Our Invited Speakers

A who's who of the very best minds leading research on the world stage in 2016...

Professor Anna David, University College London Hospitals

Professor David is a world authority in fetal gene therapy and the treatment of early onset genetic disease. She leads the Prenatal Cell and Gene Therapy Group at the Institute for Women’s Health at UCL. She is lead investigator for the EVERREST study, a major study that includes a clinical trial of maternal gene therapy to rescue preterm growth restriction.

Professor Horne is a highly eminent clinician-scientist and clinical trialist in the field of women's health. Working with Professor Tong they have pioneered a new way to effectively treat ectopic pregnancy. The team is now running the GEM trial, a phase III clinical trial (funded by a $2,000,000+ grant) that is currently running in 25-50 hospitals in the United Kingdom. He is also running another major NHS funded trial examining a new treatment for pelvic pain.

Is an internationally recognised expert in the field of biomarker research. She is highly expert in using proteomics (ie very fancy machines) to identify novel blood markers to predict pregnancy complications. She has also been part of large collaborations that are making exciting breakthroughs in the field of point of care diagnostics.

Professor Dekker (Lyell McEwin Hospital, University of Adelaide) is a world authority in preeclampsia, immunology of reproduction and thrombophilias. His PhD, on prediction and prevention of preeclampsia, included the first double-blind low dose Aspirin RCT in the early 1980’s. His research also led to the introduction of Nifedipine as the preferred tocolytic agent. He is one of the founders of the SCOPE study, a unique international biobanking collaboration that is generating important insights into the clinical and molecular predictors of major pregnancy complications. Together with Prof Claire Roberts, Gus is now running the STOP study (Screening Test to predict the Outcome of Pregnancy) in order to validate the predictive algorithms developed by the SCOPE study in an independent cohort.

Professor Keelan a pregnancy research scientist with an international reputation in the study of the pharmacological treatment of intra-amniotic infection/inflammation and nanoparticle-based drug delivery in pregnancy. Head of the Microbiome Consortium of WA (MiCWA), he leads several ongoing perinatal microbiome-related studies investigating the seeding of the fetal gut microbiome, the impact of probiotics & antibiotics on neonatal microbiota and immunity, and the relationship between vaginal microbiota, placental/intraamniotic infection and preterm birth.

Professor Ben Mol, University of Adelaide

A highly eminent clinical trialist, he has authored a large number of landmark papers that have shaped current obstetrics management. These include Hypitat (Induction or wait for hypertension at term), Digitat (Induction or wait for suspected SGA at term), PROBAAT, ESEP and many others. With >800 papers, he is one of the most published obstetricians in the planet.

Professor Newnham is a world authority on preterm birth. His large team of scientists and clinicians at the Women and Infants Research Foundation are examining ways to decrease the severe morbidity arising from infection-mediated preterm birth. He is also a international expert on the intriguing concept that chronic adult diseases have their origins in utero and is a lead researcher on the developmental origins of health and disease in The Raine Study cohort.

Professor Jane Norman, University of Edinburgh

Is a highly eminent clinician-scientist. She has led many of the major clinical trials that have shaped our specialty. She performs studies that straddle the laboratory to the clinic, and is tackling major pregnancy complications such as preterm birth and stillbirth. She is also the director of the famed Edinburgh Tommy’s Centre which conducts research that will directly impact on the health of pregnant women and their babies, and translates research into improved health outcomes. 

Professor Jonathan Morris (The Kolling Institute, University of Sydney)

An eminent clinician-scientist and director of The Kolling Institute, University of Sydney, his research spans the laboratory to large scale clinical trials. He has just completed a large multi-centre trial to assess whether it is best to leave, or induce women who rupture their membranes at 34 weeks' gestation (PPROMPT trial).

Associate Professor Craig Pennell, University of Western Australia

Is a clinician-scientist who is internationally recognised in the field of preterm birth. He has a major interest in molecular genetics: using microarray technology to identify DNA variations that puts people at greater risk of pregnancy complications (Genome Wide Association Studies, GWAS). His expertise in GWAS extends beyond pregnancy, into other major chronic diseases of human health. 

A/Prof Pennell is also a maternal fetal medicine specialist with other research interests:  fetal physiology and the prediction of fetal hypoxic-ischaemic brain injury. 

Laureate Professor Roger Smith, University of Newcastle

Laureate Professor Roger Smith AM has interests in the evolution of mammalian pregnancy, infections during pregnancy, preterm birth, Indigenous Health, maternal nutrition and the link between placental aging and stillbirth. This year he will discuss the marked changes that occur in aging-related pathways within the post-term placenta and similar changes that occur in placentas that are associated with stillbirth. The data is relevant to the clinical management of term pregnancy.

Dr Ryan Hodges, Monash University

Dr Hodges highly accomplished maternal fetal medicine specialist, whose research interests have been in novel fetal therapies and fetal surgery. He is also an accomplished fetal surgeon, having trained for many years at two of the world's most prestigious centres in the field of fetal surgery: Leuven, Belgium and Mt Sinai hospital in Toronto, Canada.

Professor Doyle is a neonatologist who has led international research in the area of neonatal intensive care and long term outcomes of prematurity for over three decades.  His current roles include Chief Investigator of the NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Newborn Medicine at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, deputy group leader of the Victorian Infant Collaborative Study, and senior member of the Victoria Infant Brain Studies (VIBeS) Group

Is a neonatal pediatrician with internationally recognised expertise in neonatal neurology, neuroimaging and the long term follow up of preterm babies. She is the lead clinician in the Growth and Development clinic at the Royal Women’s Hospital, Melbourne and is the medical/neurological Team Leader of the Victorian Infant Brain studies group within Murdoch Institute of Medical Research.

Dr Clare Whitehead, University of Melbourne

Is a clinician-scientist who pioneered a lot of the work examining the potential of measuring RNA molecules from the placenta to identify complicated pregnancies. Her novel studies have led to two large prospective studies that aim to develop a blood test to avert stillbirth before it happens.


Prof Anna David

Prof Andrew Horne

Dr Jenny Myers

Prof Gus Dekker

Prof Jeff Keelan


Prof Ben Mol

Prof John Newnham

Prof Jane Norman

A/Prof Craig Pennell

Laureate Professor
Roger Smith

Prof Jonathan Morris

Dr Ryan Hodges

Prof Lex Doyle

A/Prof Jeanie Cheong

Dr Clare Whitehead