Dr Tamara Yawno, Cerebral Palsy Alliance Career Development Fellow

Tamara undertook her PhD at Monash University and was involved in studies, which showed that endogenous neurosteroid pathways in the fetal brain were essential for normal brain development. Several papers directly from this work have been highly cited and form the foundation for ongoing studies in this field and were the basis for a successful NHMRC grant.

She is working in The Ritchie Centre as part of a research group which provides a focus for experimental and clinical studies directed towards understanding the mechanisms that contribute to perinatal and neonatal brain injury and functional deficits associated with cerebral palsy.

Tamara received a Fellowship from the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists focusing on stem cell therapies for brain injury. She was also awarded a highly prestigious Career Development Grant from the Cerebral Palsy Alliance of Australia. Tamara’s recent publication on stem cells has been featured in the Herald Sun ‘Placental cells may hold hope for preterm brain injury and cerebral palsy’.

Tamara’s work on neurosteroids has great clinical relevance not only because there are virtually no effective therapies for perinatally-acquired brain damage, but also because many obstetric and neonatal clinicians appear to know very little about the role of neurosteroids in development of the brain. Her latest research about ganaxolone (synthetic neurosteroid) for the treatment of neonatal seizures has attracted a lot of attention in the clinical setting; and through collaborative partnership with clinical experts, academia and industry, a world first multi-centre trial known as GaINS (Ganaxolone In Neonatal Seizures) will commence in 2021.