Liggins Institute students scoop research awards

02 June 2016
Portrait of Dr Charlotte Oyston
Dr Charlotte Oyston

Liggins Institute PhD students scooped six out of 13 awards for research presentations at a major international conference in May.

The Perinatal Society of Australia and New Zealand (PSANZ) annual conference showcases cutting-edge research into improving the health and long-term outcomes for mothers and their babies.

“Presenters came from research centres all across Australia and New Zealand, so the fact that Liggins students won almost half of the prizes is really quite impressive,” says Professor Frank Bloomfield, Liggins Institute director, also a neonatologist at Starship Hospital and immediate past PSANZ president.

“It underlines the extremely high calibre of the students we attract.”

One of the winners was Dr Charlotte Oyston, who presented on her PhD research into a novel therapy for fetal growth restriction, a condition in which fetuses fail to grow as expected. Dr Oyston won the David Henderson-Smart scholarship, which she has already used to travel to Canada to present her research at a meeting of the Society for Reproductive Investigation (SRI), North America’s premier conference in this field.

Neonatal and paediatric dietician Barbara Cormack won three awards for her two presentations: one on her research into sex differences in the metabolism of extremely low-birthweight babies; the other on making newborn nutrition and growth studies easier to compare by standardising reporting.

The Institute’s multidisciplinary approach was reflected in the breadth of topics that students, research staff and alumni presented on at the conference. Other topics included: barriers in clinical practice to giving steroids to mothers at risk of preterm birth (shown to save babies’ lives by Institute namesake Professor Sir Graham Liggins); unrecognised developmental and health problems in children born very preterm; and diet and gestational diabetes.

Two Liggins staff researchers also led expert sessions. Professor Jane Harding was recognised as a leading expert in neonatal hypoglycaemia – low blood sugar levels in newborns, a common condition that can cause brain damage in severe cases. She ran a “Meet the Expert” session on the topic, while senior lecturer Dr Chris McKinlay ran a practical skills session on the interpretation of medical statistics.

 

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Nicola Shepheard
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