhoea, small for gestational age babies, HPV testing, IVF and breastfeeding, maternal sleep practices and risk of late stillbirth, and perinatal mortality.

2022Dr Magda RatajskaExploring a novel target for therapeutic intervention in hereditary serous ovarian cancer ($35,000)
2022Dr Claire HenryDiagnostic potential of extracellular vesicles from cervical mucus for endometriosis ($35,000)
2022Dr Chiemi Lynch-SutherlandInsights into invasion: harnessing the potential of unique placental genes ($10,000)


The 2023 funding round is now open, closing Friday 10 March 2023 (applications open each November/December, and close in March the following year).

Note: Our application process has moved online in 2023. If you have any issues or feedback about the application form please email

Application process

When the application round opens, forms are made available on the website (and from our Aotearoa New Zealand office).

When applications close, an expert panel (grants committee) reviews each application. Applications are assessed across the following domains:


Support for junior researchers – is the applicant in early career or does the project support career of junior researchers?


Rationale, merit and significance – is there a clear need for the research and is it likely to impact on health outcomes for women in Aotearoa?


Responsiveness to Māori health – has consultation been undertaken with Māori and consideration given to how the study could contribute to addressing Māori health outcomes and reducing inequities?


Design and Methods – is the study well designed and is it feasible?


Track record of team – will a junior researcher be well supported and does the research team have a good publication record? (not key for RANZCOG trainee research projects)

The grants committee makes final recommendations to the Mercia Barnes Trust Trustees for funding. All applicants are notified of a result by 30 June.

About Dr Mercia Barnes and the Trust

Mercia Barnes Trust logo and image of Dr Barnes

The Mercia Barnes Trust (MBT) was established in memory of Dr Mercia Barnes.

Dr Barnes was born in Raetihi. An Otago graduate, she worked in a number of New Zealand hospitals before beginning her O&G training at St Helen’s in Christchurch. She was one of the first New Zealand women to train in obstetrics and gynaecology. She worked as specialist at Waikato Hospital and was secretary of the NZ Council of RCOG, then the first secretary of the local college when it was formed in 1982. In 1990 she was elected President of the RNZCOG, a position she held until 1994.

Sadly, she died suddenly a few weeks after completing her term of office and the Trust was named in her memory. The Mercia Barnes Trust was formed in 1994 to recognise her contribution to the specialty and to promote research in women’s health.

The Trust is currently administered by the RANZCOG Aotearoa New Zealand Office on behalf of Trustees. The current Trustees are Dr Andrew Murray (Chair), Professor Lesley McCowan, Dr Wendy Burgess, Dr Jim Faherty, Dr Ruth Swarbrick, and Mrs Phyllis Huitema.

The Trust aims to assist and support Aotearoa New Zealand research in women’s health with a particular focus on supporting early career researchers.

Support the Trust

​The Trust relies on centralised RANZCOG funding as well as donations to continue to provide research fellowships in women’s and reproductive health. 

Your donation will enable the Mercia Barnes Trust to support research to promote women’s health and improve the quality of care and health outcomes for wāhine, pepi and whānau. New Zealand residents can claim tax credits for donations of $5 or more as per IRD advice. An official receipt will be forwarded via email to you. If you have any issues/questions please contact


Get in touch with the RANZCOG Aotearoa office for alternative donation options:


For more information, please contact the Aotearoa New Zealand office:

Phone: +64 4 472 4608

15 February 2023