MATERNAL fetal medicine specialist associate professor Lisa Hui at Northern Health has been awarded an investigator grant for medical research.
Ms Hui was awarded the grant in the highly competitive Medical Research Future Fund – a clinician researchers’ initiative.
The initiative believes the next generation of Australians has the capacity to make and progress great medical discoveries.
The grant responds to the fund’s Genomics Health Future Mission by closing the ‘critical knowledge gaps in perinatal genomics’.
Ms Hui completed her clinical training in obstetrics and gynaecology in Sydney and conducted her PhD research in Boston.
She has clinical appointments at both Mercy Hospital for Women and Northern Hospital and is an associate professor in the department of obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of Melbourne.
Ms Hui said she believed genomics was one of the most exciting fields in medicine and had created powerful tools that told people how the body worked.
“My research program is about how we harness the power of new genomic technologies to improve outcomes for mothers and babies,” she said.
Ms Hui’s research will focus on multiple areas including looking at childhood outcomes for children diagnosed with a genomic change of uncertain significance during pregnancy.
“About five per cent of the time, when we sample cells to check the baby’s chromosomes, we find these genomic changes of ‘uncertain’ or ‘unknown’ significance,” Ms Hui said.
“We don’t have enough information to know if they have implications for future health or not. This means we can’t give a couple accurate information about the expected health and development of their future child.
“In this cohort study at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, we will be following up with children who had one of these diagnoses before they were born and looking at their development and health outcomes at two to seven years of age.
“We aim to follow up several hundred children, which will make it the largest study of its kind in the world.”
Northern Health chief medical officer Dr John Ferguson said the health team was proud of Ms Hui’s work.
“We are both proud and excited with Lisa’s work in perinatal genomics,” he said.
“The sheer diversity of our catchment population means we have a wide variety of genetic variability based on ethnicity and this recognises that specific genetic conditions are more prevalent in certain nationalities.
“Lisa is an inspiration to both current and future generations of clinical researchers.”