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Speakers

DR DOUG BLANK

Doug is a neonatologist, currently working at Monash and with PIPER, who came to Melbourne in 2014 to pursue a PhD after completing a clinical NICU fellowship in California. He had previously been re-educated as a fellow and locum consultant while conducting resuscitation research at the RWH. Outside of work, he enjoys exploring Melbourne’s wonderful playgrounds with his sons, ages 6, 4, and 2.

DR ALICE BURNETT

Alice is a clinical neuropsychologist and research fellow specialising in the enduring impacts of early biological events like preterm birth on later cognitive, brain, and behavioural development. Alice is a postdoctoral researcher and knowledge translation fellow in the Centre for Research Excellence in Newborn Medicine based at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and a clinical neuropsychologist at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne.

PROFESSOR DAVID BURGNER

David is a paediatric infectious diseases   physician at the Royal Children’s Hospital and an NHMRC Senior Research Fellow at Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. He trained in paediatrics in the UK and Australia and did his PhD on genetic susceptibility to severe infection at Oxford University and at the Medical Research Council unit in The Gambia, West Africa. His current research and clinical interests include differential susceptibility to neonatal and childhood infection and the early infectious and inflammatory influences on the risk of later non-communicable diseases. He is involved in several national and international projects. These include data linkage studies of early life determinants of infection, the Barwon Infant Study, The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children’s Child Health CheckPoint, and Generation Victoria.

ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR JEANIE CHEONG

Jeanie is a Neonatal Paediatrician at the  Royal Women’s Hospital, Melbourne, with expertise in neonatal neurology, neuroimaging and long term follow up of high risk newborns. She is the Convenor of the Victorian Infant Collaborative Study group, a world leading research program of long term outcomes of extremely preterm or extremely low birthweight newborns born in Victoria. She is also the medical/neurological Team Leader of the Victorian Infant Brain Studies group, which focuses on brain development and developmental outcomes of high risk newborns. She will lead the NHMRC-funded CRE in Newborn Medicine from 2019, taking over the successful program led by Professor Lex Doyle over the last 10 years.

PROFESSOR PETER DAVIS

Peter joined the Women’s as a consultant neonatologist in 1993. He trained in Brisbane and McMaster University, Canada where he developed an interest in Clinical Epidemiology and Evidence Based Medicine. He continues to work clinically in Neonatal Intensive and Special Care Nurseries and remains involved in undergraduate and postgraduate education at the Women’s. He became Professor/Director of Neonatal Medicine in 2009. His team at the Women’s comprises young nurses and doctors, many of whom undertake higher degrees through which they investigate ways to improve outcomes of preterm and very unwell newborn babies.

PROFESSOR LEX DOYLE

Lex is a neonatal paediatrician with a major research interest in evaluating the consequences of neonatal intensive care, including how to improve on that care, and its economic consequences. He has been a chief investigator on numerous randomised controlled trials of interventions before and after birth designed to improve the outcome for the highest-risk babies, including the tiniest and most immature babies. He is active with several research groups interested in the outcome for tiny babies well beyond the nursery and into adulthood; these are the Premature Infant Follow-up Program at the Royal Women’s Hospital, the Victorian Infant Collaborative Study (VICS) Group, and the Victoria Infant Brain Studies (VIBeS) Group.

PROFESSOR STUART HOOPER

Stuart is an NHMRC Principal Research Fellow and Director of the Ritchie Centre at the Hudson Institute of Medical Research and Monash University. He is a fetal and neonatal physiologist whose research focuses on fetal and neonatal lung development and its transformation into a functional gas-exchange organ at birth. Specifically, his research focuses on: » factors regulating normal and abnormal growth of the lung, » the cardiovascular and respiratory transition at birth and » how assisted ventilation of very preterm infants can be improved to avoid injury to the lungs and brain. Stuart also leads a multi-disciplinary research team that has pioneered the use of phase-contrast X-ray imaging to image the entry of air into the lungs at birth.

DR BRETT MANLEY

Brett is a consultant neonatologist at The Royal Women’s Hospital and a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at The University of Melbourne. For his PhD, Brett studied the use of nasal high-flow as post-extubation respiratory support for very preterm infants. Supported by an NHMRC Early Career Fellowship, and now an MRFF Career Development Fellowship, he has gone on to lead or supervise randomised trials of respiratory support in NICUs and non-tertiary centres. He is currently co-Principal Investigator of the international, multicentre PLUSS trial of intra-tracheal budesonide mixed with surfactant to reduce BPD in extremely preterm infants.

DR CHRIS MCKINLAY

Chris is a neonatologist at Kidz First, Children’s Hospital, Auckland, New Zealand and Senior Lecturer at the Liggins Institute, University of Auckland. He trained in Auckland and Melbourne, and was awarded a PhD in 2012 for studies relating to the late effects of antenatal corticosteroids. His research focuses on early life interventions for improving long-term metabolic, neurodevelopmental and respiratory health outcomes.

DR EOIN O’CURRAIN

Eoin trained in Dublin, Ireland and Melbourne and is a Neonatal Paediatrician at the Royal Women’s Hospital. His research interests include improving the training of newborn resuscitation, particularly in small and medium sized hospitals. He is undertaking a PhD with the Newborn Research Centre investigating the teaching, monitoring and delivery of newborn mask ventilation.N

ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR GRAEME POLGLASE 

Graeme is a perinatal physiologist, NHMRC career development fellow and Head of the Perinatal Transition Research Group based at The Ritchie Centre, Hudson Institute of Medical Research and Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Monash University. Dr Polglase is working to improve respiratory, cardiovascular, and neurological outcomes of infants born preterm; the single greatest cause of neonatal morbidity and mortality. His findings continue to expand our understanding of how key events during fetal development, birth, and post-delivery influence lung, heart and brain inflammation and injury, with a vision to improve immediate and long-term outcomes of infants born preterm.

DR TRISHA PRENTICE

Trisha is a consultant neonatologist and serves on the clinical ethics committee at the Royal Children’s Hospital. She was the inaugural William Kitchen Research Fellow at The Royal Women’s Hospital. She has completed a Masters in Bioethics at Monash University and is currently undertaking a PhD examining the Moral Distress of healthcare professionals caring for Extremely Low Gestational Age Neonates within neonatal intensive care units. She has a special interest in the subjective factors that influence end-of-life decision-making.

PROFESSOR NIKKI ROBERTSON

Nikki is Professor of Perinatal Neuroscience at University College London (UCL) and Honorary Consultant Neonatologist at University College London Hospital. Nikki spent 4 years in Melbourne during her early neonatal training before completing her PhD at Imperial College London in 2002. Over the last 15 years at UCL, Nikki has been investigating new ways to protect the brain using a model of neonatal encephalopathy (NE) with agents such as melatonin, argon, post-conditioning and stem cells. Nikki’s work is targeted to both low and highincome settings. The aim is to develop a balanced therapy of compatible and complementary treatments with maximal safety and efficacy for babies with NE. Nikki has focused on cerebral magnetic resonance spectroscopy as an early marker of brain injury in both her pre-clinical and clinical studies. Nikki has published >180 peer reviewed papers and leads a successful translational research team. Currently Nikki is in Doha, Qatar, helping to set up the neonatal neurocritical care service in a new children’s hospital – Sidra Medicine.

CLINICAL ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR TOBIAS STRUNK

Tobias is an early career researcher who was awarded his PhD on ‘Innate immune responses of preterm infants to Coagulase-negative staphylococci’ by the University of Western Australia in 2012. He completed specialist training in Neonatal/ Perinatal Medicine in Australia in early 2012 and since then has been a full-time consultant neonatologist in the NICU at King Edward Memorial and Princess Margaret Hospitals (125 beds). His research interest is the immunological determinants of newborn susceptibility to invasive bacterial infection and novel prophylactic and therapeutic interventions to reduce disease burden, areas highly relevant to the current proposal. Dr Strunk demonstrates a strong early track record of productive and internationally recognised research relative to opportunity.

PROFESSOR KAREN SIMMER AO

Gehan is a developmental-behavioural paediatrician and holds appointments with The Royal Children’s Hospital, Centre for Community Child Health, the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, and the University of Melbourne. Karen is the Professor of Newborn Medicine at the University of Western Australia and Co-Director of the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence for preterm infants. She is a neonatal paediatrician and Director of the NICUs at King Edward and Perth Children’s Hospitals. She established the first Human Milk Bank in Australia. She leads the NHMRC PROTECT study – an international RCT aimed to reduce inflammatory brain damage in extremely preterm infants with late-onset sepsis or NEC. Prof Simmer has qualifications from Sydney, London and Harvard Universities. She was made an Officer in the Order of Australia for her commitment to paediatrics as an academic, researcher and clinician. Prof Simmer was recently elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Science.

PROFESSOR SUE WALKER AO

Sue is Director of Perinatal Medicine at Mercy Hospital for Women, and is the Sheila Handbury Chair of Maternal Fetal Medicine, University of Melbourne. She is lead of the Women’s and Newborn Health theme, Melbourne Academic Centre for Health, and Clinical Director of the Victorian Fetal Therapy Service, a 3 centre collaboration responsible for fetal surgical services in the state of Victoria. Her research interests include disorders of fetal growth, stillbirth prevention, pre-eclampsia, and the impact of sleep disordered breathing on obstetric outcomes.

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