Obstetrics and Gynaecology

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Projects Title Research Node (Project Site) Department Project Description Number of Places Available (Masters) Number of Places Available (Honours) Primary Supervisor UoM Staff ID Number Primary Supervisor Title Primary Supervisor First Name Primary Supervisor Surname Primary Supervisor Email Co-Supervisor 1 Title Co-Supervisor 1 First Name Co-Supervisor 1 Surname Co-Supervisor 2 Title Co-Supervisor 2 First Name Co-Supervisor 2 Surname Co-Supervisor 3 Title Co-Supervisor 3 First Name Co-Supervisor 3 Surname Additional Supervisors (Please include the title and full name) Opportunity
Abnormal Placental Stem Cells And Their Role In Human Pregnancy Pathologies Obstetrics and Gynaecology This project will explore the molecular mechanisms by which extracellular vesicles derived from normal and pathological placental mesenchymal stem cells, modulate endothelial cell function. Dr Bill Kalionis kalionis@unimelb.edu.au Dr Maria Kokkinos n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Application of computational biology approaches to identify and develop biomarkers to predict pregnancy disorders and guide clinical practice. Royal Women’s Hospital Obstetrics and Gynaecology Pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia, fetal growth restriction and pre-term birth affect up to 10% of all pregnancies. This project will apply bioinformatics tools to develop biomarkers which may identify which women will develop preeclampsia leading to a predictive test for preeclampsia and personalised treatment options. Professor Eva Dimitriadis eva.dimitriadis@unimelb.edu.au A/Professor Kim-Anh Le Cao Dr Ellen Menkhorst n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Defining the role of embryo implantation failure in infertility and IVF success. Royal Women’s Hospital Obstetrics and Gynaecology Infertility affects 1:6 couples worldwide. Professor Eva Dimitriadis eva.dimitriadis@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Post Doctor Researchers
Developing epigenetic biomarkers to predict pregnancy disorders and guide clinical practice. Royal Women’s Hospital Obstetrics and Gynaecology Pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia, fetal growth restriction and pre-term birth affect up to 10% of all pregnancies. There is strong evidence that these complications are caused by abnormal placental development the during the 1st trimester, long before symptoms develop. Preeclampsia is a severe multi system disorder whereby the mother develops hypertension and proteinuria before 20 weeks of pregnancy. By this time, the placenta is damaged and releases factors into the mother’s blood leading to widespread endothelial cell damage and the symptoms of preeclampsia. Women can develop early onset, late onset and term preeclampsia, all of which can have severe consequences for both mother and baby not just during pregnancy but also later in life. Alarmingly there are no non-invasive tests that can predict all women who will develop preeclampsia and few treatment options. This project will use an experimental and bioinformatics approach to identify which women may develop preeclampsia and use primary human and organoid models to determine the functional significance of predictive biomarkers of disease. This may lead to developing a predictive test for preeclampsia and much needed personalised treatment options. 2 2 Prof Eva Dimitriadis eva.dimitriadis@unimelb.edu.au Dr Ellen Menkhorst Dr Wei Zhou n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Honours students; Master of Biomedical Science
Exploring the effects of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination on diversity of circulating genotypes Royal Women’s Hospital Obstetrics and Gynaecology Human papillomavirus (HPV) infects 80% of sexually active people at least once in their lives. The virus causes several types of cancer in humans, including cervical cancer which causes over 570,000 new cases and 311,000 deaths annually, worldwide. HPV vaccination was introduced in 2007 and has led to dramatic reduction in circulating infections and related disease among vaccine eligible populations Our research group, located at the Royal Women’s Hospital, leads a number of HPV projects including 1) epidemiological studies of HPV vaccine impact and evaluation, 2) development of analytically sensitive diagnostic tests, 3) identification of new biomarkers for disease progression, and 4) understanding of molecular mechanisms of HPV-associated cancer. The prospective student will use a combination of molecular biology (nucleic acid extraction, conventional PCR, real time PCR, digital PCR, gene cloning, and sequencing) and epidemiological techniques to explore the effects of HPV vaccination on viral genotypes circulating in Australia using a unique clinical sample library collected pre- and post-HPV vaccination over the past 15 years. 1 1 Dr Reza Haqshenas reza.haqshenas@unimelb.edu.au Dr Gerald Murray Dr Dorothy Machalek n/a Masters by Research; Honours students
Fertility decision tools for young women with breast cancer Royal Women’s Hospital Obstetrics and Gynaecology “As hard as the cancer treatment was, losing my fertility was the hardest thing” Dr Michelle Peate mpeate@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Fertility preservation in children with cancer Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Obstetrics and Gynaecology One in 900 children is a cancer survivor. Cancer treatment can significantly affect future fertility. Dr Yasmin Jayasinghe yasmin.jayasinghe@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Functional role of VEZT over expression in endometrium Royal Women’s Hospital Obstetrics and Gynaecology VEZT is the first protein coding gene that can be directly linked to increased susceptibility for endometriosis. At a population level, SNPs associated with an increased risk for endometriosis are also associated with increased VEZT expression in the endometrium. To date, it is unclear what functional role VEZT has in the development or progression of endometriosis. To generate new knowledge about VEZT and endometriosis, we have developed a novel mouse model that conditionally over-expresses VEZT ubiquitously including the reproductive system. Our primary aim is to characterise the impact increased expression VEZT has on fertility as well as endometrial lesion formation. This project will include working with an animal model of endometriosis, protein and molecular studies. 1 1 Dr Jacqueline Donoghue jacqueline.donoghue@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Honours students; Master of Biomedical Science
Identification of biomarkers for diagnosis and prognosis human papillomavirus associated cancer Royal Women’s Hospital Obstetrics and Gynaecology Infection with human papillomavirus (HPV) can cause a number of cancers, including cervical and anal cancer. The mechanisms by which an HPV infection progresses to cancer remain to be fully understood. Our research group, located at the Royal Women’s Hospital, leads a number of HPV projects on the epidemiology and molecular biology of HPV-related disease. The project on offer will involve the analysis of lesion biopsies to learn more about the development of cancer and identify new molecular targets for diagnosis. The candidate will perform techniques including the novel application of a powerful sample preparation method, laser cut microdissection, as well as molecular methods including PCR, sequencing, and methylation analysis. 1 1 DR Gerald Murray gerald.murray@unimelb.edu.au Dr Monica Molano Dr Dorothy Machalek n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Honours students
Improving women’s knowledge of modifiable cardiovascular risk factors following the diagnosis of a hypertensive disorder of pregnancy. Austin Health Obstetrics and Gynaecology Women diagnosed with gestational hypertension or pre-eclampsia have double the risk of developing cardiovascular dysfunction over the ensuing 15-year period. This presents an excellent public health and preventative care opportunity for maternity and primary care providers to deliver targeted education to a high-risk population relating to modifiable risk factors for disease prevention, and the need for ongoing screening for cardiovascular disease following a hypertensive diagnosis during a pregnancy. It has been identified that the future implications of a diagnosis of gestational hypertension or pre-eclampsia are not well communicated to women. Out of Australia’s 20 major maternity hospitals, 19 of them do not currently publish patient information outlining the increased health risks for this cohort of women. Therefore, a need exists to fill this gap in the health education of this high-risk cardiovascular cohort. 1 Dr Anthea Lindquist anthea.lindquist@unimelb.edu.au Dr Roxanne Hastie Dr Stephanie Potenza n/a Master of Biomedical Science
Infertility in women and embryo implantation failure: identifying mechanistic insights using new genetic human technologies Royal Women’s Hospital Obstetrics and Gynaecology Embryo implantation failure is a significant bottleneck for IVF treatment and a major reason for infertility in women. Currently there are no treatments for implantation failure. Embryo implantation requires an adequately endometrium to allow embryos to firmly adhere to initiate and establish pregnancy. There is no non-invasive method established to diagnose a receptive endometrium before embryo transfer. Human endometrial organoids have recently been established and pilot studies demonstrate that organoids recapitulate the histological phenotype of the tissue they are isolated from (for instance endometrial cancer). We have established a 3D human endometrial organoid culture system and will use these to investigate why women may be infertile. Identification of the mechanisms why women are infertile which is the first step to developing treatments for implantation failure and resultant infertility. 2 2 Prof Eva Dimitriadis eva.dimitriadis@unimelb.edu.au Dr Wei Zhou Dr Ellen Menkhorst n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Honours students; Master of Biomedical Science
Inflammatory mediators in the development of preeclampsia and pre-term birth. Royal Women’s Hospital Obstetrics and Gynaecology Preeclampsia, pre-term birth and still birth are severe conditions affecting 10-15% of pregnancies worldwide. There are no treatments. This project will identify how these diseases develop and may lead to the development of new therapeutic targets. Professor Eva Dimitriadis eva.dimitriadis@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Post Doctor Researchers
Investigating the basis of antibiotic resistance in Mycoplasma genitalium Royal Women’s Hospital Obstetrics and Gynaecology The project will use molecular methods including Sanger sequencing, quantitative PCR, and digital PCR, in combination with bacterial culture, to investigate the mutations that contribute to antibiotic resistance, and how these mutations arise. Dr Gerald Murray gerald.murray@mcri.edu.au Professor Suzanne Garland n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Most Bothersome Symptom: a new research outcome in women with endometriosis Royal Women’s Hospital Obstetrics and Gynaecology Most Bothersome symptom has been selected as an outcome to be measured in all future trials of interventions for endometriosis. As this outcome has not been measured in this population before, we need to undertake research to understand this outcome and use this to develop, test and validate a new tool for measuring Most Bothersome Symptom in women with endometriosis. Prof Martha Hickey hickeym@unimelb.edu.au Dr Sarah Lensen n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Regulation of Placental Growth Factor in pregnancy complications Austin Health Obstetrics and Gynaecology Placental growth factor (PlGF) is a protein produced by the placenta during pregnancy that is critical to normal placental development. We know that it is reduced in pregnancies complicated by preeclampsia or fetal growth restriction. This project will focus on studying whether a signalling pathway, the JAK/STAT pathway, regulates PlGF in human placenta, and possibly identifying therapeutics that inhibit its expression/activation. 1 Dr Fiona Brownfoot fiona.brownfoot@gmail.com A/Prof Tu'uhevaha Kaitu'u-Lino n/a PhD students; Honours students
Relationship between the microbiome and female infertility. Royal Melbourne Hospital Obstetrics and Gynaecology Recent studies have identified the endometrial microbiome however little is known how it affects the endometrium and whether it is associated with infertility. Professor Eva Dimitriadis eva.dimitriadis@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Post Doctor Researchers
Reverse translation to better understand fetal growth restriction Royal Melbourne Hospital Obstetrics and Gynaecology This project will involve laboratory studies on novel proteins we have identified as deranged in the circulation of women carrying a small baby. Associate Professor Tu'uhevaha Kaitu'u-Lino t.klino@unimelb.edu.au Associate Professor Natalie Hannan Professor Stephen Tong n/a PhD students
Studying novel proteins in preeclampsia Royal Melbourne Hospital Obstetrics and Gynaecology This project will involve laboratory studies of novel placental proteins that we have identified may play a role in the pathogenesis of preeclampsia. Associate Professor Tu'uhevaha Kaitu'u-Lino t.klino@unimelb.edu.au Associate Professor Natalie Hannan Professor Stephen Tong n/a PhD students; Honours students
Testing therapeutics for infertility in organoid models Royal Melbourne Hospital Obstetrics and Gynaecology This project aims to recreate human organoid cultures of the endometrium to determine the cause and treatment of embryo implantation failure infertility. Professor Eva Dimitriadis eva.dimitriadis@unimelb.edu.au Dr Wei Zhou n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Post Doctor Researchers
The long term outcomes of children of pregnancies complicated by diabetes Austin Health Obstetrics and Gynaecology

This project opens February 2022.

Diabetes is common among the Australian population, including among pregnant women. While the short-term impacts of diabetes during pregnancy on an unborn baby have been investigated, we still do not know the longer-term impact on these babies including brain development and educational outcomes. A better understanding of the long-term impact of a mother having diabetes during pregnancy may help target care to women with diabetes during pregnancy and provide support and early intervention after birth.
1 Dr Anthea Lindquist anthea.lindquist@unimelb.edu.au Dr Roxanne Hastie Ms Anna Middleton n/a Master of Biomedical Science
The prognosisdiagnosis of common pregnancy complications utilising genetic material found in extracellular vesicles derived from maternal blood and urine. Royal Women’s Hospital Obstetrics and Gynaecology The ultimate objective of this research is to develop a test for the early detection of common pregnancy disorders. Dr Bill Kalionis kalionis@unimelb.edu.au Assoc Prof Harry Georgiou Dr Maria Kokkinos n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Understanding the burden and consequences of Mycoplasma genitalium infection Royal Women’s Hospital Obstetrics and Gynaecology Mycoplasma genitalium (MG) is an emerging pathogen and a suspected cause of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) that is proving difficult to control due to high levels of antibiotic resistance. This project will use epidemiological methods to generate new evidence on the risk of PID among women with MG infection and establish a surveillance system for monitoring MG resistance patterns. Dr Dorothy Machalek dorothy.machalek@thewomens.org.au A/Prof Catriona Bradshaw Dr Gerald Murray n/a PhD students
Use of a respiratory function monitor to improve training efficiency in neonatal face mask ventilation Royal Women’s Hospital Obstetrics and Gynaecology Face-mask ventilation is the most frequent and important intervention clinicians provide in newborn resuscitation. This skill is difficult to master, mainly due to inadvertent mask leak. This randomised control trial will analyse the benefit of using a Respiratory Function Monitor (RFM), which provides feedback on mask leak and tidal volume, to improve clinicians’ self-learning efficiency in face-mask ventilation. 2 Dr MD PhD Marta Thio marta.thiolluch@thewomens.org.au Dr Kate Hodgson n/a Honours students
WomenCAN: Promoting and advancing women’s health and wellbeing after cancer Royal Women’s Hospital Obstetrics and Gynaecology The impact of cancer goes beyond just the treatment phase. Dr Michelle Peate mpeate@unimelb.edu.au Prof Martha Hickey n/a PhD students; Masters by Research