Research Grants

SOMANZ Research Grants

Applications for the 2023 grant will open soon.

The SOMANZ Research Grant is designed to encourage research in the field of Obstetric Medicine. It is funded directly by the Society and a single award of $10,000 is intended to be offered to members of the Society annually or as often as finances permit.  The 2022 Research Grant will prioritise applications from Early Career members ie. no more than 5 years beyond qualification.

The grant is designed to fund either clinical or basic science research projects in the field of Obstetric Medicine, including pilot studies. Ideally the project should be completed within the 12 months following receipt of the award. Successful applicants should aim to present their research findings at an annual SOMANZ meeting within 3 years of receiving the award.

Applications will be judged by the SOMANZ Council according to the following criteria:

  • Applicants must be a financial member of SOMANZ at the time of application
  • Significance / Relevance of the Research to Obstetric Medicine
  • Scientific Merit
  • Track Record / Potential of the applicant

Applicants must complete the online application form and submit to the SOMANZ secretariat:

Ms Suzie Neylon
Executive Officer, SOMANZ
145 Macquarie St
Sydney NSW 2000

SOMANZ Research Grant Application Form 2023 – Available soon

The file should be saved as a PDF or MS Word and named with your Surname and First initial and then emailed to SOMANZ as per the contact details above.

Applications for 2023 will open soon.

*The SOMANZ Council reserve the right not to offer a grant if a suitable application is not received.

2021 SOMANZ Research Grant Recipient – Professor Natalie Hannan – Mercy Hospital for Women, Victoria

“New horizons in the treatment of preeclampsia:  TNF-α inhibition with biologic therapies.

Preeclampsia is a serious pregnancy complication. The stressed preeclamptic placenta releases excessive toxic proinflammatory factors, especially tumour necrosis factora (TNFa), into maternal circulation, causing damage to maternal blood vessels/organs. Currently no effective treatment exists.

Here, we aim to demonstrate that neutralising TNFa using innovative biologic (antibody) drugs, etanercept and certolizumab (used for inflammatory diseases in pregnancy) will reduce preeclampsia disease processes. We will test their effectiveness in advanced models of preeclampsia and demonstrate whether they decrease injury to the placenta and maternal blood vessels.

If successful, offers a breakthrough in the management of preeclampsia, improving outcomes for both mothers and babies.


Dr Vanessa Murphy's Portrait

2019 SOMANZ Research Grant Recipient – Dr Vanessa Murphy – Hunter Medical Research Institute, Newcastle NSW

“Blood biomarker predictors of exacerbations of asthma during pregnancy, and their relationship to adverse perinatal outcomes.”

Asthma is the most common chronic disease to complicated pregnancy, affecting 13% of pregnancies in Australia. Pregnant women with asthma are at increased risk of a range of poor perinatal outcomes, including preterm birth, pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes. Exacerbations of asthma are common, and contribute to these increased risks. Currently, there is no way to predict women at risk of exacerbations in pregnancy. This project will use a novel method of counting inflammatory genes in the blood of pregnant women with asthma, and determining whether these genes can predict the risk of asthma exacerbations and/or poor outcomes during pregnancy or at birth.

Professor William (Bill) Hague's Portrait

2018 SOMANZ Research Grant Recipient – Professor William (Bill) Hague – Robinson Research Institute, University Of Adelaide

“Long term outcomes of children born to mothers with intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy.”

There are limited data on long-term outcomes for children of mothers experiencing intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy. Serum bile acids, the marker of this condition, are potent modifiers of metabolic, endocrine and neurological function, impacting on triglyceride and glucose metabolism, and liver growth. They can cross the placenta. We will use data linkage to compare growth and development of such children from women managed during their pregnancies between 2001 and 2010 in the public clinics of the Women’s and Children’s and the Lyell McEwin Hospitals, with those from all other women birthing at these hospitals during this period.

Dr Fiona Brownfoot's Portrait

2016 SOMANZ Research Grant Recipient – Dr Fiona Brownfoot – University Of Melbourne

“Safety and pharmacokinetics of sulfasalazine in patients with preterm preeclampsia.”

Preeclampsia is a serious complication affecting 5-8% of pregnancies. Currently there is no medical treatment and the only way to stop disease progression is to deliver the mother. At early gestations this leads to high rates of death and cerebral palsy in babies born too early.

Excitingly, we have found a medication, sulfasalazine, may be able to reverse key features of preeclampsia in laboratory studies using human tissues. We hope to progress this concept and treat women with preeclampsia with sulfasalazine. We will determine the amount of medication in patients and secondly assess its effects on the preeclampsia disease process.

2014 SOMANZ Research Grant Recipient – Dr Katie Powell Kolling Institute Of Medical Research, NSW

“Investigating the β-Isoform of the Thromboxane A2 Receptor (TPβ) and its potential use as a predictive biomarker in Pre-eclampsia.”

At present there is no diagnostic test to predict whether pregnant women will develop pre-eclampsia at some stage throughout their pregnancy. We have recently discovered a significant, human specific factor that may explain the origins of pre-eclampsia. This companion study seeks to determine the diagnostic value in assessing expression of this factor, TRβ, in early pregnancy for the purpose of detecting women at risk of developing pre-eclampsia. We will compare the levels of TRb transcripts in third trimester serum from women with normal pregnancies and those with clinically diagnosed pre-eclampsia. Subsequently, we will assess TRβ transcript expression in first trimester serum from pregnancies of known outcome to determine whether monitoring TRβ early in pregnancy improves the sensitivity and/or accuracy of predictive algorithms used to assess risk of pre-eclampsia in pregnant populations.

2012 SOMANZ Research Grant Recipient – Dr Antonia Shand

“Inflammatory bowel disease: prevalence, trends and pregnancy outcomes in New South Wales”. 

Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) (including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis) are chronic inflammatory diseases of the gastrointestinal tract that affect women of childbearing age.  Currently among women of reproductive age in Australia, the population prevalence IBDB during pregnancy and the associated pregnancy outcomes are unknown. We will use linked population date to access the prevalence and outcomes of IBD in pregnancy.

See publication from this project in BJOG – Click here for PDF Version.