A Pharmacogenomics study of the teratogenicity valproate based on the prospective Australian Register for Anti-epileptic Drugs in Pregnancy

Research Opportunity
PhD students, Masters by Research, Honours students, Post Doctor Researchers
Number of Honour Places Available
Number of Master Places Available
Department / Centre
Medicine and Radiology
Royal Melbourne Hospital
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Professor Terence O'Brien obrientj@unimelb.edu.au 9903 0855 Personal web page
Co-supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr Charles Malpas charles.malpas@unimelb.edu.au Personal web page
Professor Piero Perucca Piero.Perucca@mh.org.au

Summary Project Aims: Identify genetic markers that predict the risk of valproate-induced birth defects.

Project Details

It is recognised that women with epilepsy who become pregnant while taking an anti-epileptic drug (AED) have an increased risk of having a foetus or infant with a birth defect (BD). This is particularly high for valproate. Despite the increased risk associated with taking AED in pregnancy, most women with epilepsy who become pregnant, or plan to do so soon, cannot simply cease the drugs because of the risk to the health and safety of the mother and child of uncontrolled seizures. The development of methods that would allow the prediction that a specific drug would be associated with a higher risk of a birth defect in a particular woman would be of great potential benefit. There is evidence from family and twin studies that genetic factors may play a role in determining predisposing an individual to having a child with an AED associated birth defect. Clinical research utilizes a cohort of >2000 pregnant women enrolled in the Australian Pregnancy Register of Antiepileptic Drugs. This is a prospective, voluntary, telephone interview based study that enrols pregnant women with epilepsy, prior to the outcome of the pregnancy being known, and follows the outcomes of their pregnancies and relates this to genomic information. Basic research investigates the effects of antenatal exposure to valproate on brain gene expression changes in babies in an animal model of epilepsy.

Faculty Research Themes


Research Opportunities

PhD students, Masters by Research, Honours students, Post Doctor Researchers
Students who are interested in joining this project will need to consider their elegibility as well as other requirements before contacting the supervisor of this research

Graduate Research application

Honours application

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.

Department / Centre

Medicine and Radiology

Research Group / Unit / Centre

Research Node

Royal Melbourne Hospital

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