Fellow 2023-25

DR Clare Whitehead

The 2023-2025 Norman Beischer Clinical Research Fellowship has been awarded to Dr Clare Whitehead to help improve outcomes for babies born.  With the Fellowship’s $600,000 funding, Dr Clare Whitehead will lead the PLATIPUS trial, a world-first innovative trial investigating multiple questions about how best to care for mothers at risk of preterm birth, and their babies after birth.

Preterm birth is a global challenge, with 15 million babies born preterm every year, of whom 1 million will die due to complications of prematurity.  In Australia, nearly 9% of all births occur before 37 weeks, with those babies born at the earliest gestations most at risk of both short- and long-term health complications.  Improving outcomes for these babies involves improving care of the mother at risk of preterm birth, care at the time of delivery and care in the neonatal unit after birth.  Despite decades of research, there are still many unanswered questions about how to do this best, and current clinical trial design is often a slow and costly way to do this.

Dr Whitehead leads the Platform for Adaptive Trials in Perinatal Units (PLATIPUS) which is using an innovative trial design to simultaneously answer questions about care in pregnancy and for babies in the neonatal unit.  This new approach is a much more efficient and cost-effective way to ensure we get better evidence to improve care sooner.  This Medical Research Future Fund funded trial is transforming the way clinical trials will be conducted in pregnancy and newborn medicine.  The Norman Beischer Clinical Research Fellowship complements this by ensuring PLATIPUS includes the questions and outcomes that are most important to families as well as doctors and researchers.

Dr Clare Whitehead is an obstetrician with subspecialist qualifications in maternal fetal medicine and is Head of Fetal Medicine at The Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne.  She is Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at The University of Melbourne, and the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.  She Chairs the PSANZ Interdisciplinary Maternal and Perinatal Clinical Trial Network which brings together clinician researchers across Australia and New Zealand to collaborate and conduct high quality clinical trials that drive practice change.

“So often, pregnant women and their families are not given the opportunity to tell us what matters most to them.  This Fellowship will put them at the centre – informing us what they want to know, what matters most for themselves and their babies, and how they want us to involve them in clinical trials.”

“Being awarded this Fellowship is an amazing opportunity to transform research to improve outcomes for preterm babies, and to ensure Australia is leading the world in this type of research.”

How to donate

Please use our account details below to make your contribution.

Account Name: Norman Beischer Medical Research Foundation
Bank: Bendigo
BSB: 633000
Account No: 5529128

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