Women’s and Children’s Health

Overview

Monash Partners’ member organisations offer some of Australia’s most complex healthcare services for women and children, alongside cutting-edge research. These targeted health services operate collaboratively across Monash Partners, with Monash Health delivering about 15 per cent of Victoria’s babies.

Monash Health runs Victoria’s only foetal therapy service, providing care for babies during pregnancy. The new children’s hospital at Clayton is a major provider of children’s services with many of Monash Partners’ associates playing key roles.

The Monash Children’s is one of only two paediatric hospitals in Victoria, and is now home to the state’s largest neonatal intensive care unit and Victoria’s largest paediatric sleep centre. 

The Women’s and Children’s Health Theme has a number of innovative projects underway or awaiting funding, including:

  • A safety trial that could help prevent stillbirths in indigenous mothers
  • A study into the use of painkillers among low back pain sufferers
  • A research and education program on the timing of umbilical cord clamping at birth
  • A safety trial using stem cells to treat chronic lung disease in premature infants
  • A trial to reduce brain injury in infants that were growth restricted during pregnancy
  • An investigation into using smartphones to improve health monitoring during high-risk pregnancies.

The Theme is also working to develop a Polycystic Ovary Syndrome registry across Victoria, which would eventually be expanded nationally.


Our Priorities


Our aims and priorities for the Women’s and Children’s Health Theme are to:

  • Improve long-term health outcomes for mothers and their babies
  • Improve reproductive health in women and mitigate the adverse consequences of child birth
  • Improve health and educational outcomes in children.

Women’s and Children’s Health Theme Leaders

Monash Partners’ Women and Children’s Health Theme is led by clinician researchers and scientists who provide complex care and perform world-leading research into providing better health outcomes for mothers and their babies. We bring GPs, hospitals, and health researchers together with those who make policy and develop guidelines, with the aim of creating a more comprehensive outcome for patients.

This Theme is led by Associate Professor Jacqueline Boyle, Professor Stuart Hooper and Associate Professor Graeme Polglase.

Associate Professor Jacqueline Boyle

Associate Professor Jacqueline Boyle is a senior research fellow at Monash University, and leads its Indigenous and Refugee Women’s Health Program. She is also a gynaecologist and colposcopist at Jean Hailes Centre for Women’s Health.

Professor Jim Buttery

Professor Jim Buttery is a paediatric infectious diseases physician and vaccinologist. He is head of Infection and Immunity and director of research at Monash Children’s Hospital and is head of Monash Immunisation at Monash Health. Jim is the president of the World Society of Pediatric Infectious Diseases.

Associate Professor Graeme Polglase

Associate Professor Graeme Polglase is an NHMRC and National Heart Foundation Career Development Fellow and is Deputy Director of The Ritchie Centre at Monash University and the Hudson Institute of Medical Research. The Ritchie Centre’s focus is on improving the health of women, infants and children through innovative research.

 
 

Our Steering Committee

Alongside the Theme leaders is a well-respected team of committed women’s and children’s health specialists who share their vision and passion.
Members of the Steering Committee include:

Professor Jim Buttery
Dr Simon Craig
Associate Professor Eva Dimitriadis
Professor Sandra Eades
Associate Professor Michael Fahey
Professor Jane Fisher
Dr Jolyon Ford
Associate Professor Helena Frawley
Associate Professor Christos Georgiou

Associate Professor Kylie Gray
Dr Brian Hoare
Associate Professor Ryan Hodges
Prof Gab Kovacs
Associate Professor Tim Moss
Dr Alisa Pedrana
Professor Beverley Vollenhoven
Professor Euan Wallace.

Member Groups

The Women’s and Children’s Health Theme steering committee brings together experts and research from across Monash Partners.  To ensure we meet the objectives of this Theme we work closely and collaboratively with the following research hubs:

  • The Ritchie Centre sits across Hudson Institute and Monash University and is Australia’s largest perinatal research centre with a strong track record in foetal, neonatal and reproductive medicine
  • The Monash Centre for Health Research and Implementation (MCHRI) sits across Monash Health and Monash University and is a world leading centre for women’s and children’s health across clinical trials, epidemiology, healthcare improvement research and public health
  • Monash Women’s is one of the largest antenatal services nationally and undertakes research led by a range of craft groups and across the research continuum
  • The Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology is a clinical department of the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health, Monash University
  • The research activities of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaeocology are undertaken within the Ritchie Centre and Hudson Institute of Medical Research
  • The Department of Paediatrics, school of Clinical Sciences Monash University, is located at Monash Health and integrates with Monash Children’s Hospital
  • The Alfred Health, Women’s Health program focuses on midlife health including the epidemiology of breast cancer and menopause
  • The Jean Hailes Research Unit (JHRU) is a unique formal partnership between Monash University and Jean Hailes for Women’s Health, focusing on women’s mental health.

“If mental illness is left unchecked, it can not only have detrimental effects on the pregnancy, but also affect bonding between the mother and her newborn,”Associate Professor Jacqueline Boyle

Research Programs

The scope of the Women’s and Children’s Health Theme is vast and our work is divided into a number of different programs and projects.

They include:

Perinatal health
Improving neurodevelopmental outcomes for newborn babies and reducing their exposure to chronic lung, cardiovascular, renal and gastrointestinal diseases.

Endometriosis
Basic and translational research focused on determining the cause of endometriosis with the goal of developing new targets for therapeutics and finding diagnostic biomarkers.

Pelvic Floor Disorders
World leading interdisciplinary research using a bioengineering approach to treat pelvic floor disorders arising from birth injury.

Improving women’s Public Health
Improving women’s public health including Centres for Research Excellence in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and in optimising healthy lifestyle preconception, pregnancy and postpartum.

Psychosocial aspects of chronic health conditions
Jean Hailes Research Unit (JHRU) has a particular research interest in the sexual, reproductive and mental health of women including those living with chronic conditions.

Sleep
Victoria’s largest paediatric sleep centre, the world-class Melbourne Children’s Sleep Centre based at the new Monash Children’s Hospital.

Neonatology
Neonatal groups that are internationally recognised for leading translational research in perinatology – the branch of obstetrics dealing with the period around childbirth.

Infection and vaccinology
International excellence in four keys areas: susceptibility to infection in childhood; early life determinants of cardiovascular risk; Kawasaki disease; and vaccine safety.

If mental illness is left unchecked, it can have a detrimental effect on the pregnancy and also affect bonding between the mother and her newborn. Women’s Refugee Health Clinic, Monash Health Project.


Mental health
Projects in a range of areas including depression, suicide prevention, anxiety and trauma and family mental health and wellbeing.

Cystic fibrosis
Helping children with cystic fibrosis, focusing on transitional care, sleep problems, and the use of amniotic stem cells in post-lung transplant patients.

Neuroprotection and rehabilitation
Studies to improve outcomes following early developmental brain injuries.

Interventional immunology
Research into the immunity of newborn babies, especially those facing severe diseases.