The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) Scholarship is granted for clinical-based research, which leads to the attainment of a PhD or equivalent Research Higher Degree, within obstetrics, gynaecology and their related disciplines.
The Scholarship is targeted toward young researchers and those eligible must be an Australian resident.
One Scholarship is awarded annually with the amount of $30,000 per annum for two years.
Applications are submitted to RANZCOG, assessed by a panel and the Norman Beischer Medical Research Foundation confirms the award. A Director of the Foundation, or representative, presents the Scholarship and The Foundation also receives a report on the work undertaken by the scholars.
Dr. Manarangi De Silva, PhD candidate
University of Melbourne
Dr Manarangi De Silva’s PhD project characterises the burden and risk factors of maternal morbidity and mortality in the Asia-Pacific Region.
Dr Manarangi’s research involves analysing data from nations in the Asia-Pacific region where such death rates are high, looking at the risk factors and improvement outcomes. Also she will investigate the association between betel nut consumption and adverse pregnancy outcomes, which contribute to maternal morbidity and mortality. This involves both a retrospective and prospective study with the Solomon Islands, where such research has not occurred for the past two decades.
Although betel nut is the fourth most commonly used substance globally, it is also well known for its adverse health effect outside of pregnancy. Due to a lack of evidence on how betel nut can affect pregnancy, Dr Manarangi’s research will look for robust evidence on the effects of betel nut with pregnancy.
Having already completed the first systematic review with betel nut and maternal and neonatal outcomes, Dr Manarangi will conduct a case study in the Solomon Islands, linking betel nut with hypertensive disorders of pregnancy. She will also conduct the first multinational, prospective study investigating betel nut and adverse pregnancy outcomes in the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.
The Norman Beischer Medical Research Foundation wishes Dr Manarangi all the best with her research.
Dr Carole-Anne Whigham
With the biggest risk factor for unexplained stillbirth being fetal growth restriction, Dr Whigham’s project involves the detection of circulating maternal biomarkers to predict fetal size.
The FLAG (Fetal Longitudinal Assessment of Growth) study has identified differently expressed genes at thirty-six weeks of gestation, within those destined to have a small baby. The intention was to develop a blood test able to predict small babies, as a reflection of placental function on the day the blood test is taken. As a result, the test could possibly help in high-risk pregnancies and reduced fetal movements at term, to identify babies requiring an urgent delivery, preventing stillbirth.
With aims of examining how placental proteins and mRNA in maternal circulation can correlate with birth weight on the day of delivery, and to create a multi-marker algorithm to predict fetal growth restriction on the day of the blood test, Dr Whigham characterised 1000 pregnancies. This involved communication and cooperation of blood samples between Melbourne’s Mercy Hospital for Women and a recruitment site in Chile, South America.
From the first 1000 patients, Dr Whigham’s study found 6.8 percent to be small for gestational age, which is less than expected, resulting in the continuation of recruitment to increase the number of small babies detected. With the aliquoting of plasma continuing, the intention is to run ELISAs in January of 2020.
A major discovery in the project is that a larger than expected proportion of FLAG 2 recruits have babies that are large for gestational age, which is 15.7 percent. As well as finding a marker for small babies, there is a high possibility that Dr Whigham will be able to detect ‘large for gestational age’ babies using protein biomarkers in the maternal circulation.
This has presented a great start in finding molecules that correlate with birth weight on the day of delivery and ultimately markers to correlate with a baby’s weight on any given day. Thus, this will provide valuable information on babies that are pathologically small, so that an intervention can take place before a stillbirth can occur.
Dr Whigham’s study continues, with the investigation of several proteins discovered in the original FLAG cohort, including SPINT, syndechan, sFlt:PIGF ratio, DAPK and GDF15.
To read Dr Whigham’s interim report, click here
Dr Amanda Poprzeczny
Dr Amanda Poprzeczny’s research has centred on the burden of overweight and obesity, including fetal and neonatal growth.
This has included performing analysis of the mediating effects of gestational diabetes on fetal growth and adiposity in the LIMIT randomized trial cohort of women.
Dr Poprzeczny has also analysed data from the GRoW randomized trial, investigating the effect of a combined intervention. This includes antenatal dietary and lifestyle advice, and oral metformin on fetal biometry and adiposity measures among women who are overweight or obese in early pregnancy.
To read Dr Poprzeczny’s progress report, click here
Dr Monica Zen
Dr Monica Zen’s project ‘Preeclampsia – prediction, prevention and long-term effects’ involved several aims. These included:
To read Dr Zen’s research report, click here
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