Clinical and Population Perinatal Health Research

Head of Laboratory

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Overview of research program

Clinical and Population Perinatal Health Research (CPPHR) aims to inform, evaluate and improve health policy and service delivery for mothers and children, with the overall goal of ensuring a healthy start to life.

Our research activities focus on:

Improving the quality and safety of, and access to, healthcare for mothers and children

We undertake research to inform, and evaluate compliance with, health policies relevant to maternal and child health, as well as research about specific aspects of care that carry high risk and/or high cost, for example, maternal/infant transfers, obstetric interventions, and use of blood products.

Ensuring a healthy start to life for all newborns

Our research activities include identifying maternal and newborn factors that might predict those children at increased risk for adverse health and educational outcomes, particularly factors that are preventable or amenable to change.

Understanding the drivers of maternal and newborn health outcomes

We have undertaken a large number of studies to better understand changes in maternal and newborn outcomes over time, predictors of those changes, and impacts on service delivery.

Fundamental to our work is a commitment to improve the availability of health and health services information for policy, planning, healthcare and consumers. Our research team has developed unique expertise in interrogating large and linked population health data sets to address key issues in perinatal health.

Our research strengths also include co-location with a tertiary maternity hospital, a state pregnancy screening laboratory and research laboratories of the Kolling Institute of Medical Research; involvement in international clinical trials and international data linkage networks; and strong links with state- and nationally-appointed clinicians and policy makers that facilitate research translation.

CPPHR currently comprises around 25 researchers and students conducting clinical, population health and health services research. We have a strong commitment to building capacity in population health research. Our senior researchers regularly supervise research students and NSW Health Biostatstics Trainees.

We are structured into four main areas: maternal health, child health, research translation, and clinical trials. Two committees support CPPHR’s management and operations:

  • the Management Committee ensures the efficient and effective management of the CPPHR, including financial and human resource management, annual business planning and day-to-day operations. The Committee comprises the senior members of the CPPHR and the Executive Officer (secretariat)
  • the Research Advisory Committee (RAC) provides strategic advice and oversight to the CPPHR on research priorities, research translation to policy and healthcare delivery, and overall academic performance. The RAG is chaired by Dr Michael Nicholl, and includes representation from NSW Health, healthcare delivery and academic research.

Perinatal Health Research organisation chart (Click here to open in new tab.)

Major funding sources

Senior Research Fellow
Ford J
ARC Futures Fellowship ($561,143 over 4 years)

Postdoctoral Fellow
Lain S
NHMRC Career Awards: Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, part-time ($160,000 over 4 years)

PhD student
Ampt M
Dr Albert S McKern Research Scholarship

Infant thyroid hormone levels and long-term child educational outcomes
Nassar N, Roberts CL, Wilcken B, Martin A, Jack M, Wiley V, Algert CS.
National Health and Medical Research Council Project Grant ($476,257 over 3 years)

Prenatal origins and health outcomes of male reproductive congenital anomalies diagnosed at birth and testicular cancer in adulthood
Nassar N, Milne E, Pereira G.
National Health and Medical Research Council Project Grant ($226,943 over 3 years)

Senior Research Fellowship B
Roberts CL
NHMRC Career Awards: Research Fellowship ($641,855 over 5 years)

Evaluating appropriate use of blood products in mothers and babies
Ford J, Roberts CL, Irving D, Harrison B, Morris J, Bowen J, Isbister J, Capper H.
National Health and Medical Research Council Partnership Project ($379,604 over 3 years)

A population-based record linkage study of the impact of chlamydia infection on reproductive health in women
Liu B, Jorm D, Preen J, Hocking B, Donovan B, Roberts CL, Ward J, Mak D.
National Health and Medical Research Council Project Grant ($392,260 over 3 years)

Assessing the reporting of stillbirths in population data: trends and recurrence
Roberts CL, Lain S, ford JB, Todd A, Morris JM.
Stillbirth Foundation Grant ($65,000 1 year)

Senior Research Fellow
Nassar N
NHMRC Career Awards: Career Development Fellowship ($377,000 over 4 years)

Population health at the clinical interface: pregnancy and childbirth
Roberts CL, Ford J, Haines M, Simpson J, Ashton A, Taylor L, Morris J, Ellwood D.
National Health and Medical Research Council Centre for Research Excellence Grant ($2,456,365 over 5 years)

Immediate delivery vs expectant care in women with pre-term prelabour rupture of the membranes close to term- a randomised clinical trial (PPROMT)
Morris J, Roberts CL, Ford J, Bowen J, Buchanan S, Lain S.
National Health and Medical Research Council Project Grant ($832,930 over 3 years)

Prospective study of birth defects from fetotoxic agents in the public water supply
Nassar N.
National Health and Medical Research Council Project Grant ($703,124 over 4 years)

Immediate delivery vs expectant care in women with preterm labour rupture of the membranes close to term
Morris J, Roberts CL, Crowther C, Ford J, Bowen J, Ford JB, Lain S.
University of Sydney Bridging Support Grant, 2010 $50,000

Building evidence to improve the quality and acceptability of maternity care
Morris J, Roberts CL, Ford JB, Taylor L, Raynes-Greenow C, Giles W, Bowen J, Algert C.
National Health and Medical Research Council Partnership Grant ($684,000 over 3 years)

Treatment of asymptomatic candidiasis in pregnant women for the prevention of preterm birth: a randomised trial
Giles W, Roberts CL, Simpson J, Kotsiou G, Bowen J, Hirst J.
National Health and Medical Research Council Project Grant ($1,070,125 over 3 years)

Evaluation of novel antenatal biomarkers for the detection of adverse pregnancy outcomes: a record linkage study
Roberts CL, Nassar N, Ashton A, Tasevski V, Lain S, Algert CS.
National Health and Medical Research Council Project Grant ($562,000 over 3 years)

OSPREY: Building capacity for research to improve health services for mothers, babies and children
Jorm L, Roberts CL, Preen D, Simpson J, Moorin R, Haines M, Bambrick H, Holman C.
National Health and Medical Research Council Capacity Building Grant in Population Health Research ($835,901 over 5 years)

Acute triggers for preeclampsia
Ford JB, Roberts CL, Herbert RD, Morris JM, Raynes-Greenow CH, Algert CS.
National Health and Medical Research Council Project Grant ($199, 500 over 3 years)

Selected publications

  • Roberts CL, Algert CS, Ford JB, Todd AL, Morris JM. Pathways to a rising caesarean section rate: a population-based cohort study. BMJ Open 2012; 2:e001725. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-001725
  • Morris JM, Algert CS, Falster MO, Ford JB, Kinnear A, Nicholl MC, Roberts CL. Trends in planned early birth: a population-based study, Am J Obstet Gynecol 2012;207:186.e1-8. doi:10.1016/j.ajog.2012.06.082
  • Lee Y, Roberts C, Dobbins T, Stavrou E, Black K, Morris J, Young J. Incidence and outcomes of pregnancy-associated cancer in Australia, 1994–2008: a population-based linkage study. BJOG 2012;119:1572–1582. DOI: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2012.03475.x
  • Ford JB, Algert CS, Morris JM, Roberts CL. Decreasing length of maternal hospital stay is not associated with increased readmission rates Aust NZ J Pub Health 2012;36(5):430-4. DOI: 10.1111/j.1753-6405.2012.00882.x
  • Algert CS, Bowen JR, Lain SJ, Allen H, Vivian-Taylor JM, Roberts CL. Pregnancy exposure and risk of childhood asthma admission in a population birth cohort. Pediatric Allergy and Immunology 2011; 22(8):836-842. DOI:10.1111/j.1399-3038.2011.01206.x
  • Roberts CL, Ford JB, Algert CS, Antonsen S, Chalmers J, Cnattingius S, Gokhale M, Kotelchuck M, Melve KK, Langridge A, Morris C, Morris JM, Nassar N, Norman JE, Norrie J, Sørensen HT, Walker R, Weir CJ. Population-based trends in pregnancy hypertension and preeclampsia: An international comparative study. BMJ Open 2011;1:e000101 doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2011-000101
  • Algert CS, McElduff A, Morris JM, Roberts CL. Perinatal risk factors for onset of Type 1 Diabetes in a 2000-2005 birth cohort. Diab Med 2009;26,1193–1197 DOI: 10.1111/ j.1464-5491.2009.02878.x
  • Roberts CL, Ford JB, Algert CS, Bell JC, Simpson JM, Morris, JM. Trends in adverse maternal outcomes during childbirth: a population-based study of severe maternal morbidity. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2009;9:7
  • Lain SJ, Ford JB, Raynes-Greenow CH, Hadfield RH, Simpson JM, Morris JM, Roberts CL. The impact of the Baby Bonus: who is having one for the country? Med J Aust 2009;190:238-241
  • Roberts CL, JC Bell, Ford JB, JM Morris. Monitoring the quality of maternity care – how well are labour and delivery events reported in population health data? Paed Perinatal Epidemiol 2009;23:144-152

Major collaborations

  • NSW Ministry of Health
  • NSW Kids and Families
  • Northern Sydney Local Health District
  • Central Coast Local Health District
  • NSW Centre for Health Record Linkage
  • The Sax Institute
  • University of Western Sydney
  • University of Western Australia
  • Pregnancy & Newborn Services Network
  • Sydney Children’s Hospital Network