Pregnancy & Reproduction Research

The HMRI Pregnancy and Reproduction program brings together researchers focussed on understanding the environmental and biological processes that affect fertility, reproduction, pregnancy and birth.

With 1 in 6 couples in Australia being infertile, and 1 in 3 women aged over 35 years of age having fertility problems, research into pregnancy and reproduction has never been more in demand. More than 1 per cent of babies are born as a result of assisted reproduction in Australia and this marks a new generation of children who are the product of successful scientific technologies. (Source - ABC Health & Wellbeing Infertility Fact File)

The HMRI Pregnancy and Reproduction program brings together researchers focussed on understanding the environmental and biological processes that affect fertility, reproduction, pregnancy and birth.

Combining two of the world’s most elite reproductive biologists, Laureate Professor John Aitken and Professor Roger Smith AM, the HMRI Pregnancy and Reproduction research group in partnership with the University of Newcastle’s Priority Research Centre for Reproductive Science is a world class research program, uniting expert researchers from across the globe who specialise in researching fertility and embryo development right through to pregnancy and birth.

Researchers in the HMRI Pregnancy and Reproduction research group specialise in all aspects of reproductive health. From how bacteria, chemicals and genetics can all affect fertility through to developing new commercial methods of contraception, including a form that aims to reduce the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Researchers in this group are the world’s best at investigating and improving fertility; even registering several patents including a novel method of separating sperm for IVF procedures which improves the chance of successful fertilisation and implantation.

Once conceived, the early life health of a baby, including during pregnancy, is known to influence their health outcomes and risk for disease later in life. A baby born with low birth weight (a surrogate marker for intrauterine health) may have an increased risk for adult diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity and kidney failure later in life. In fact, babies who have low weight at birth are at greater risk of dying during the first year of life (Source - Department of Health), highlighting that research into pregnancy and the health of the baby is just as important as the reproductive health of the parents. Indeed, promoting ‘a healthy start to life’ is now one of the Australian Government’s most important National Research Priorities.

The HMRI Pregnancy and Reproduction program researches the whole spectrum of reproductive health including:

John Aitken - Reproduction and Fertility Researcher
Research Program :
  • Pregnancy & Reproduction
Research Topics :
Reproduction & Infertility
Laureate Professor Roger Smith AM - HMRI Pregnancy and Reproduction Program Leader
Research Program :
  • Pregnancy & Reproduction
Research Topics :
Pregnancy & Babies
Research Program :
  • Pregnancy & Reproduction
Research Topics :
Reproduction & Infertility
Research Program :
  • Pregnancy & Reproduction
Research Topics :
Clinical Cardiovascular, Heart Physiology, Pregnancy & Babies
Dr Mohamed Galal - Pregnancy Research
Research Program :
  • Pregnancy & Reproduction
Research Topics :
Pregnancy & Babies
Research Program :
  • Pregnancy & Reproduction
Research Topics :
Pregnancy & Babies

2016

Is placental aging the key to understanding, predicting and preventing stillbirth?
Fellowship
Researchers:

2015

Equal Futures Award
Project Grant
Researchers:
Description:

Kirsty will use The Equal Futures funding to attend the 2016 National Higher Education Women Leadership Summit in Melbourne 2016. 

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Understanding female fertility: The importance of cytokine signalling in premature menopause
Project Grant
Researchers:

Dr Jessie Sutherland 

Description:

Premature ovarian failure (POF) is the early loss of ovarian function before age 40.

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The prediction and prevention of hypoglycaemia using insulin suspension in a randomised controlled trial (TLGM study)
Project Grant
Researchers:

Associate Professor Bruce King

Description:

1st Clamp study
$1,000/participant - on completion of 3 clamp studies

2nd Clamp study
$1,000/participant - on completion of 3 clamp studies

Recruitment of trial participant
$500.00/participant - on 5 participants completing visit 1

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Regulation of estrogen activation in human parturition
Project Grant
Researchers:

Dr Gemma Masden, Dr Sharyn Rayner
 

Description:

Preterm birth is the leading cause of neonatal death and sickness and so the prevention of preterm labour is one of the major goals in obstetrics.

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Understanding suicide in young Australians
Project Grant
Researchers:

Professor Chris Doran, Dr Rod Ling
 

Description:

Suicidal behaviour has gained recognition worldwide as a significant public health problem. 

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Do we need to intervene in preterm infants with a patent ductus arteriosus?
Project Grant
Researchers:
Description:

Preterm birth continues to be a major health problem throughout the world. 

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A safer way of treating premature labour and post-partum haemorrhage
Project Grant
Description:

The charitable purpose of this grant is to deliver liposomes, coated with an antibody that recognizes the oxytocin receptor (OTR), directly to the muscle of the uterus.

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Achieving Targeted Delivery of Drugs to Uterine Muscle in Women for the Prevention of Preterm Labour
Project Grant
Description:

Premature birth is the most common reason for a newborn baby to die. Unfortunately, current treatments for premature birth are not very effective.

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JDRF Travel Grant Award - American Diabetes Association in June in San Francisco
Project Grant
Researchers:

Ms Megan Patterson, Associate Professor Bruce King, Dr Carmel Smart, Dr Prudence Lopez
 

Gomeroi gaaynggal Community ArtsHealth
Project Grant
Researchers:

Dr Kym Rae

Description:

Funding to support the Gomeroi gaaynggal Community ArtsHealth running in Tamworth - covers art consumables which brings participants into the centre to participate in health screening and research being conducted.

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Is placental aging the key to understanding, predicting and preventing stillbirth?
Fellowship
Researchers:
Description:

Globally, nearly 1% of all pregnancies end in stillbirth (3 million each year). The magnitude and gravity of stillbirth is such that in 2011 an entire Lancet series was devoted to it and urged a strong call to action, concluding that greater knowledge of causes is a key health priority. In Australia, stillbirth accounts for around 70% of all perinatal deaths (7 deaths per day) and is nearly 40 times more common than Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Existing knowledge has had no impact on reducing the stillbirth rate, and a 2013 BMJ review of the UK data on stillbirth concluded "preventive strategies need to focus on improving antenatal detection".

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2014

Using Art to improve the health of Aboriginal mothers and their babies
Project Grant
Researchers:

Professor Roger Smith, Dr Kym Rae 

The prediction and prevention of hypoglycaemia using insulin suspension in a randomised controlled trial (TLGM study)
Project Grant
Researchers:

Associate Professor Bruce King 

What is the optimal percentage of rapid and extended bolus insulin in a combination insulin bolus?
Project Grant
Researchers:

Dr Prudence Lopez, Bruce King, Carmel Smart 

Understanding the Effects of Persistent Chlamydia Infection in the Male Germline
Project Grant
Researchers:

Ms Kate Redgrove, Professor Eileen McLaughlin 

Description:

Chlamydia trachomatis is the most common sexually transmitted disease in Australia and worldwide, where it is estimated that more than 100 million new cases are reported annually.

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Stress in pregnancy and poor neurodevelopmental outcomes in children: the role of miRNA in regulating neurosteroid dysfunction
Project Grant
Researchers:

Dr Hannah Palliser, Associate Professor Jon Hirst

Description:

There is growing evidence suggesting a link between a mother’s stress during pregnancy and anxiety, learning and behavioural problems in the child.  

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Achieving Targeted Delivery of Drugs to Uterine Muscle in Women for the Prevention of Preterm Labour
Project Grant
Description:

The research team has developed a mechanism for targeting the delivery of drugs to the uterine muscle which they believe will prevent or block preterm labour.

more
Gomeroi gaaynggal Community ArtsHealth
Project Grant
Researchers:

Dr Kym Rae

Description:

Funding to support the Gomeroi gaaynggal Community ArtsHealth running in Tamworth - covers art consumables which brings participants into the centre to participate in health screening and research being conducted.

more
Development of a chemotherapy response/resistance test for ovarian cancer
Project Grant
Researchers:
Is placental aging the key to understanding, predicting and preventing stillbirth?
Fellowship
Researchers:
Description:

Globally, nearly 1% of all pregnancies end in stillbirth (3 million each year). The magnitude and gravity of stillbirth is such that in 2011 an entire Lancet series was devoted to it and urged a strong call to action, concluding that greater knowledge of causes is a key health priority. In Australia, stillbirth accounts for around 70% of all perinatal deaths (7 deaths per day) and is nearly 40 times more common than Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Existing knowledge has had no impact on reducing the stillbirth rate, and a 2013 BMJ review of the UK data on stillbirth concluded "preventive strategies need to focus on improving antenatal detection".

more
JDRF Travel Grant Award
Travel Grant
Researchers:

Ms Megan Paterson, Associate Professor Bruce King, Dr Carmel Smart, Dr Prudence Lopez 

Description:

American Diabetes Association in June in San Francisco

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2013

Is placental aging the key to understanding, predicting and preventing stillbirth?
Project Grant
A comparison of three insulin dosage algorithms for meals of variable macronutrient composition on postprandial glucose levels in children with type 1 diabetes
Project Grant
Researchers:

Dr Carmel Smart, Bruce King 

What is the impact of meals of varying fat and protein content on postprandial blood glucose level in children and young people with type 1 diabetes mellitus
Project Grant
Researchers:

Associate Professor Bruce King, Dr Prudence Lopez and Dr Carmel Smart 

Description:

Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus (T1DM) is a chronic disease which places a significant burden of management on patients and their families. 

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The Role of the GTPase Dynamin in the Female Germline (Pregnancy & Reproduction Program Bridge Funding)
Fellowship
Researchers:

Dr Kate Redgrove, Dr Janet Holt, Professor Eileen, McLaughlin, Associate Professor Brett Nixon 

Description:

Dr Redgrove’s successful PhD project focused on developing an understanding of the molecular mechanisms that underpin the functional maturation of human spermatozoa.

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Does a novel biomarker of renal function in pregnant Indigenous Australian women predict their future renal and cardiovascular health?
Project Grant
Description:

Predicting future renal and cardiovascular health in pregnant Indigenous Australian women

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Protecting Pregnant Women from Death during influenza epidemics
Project Grant
Description:

Pregnant women are much more susceptible to viral infections.

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Epigenetic Regulation of Progesterone Receptors and the Onset of Labour
Project Grant
Dynamin role in sperm oocyte interaction
Project Grant
Researchers:

Professor Eileen McLaughlin, Brett Nixon, Adam McCluskey

High-flow nasal cannulae versus ambient oxygen to treat early neonatal respiratory distress in non-tertiary special care nurseries. A multicentre, randomised controlled trial.
Project Grant
Researchers:

Associate Professor Adam Buckmaster, Ian Wright 

2012

Early Career PULSE Travel Award 2012
Project Grant
Researchers:
HMRI Children’s Research Exchange Visit Travel Award 2012
Project Grant
Researchers:

Ms Rebecca Dyson
 

Ramaciotti Equipment Grant - Mothers & Babies
Equipment Grant
Researchers:

John Fitter

The Gastronomic Lunch of the Year Fellowship
Project Grant
Researchers:

Dr Bruce King, Carmel Smart, Patricia Crock, Don Anderson
 

Reduction of Teenage Pregnancy in Aboriginal Communities Project
Project Grant
AdDIT Study
Project Grant
Researchers:

Associate Professor Bruce King

2011

Reduction of Teenage Pregnancy in Aboriginal Communities Project
Project Grant
Researchers:
The role of the intrarenal renin angiotensin system in preeclampsia and gestational hypertension - HMRI Project Grant
Project Grant
Researchers:
Award for Early Career Research - Mark Baker
HMRI Award for Early Career Research
Researchers:

2010

The development of an algorithm for meals using a closed-loop insulin pump
Scholarship
Researchers:

Dr Bruce King, Dr Prudence Lopez
 

Reduction of Teenage Pregnancy in Aboriginal Communities Project
Project Grant
Researchers:
SLX4 - a key regulator of male germ cell development and DNA repair - Foundation Chair Project Grant
Project Grant
Researchers:

Professor Eileen McLaughlin, Brett Nixon
 

The design of novel, affinity-based technology to specifically isolate phosphotyrosine-containing peptides
Project Grant
Researchers:

Dr Mark Baker, Professor Adam McCluskey 

Identiftying vulnerable sites in the male genome
Project Grant
Researchers:

2009

Reduction of Teenage Pregnancy in Aboriginal Communities Project
Project Grant
Researchers:
The role of Prorenin in the First Trimester Placenta: Key to Pregnancy Success
Project Grant
Researchers:
Aging eggs: understanding the molecular mechanisms of declining female fertility.
Project Grant
Researchers:

Professor Keith Jones, E McLaughlin
 

Preterm Infant Carbon Monoxide Study (PICOS)
Project Grant
Researchers:

Dr Ian Wright
 

2008

Characterisation of Cardiovascular Adaptation in Newborn infants.
Project Grant
Researchers:

Dr Ian Wright
 

Equipment Grant
Equipment Grant
Researchers:

Dr John Fitter

Equipment Grant
Equipment Grant
Researchers:
The risk of intrauterine (pro)renin / (pro) rennin receptor system in prostaglandin synthesis.
Project Grant
Researchers:
PULSE Education Prize
Project Grant
Researchers:
Understanding the aetiology of human male infertility: Elucidation of the mechanisms underpinning sperm-egg interaction
Project Grant
Researchers:

Dr Brett Nixon, Dr Eileen McLaughlin
 

Linking Cigarette Smoking to Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes in Aboriginal Women
Project Grant
Researchers:

Professor Roger Smith, Dr K.M Rae, Professor P.D Jones
 

Elisa Plate Washer
Equipment Grant
Researchers:

Dr John Fitter
 

Lessons for Transplantation from Pregnancy ($70K per year for three years - to employ a research assistant $50K and provide reagents $20K)
Project Grant
Researchers:
Reduction of Teenage Pregnancy in Aboriginal Communities Project
Project Grant
Researchers:

2007

Development of pituitary autoantibody assays
Project Grant
Researchers:

Professor Patricia Crock
 

Regulation of prostaglandin synthesis by the protein / rennin system in preterm labour
Project Grant
Researchers:

Professor Eugenie Lumbers, Professor Tamas Zakar
 

Proteomics and Genomis
Project Grant
Researchers:

2006

Environmental Impacts on Female Fertility and the menopause
Project Grant
Researchers:

Dr Eileen McLaughlin
 

Neursteroids in the neonatal brain; potential role in protecting against perinatal brain injury
Project Grant
Researchers:

Dr Jonathon Hirst,  Associate Professor Vicki Clifton
 

Characterisation of the sex-specific differences in preterm neonatal cardiovascular adaption
Project Grant
Researchers:

Dr Ian Wright, Dr VL Clifton
 

Lessons from Pregnancy that may help transplantation in Diabetes
Project Grant
Researchers:

Professor Roger Smith, Jorge Telosa
 

Proteomics and Genomis
Project Grant
Researchers:

2005

Award for Research Excellence - John Aitken
HMRI Award for Research Excellence
Researchers:
Finometer (equipment) (originally granted $5.5K, didn't include $1K donated by KPMG Foundation to be included with Tainn Hunter Classic funds - $3.75K Feb 05 / $1.75K Dec 03 and $1K KPMG Dec 03)
Equipment Grant
Researchers:

Dr Ian Wright
 

Proteomics and Genomis
Project Grant
Researchers:
Gene profiling of the detoxifying enzymes present in the males herm line
Project Grant
Identification of target autoantigens in pituitary autoimmunity
Project Grant
Researchers:

Professor Patricia Crock
 

2004

Does Immune activity trigger human birth ?
Project Grant
Researchers:

Dr Eng-Cheng Chan
 

MBRC - Seminar Series 2004
Project Grant
Researchers:

Dr John Fitter
 

Identification of Predictors of Infection in Pregnant Women / IgA Responses to infection in Pregnancy
Project Grant
Researchers:
Sharp study of Heart and Renal Protection
Project Grant
Researchers:

Associate Professor Shane Carney
 

Evaluation of family partnerships model training and its possible impact on child and family health nurses' practice and client care
Project Grant
Researchers:

Professor Diana Keatinge, Dr C Fowler
 

Gene regulation by Omega-3 fatty acids controls preterm labour
Project Grant
Researchers:

Dr Richard Nicholson, Dr BR King
 

2003

Multicentre Trial of Calcium Channel Blocker versus Calcium Channel Blocker plus Cox2 inhibitor in preterm labour - BORN Trial
Project Grant
Researchers:

Professor Roger Smith, Professor Warwick Giles, Dr Andrew Gill
 

Comparison of the number of mitochondria in cells between placental cells and fetal lymphocyres.
Project Grant
Researchers:

Professor Roger Smith, Dr Rick Nicholason, Dr Bruce King
 

Prediction of birth by Prostaglandin metabolite labels in urine.
Project Grant
Researchers:

Dr Tamas Zaka, Dr IMR Wright
 

A randomised control trial comparing diabetic children provided with fortnightly phone support to c control group receiving regular support.
Project Grant
Researchers:

Dr G Anderson, Sr E Nunn
 

Quantitive EEG analysis of the maturational changes associated with childhood and juvenile absence epilepsy.
Project Grant
Researchers:

Dr Roger Smith, Dr Mick Hunter
 

PULSE Education Prize
Project Grant
Researchers:

Ms Sabrina Pitt
 

Young Investigator of the Year
Project Grant
Researchers:

Dr Brett Nixon
 

The role of cytokines in the activation of the ovarian follicle
Project Grant
Researchers:

Dr Eileen McLaughlin, Professor John Aitken
 

Causes of Premature Birth
Project Grant
Researchers:

2002

Peripheral vascular tone in the neonatal period; the influence of pre-eclampsia
Project Grant
Researchers:

Dr Ian Wright, Professor W Giles
 

Development of a Children's memory questionnaire
Project Grant
Researchers:

Dr Karen Drysdale, Mr W Levick
 

Rehabilitation of attention and executive functions deficits in children.
Project Grant
Researchers:

Dr Karen Drysdale, Mr W Levick
 

Factors that determine the onset of menopause
Project Grant
Researchers:

Dr Eileen McLaughlin, Professor John Aitken
 

Causes of Premature Birth
Project Grant
Researchers:

2001

Causes of Premature Birth
Project Grant
Researchers:

2000

Glucocorticoid regulation of prostaglandin pathways involved in pre-term labour
Project Grant
Researchers:

Dr Tamas Zakar,  Dr Vicki Clifton
 

Award for Research Excellence - Roger Smith
HMRI Award for Research Excellence

1999

A urine test to predict pre-term delivery
Project Grant
Researchers:

Professor Warwick Giles
 

Award for Early Career Research - 1999 Vicki Clifton
HMRI Award for Early Career Research
Researchers:

Vicki Clifton