Research themes, background, grants, prizes and awards.
The main focus of my research is preterm birth, which remains one of the big challenges in obstetrics. In the UK around 50,000 births are preterm, and the effects of preterm birth are lifelong. I am particularly interested in how infections and inflammation can lead to premature labour and damage to the developing baby. My aim is to develop better ways of diagnosing preterm labour and intrauterine inflammation and find new treatments to prevent complications.
I am a consultant obstetrician, and sub-specialist in maternal fetal medicine. In my clinical practice I have a special interest in preterm birth prevention and management of intrauterine growth restriction, which remain big challenges. Looking after families affected by these problems has inspired me to perform research into preterm birth prevention.
My research experience includes laboratory studies, preclinical research, epidemiological studies and clinical trials.
My PhD, performed in the Jennifer Brown research Laboratory investigated the production and function of antimicrobial peptides in pregnancy. Ongoing work in this are has suggested modulating antimicrobial peptides might be a strategy to prevent preterm labour. Together with other researchers at the Edinburgh Tommy's Centre we have developed a new mouse model of preterm labour to investigate this further.
During my training I undertook a fellowship at the University of Western Australia School of Women's and Infant's Health. I continue to collaborate with researchers there, developing new ways to diagnose fetal inflammation, and how to optimise anti-inflammatory treatments to prevent fetal damage using a sheep model of pregnancy.
In Scotland we have a unique opportunities to use Scottish population health data to explore the effects of the pregnancy environment on development. I have previously used the Scottish birth databases to explore the effects of induction of labour on perinatal outcomes. New collaborations through the Farr institute and ADRC will allow studies of environmental factors and HPV infection on pregnancy outcomes.
2016- 2018 Gapps GRAND CHALLENGES IN GLOBAL HEALTH: Preventing Preterm Birth initiative –A Systems Biology Approach to Pregnancy and Prematurity. Microbiome Metabalome Interactions in Women at Risk of Preterm Birth (Co-Investigator)
2015- 2018 National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment Program (£865,000). QUIDS: Quantitative Fetal Fibronectin to help decision making in women with symptoms of preterm labour (Chief Investigator)
2015- 2016 SPARKs Innovation Grant (£27,922) Advanced ultrasound as a non-invasive diagnostic test of fetal inflammation: A proof of principle study (Chief Investigator)
2014- 2018 National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment Program (£1.3 million). STOPPIT 2: An open randomised trial of the Arabin pessary to prevent preterm birth in twin pregnancy, with health economics and acceptability (Co-Investigator)
2014 British Maternal and Fetal Medicine Society Bursary (£4,940). New Ultrasound techniques to Diagnose Fetal Inflammatory Syndrome (Chief Investigator)
2013-2017 Chief Scientist Office, Scotland (£225,000) – Does promoting increased awareness of decreased fetal movements reduce stillbirth – a stepped wedge cluster randomised trial? (Co-Investigator)
2012-2103 Women and Infant’s Research Foundation, Western Australia ($14,605 AUD) – Production and Function of Amniotic Fluid Cationic Host Defence Peptides (Chief Investigator)
2011-2013 Jennifer Brown Research Fund (£17,504) – The Effects of Vitamin D on Antimicrobial Protein Production in Pregnancy (Chief Investigator)
2010-2013 Albert McKern Bequest (£29,850) – Hormonal Profiles in twin pregnancy (Chief Investigator)