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WIRF is one of Australia's leading organisations that is dedicated to improving the health of women and infants.

NHMRC grant to bolster Artificial Placenta Project

Haruo.jpgThe outlook for the most vulnerable preterm babies, born at the border of viability, is set to vastly improve following a recent grant to one of Western Australia’s most promising perinatal researchers.

Dr Haruo Usada was awarded a prestigious Emerging Leadership Investigator Grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) valued at $674,400 as part of the latest round of NHMRC funding.

Preterm birth is the leading cause of perinatal death and disease in Australia; extremely preterm infants are at the highest risk. The underdeveloped lung makes current ventilation therapies of limited use to those born at the earliest gestational ages.

Dr Usada’s project, ‘Artificial Placenta Development - A New Life Support System for Premature Babies’, will develop artificial placenta technology for extremely preterm infants, removing the need for pulmonary ventilation. He will simultaneously leverage this unique placental-knockout system to optimise fetal assessments and generate new knowledge for healthy fetal growth and development.

WIRF Chief Scientist, Professor Matt Kemp, said Haruo was a true pioneer of the new era of perinatology.

“He has ensured that Western Australia is a global leader in research into perinatology and finding new solutions to the problems that emerge during the perinatal period. His research spans new technologies but he embeds his research in an environment to support clinical translation.

“Not only do we have some of the best minds in the field working on this much needed treatment, we also have a clear pathway for moving the results of our work beyond the laboratory and into clinical use.”

In more exceptional news from the latest round of NHMRC funding, leading midwifery researcher, Dr Zoe Bradfield, has also successfully secured an Emerging Leadership Investigator Grant for her project, ‘Measuring what Matters to Australian Mothers: The MMAMs Study’.

In addition to sitting on WIRF’s Scientific Committee, Dr Bradfield is Senior Research Fellow at Curtin University and holds a joint appointment as WA’s only Senior Midwifery Research Fellow at the Women and Newborn Health Service.

Investigator Grants provide the highest-performing researchers at all career stages with consolidated funding for their salary (if required) and a significant research support package.


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Women and Infants Research Foundation
Carson House, King Edward Memorial Hospital
374 Bagot Road, Subiaco, WA 6008

Telephone: 08 6458 1437
Fax: 08 6458 1642
Email: info@wirf.com.au

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