Martha Hickey

Director, Women's Gynaecology Research Centre

Professor Martha Hickey BA (Hons); MSc (Clin Psych); MBChB, FRANZCOG, MD

Martha Hickey is Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Melbourne (since Feb 2010) and Adjunct Professor of Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Reproductive Sciences at Yale University, CT. She is in active clinical practice with a research expertise in menstrual disorders and menopause.

Background

Professor Hickey initially graduated in Psychology in 1981 and worked as a clinical psychologist from 1981-83. She spent 1983-4 in India as a Rotary Postgraduate Scholar, commenced medical training in 1984 on a scholarship from the University of Bristol and qualified in 1990. In 1994 Professor Hickey was awarded Membership of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. From 1994-6 she completed two years of research (awarded Doctor of Medicine in 1996) with Professor Ian Fraser at the University of Sydney. In 2001 Professor Hickey completed the clinical academic training program at Imperial College School of Medicine, rated the 9th best university in the world (www3.imperial.ac.uk). She returned to Australia in 2002 and was awarded permanent residency as an “exceptional overseas talent”.

When Professor Hickey commenced at the University Of Western Australia (UWA) in 2001, there was no active research in gynaecology. Within the first year of appointment she had established a burgeoning new research group and been awarded funding from both the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and the National Institutes of Health, (NIH/NICHD) USA. Since 2002 Professor Hickey  has been a chief investigator on successful competitive grants totalling more than $5 million. She has  raised a further $1 million in funding from pharmaceutical companies. In 2006 she was awarded a Clinical Career Development Award by the NHMRC. Professor Hickey continues in active clinical service as a consultant gynaecologist at The Royal Women’s Hospital and her research in reproductive endocrinology continues to grow in the following areas:

Abnormal uterine bleeding

Professor Hickey's research in the mechanisms of abnormal vaginal bleeding with has given her an international reputation in this field and lead to her appointment in 2003 as a research consultant to several prestigious organisations including the World Health Organisation (WHO), the National Institutes of Health and the World Bank. As a member of the WHO Special Program of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction Professor Hickey regularly reviews funding applications and attends meetings in Geneva. This appointment has recently been extended for three years.

Menopause

Professor Hickey currently runs one of the largest and most effective menopause services in Australia. The clinic sees over 1000 new patients per year. In 2002 she  established the first Multidisciplinary clinic for women with Menopausal Symptoms after Cancer (MSAC) in WA and has now established this service in Victoria. This clinic has attracted widespread national and international interest and similar models are being explored in NSW. This is both a clinical and research resource and brings together oncologists, breast surgeons, psychologists and other relevant health personnel. A new rural service is now established. Professor Hickey is one of the few gynaecologists to be funded by breast cancer organizations in Australia. She plays an increasing national role in liaising between the gynaceology and breast cancer communities offering expert and consumer advice on key issues around survivorship including menopause and fertility after breast cancer.

The clinic is actively involved in new research initiatives to develop new non-hormonal treatments for menopausal symptoms and Professor Hickey is regularly invited to present these data nationally and internationally.

Professor Hickey sits on council for the Australasian Menopause Society (AMS), and from 2006 chaired their Education Committee. In 2004 she organised and chaired the annual meeting and chair the Scientific committee for the 2009 annual meeting in Canberra.
Since 2002 Professor Hickey has been an Editor of the international menopause journal, Maturitas.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

In WA , Professor Hickey established the reproductive endocrinology service to encompass assessment and management of common endocrine disorders including PCOS, recurrent miscarriage and secondary amenorrhoea.

She has recently completed an NHMRC funded study of the fetal and childhood origins of PCOS using the WA Raine cohort.

Teenage Pregnancy

In collaboration with paediatric and public health colleagues and funded by NHMRC and “Healthways” - an exploration of the antecedents of teenage pregnancy, effective contraception in adolescents and decision-making around termination of pregnancy.

The establishment of a prospective study of early childhood factors predicting risky sexual behaviour in adolescence using a birth cohort. This will be the first study of its kind internationally.

Other
  • Professor Hickey has established several new and productive international collaborations with prestigious overseas universities including Edinburgh University, Yale University and Imperial College School of Medicine. She is  Adjunct Professor in OBGYN at Yale University, USA following a highly successful sabbatical term. This has lead to collaborative NIH funding and ongoing joint publications.
  • She has a strong commitment to evidence based medicine. In 2002 she was elected editor of one of the largest and most productive Cochrane groups (Menstrual Disorders and Subfertility Group). She has contributed to many systematic reviews and is active in editing reviews and promoting evidence-based clinical practice in my workplace and in the development of national and international guidelines.
  • Professor Hickey plays an active clinical leadership role in gynaecology and believes that involvement and leadership in clinical service improves both the quality and relevance of my research and teaching. She also actively supports women in specialist OBGYN training. Professor Hickey has a young family of three children (twin boys aged 9 years and a daughter aged 11) as is acutely aware of the issues for parents trying to balance work and family life and play an active role in mentoring women who wish to combine an academic career with parenting.


 

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