Area of study
Fetal and Neonatal Health
Year of enrolment
Why did you choose Hudson Institute and your research group?
Associate Professor Ryan Hodges is the Program Director of Women’s and Newborn at Monash Health and a clinical associate at The Ritchie Centre. His fetal research program brings together local and international collaborations between obstetricians, neonatologists, paediatric surgeons and fetal physiologists - including Professor Stuart Hooper, a world leader in research on lung development and the physiological transition to air-breathing at birth, and Professor Jan Deprest, an internationally-renowned expert who has spearheaded the largest clinical trials in this field. These collaborations make the Fetal Therapy group at The Ritchie Centre an exciting place to work alongside some of the best and brightest at the forefront of truly translational research. After completing Honours with this group in 2016, I was so impressed with the positive environment fostered by staff and students throughout the entire Hudson Institute, that I knew I had to continue my research with a PhD.
What is your research about and what do you hope to achieve?
The transition to newborn life is uneventful for most babies, however some require assistance breathing at birth because their immature lungs are not ready for life in the outside world. One devastating cause of impaired lung development is congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH), which affects 1 in 3000 babies. Two-thirds of babies with CDH are diagnosed during a routine ultrasound scan at 20 weeks of pregnancy, so we are investigating promising new therapies that could be used to improve lung development before these babies are even born. Ultimately, we hope to offer a management plan for CDH that incorporates antenatal medical therapies to encourage the normal formation of blood vessels within the lungs, fetal surgical approaches to increase lung size, and physiologically-based cord clamping to optimise the transition to newborn life – a bundle of care that ensures the best start to life for each and every bundle of joy.
What opportunities have you had at Hudson Institute?
During my time at the Hudson Institute I've had the opportunity to attend the Perinatal Society of Australia and New Zealand conference in both 2017 (Canberra) and 2018 (Auckland, NZ), and the Australian Society for Medical Research national scientific conference in Sydney. I'm really excited about some upcoming conferences that I'll also be attending later this year: the International Fetal Medicine and Surgery Society meeting in Bali, the Perinatal Research Society meeting in Denver, USA, and the Monash Cardiovascular Symposium right here at home! I'm also looking forward to travelling to Leuven, Belgium, where I will work with Prof Jan Deprest for a month - thanks to a travel grant from Hudson Institute! I've also loved the opportunity to get to know students doing cool research in other fields, through my role as the Vice-President of the Hudson Institute Student Society (HISS) and team captain of the Mixed Netball team - "HISS & Hers"! Looking forward to the student retreat!