Pregnancy and Reproduction

The HMRI Pregnancy and Reproduction Research Program brings together researchers focussed on understanding the environmental and biological processes that control reproduction and birth.

Health at birth is a major indicator of health outcomes in later life; a low birth weight can increase the risk for the development of diabetes, heart disease, obesity and kidney failure.

Advancements in the understanding of preterm births can facilitate the improved health of pregnant women, and therefore the future health of all Australians. In particular, Indigenous Australians are a major risk group for poor maternal health, and this is reflected in the Program’s research interests.

Researchers within the Program have not only investigated the mechanisms which lead to premature birth, but they have used these findings to develop trials of novel therapies which can help prevent preterm from happening. Laboratory scientists work closely with clinicians, particularly in the John Hunter Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

The Pregnancy and Reproduction Program also studies the causes of infertility. Unfortunately, this condition will affect 1 in 6 Australian couples, and is a growing problem in modern society. By working to improve the diagnoses of male and female infertility, researchers are ensuring that therapies can be introduced as early as possible.

The Pregnancy and Reproduction Program is also working to improve existing treatments of infertility, by investigating the mechanisms behind the decline in female fertility with age, and the processes of egg and sperm development and function.

Finally, the Pregnancy and Reproduction Program is one of the few groups in Australia who are working to elucidate the cause of still birth.

Researchers in the Pregnancy and Reproduction Program are affiliated with the University’s Priority Research Centre for Reproductive Science, and incorporates:

Program Leader: Professor Roger Smith AM, The University of Newcastle

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