National award recognises leading research into pregnancy complications
A University of Adelaide-led research project that could improve pregnancy outcomes for thousands of women has won a prestigious national award.
Chief Investigator Professor Jose Polo from the University of Adelaide received the 2022 National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) Fiona Stanley Synergy Grant Award at an evening ceremony in Canberra on Wednesday 29 March.
Professor Polo and his team of scientists are investigating the development of the placenta during the early stages of pregnancy and how this is linked to pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes, preterm birth and pre-eclampsia.
“Up to 30 per cent of pregnancies in Australia are affected by major complications associated with defects in placental development,” said Professor Polo, who is also the Director of the Adelaide Centre for Epigenetics.
“Our new insights into the earliest days and weeks of placental development including implantation could shed new light on the cell interactions that increase the risk of pregnancy complications. This could potentially lead to new treatments for pregnancy-related diseases as well as infertility.”
The Fiona Stanley Synergy Grant Award is given to the applicant who receives the highest score from peer reviewers involved in selecting successful recipients of the NHMRC’s Synergy Grant Program.
“I’m very honoured to be part of this team of extraordinary scientists to improve pregnancy outcomes and life-long health for mothers and their babies.”Professor Jose Polo
The collaborative project led by Professor Polo was recently awarded a $5 million grant through that program.
“To receive the Fiona Stanley Synergy Grant Award and this recognition from our peers is a huge endorsement and shows the value of this research in this area of research,” he said.
“I’m very honoured to be part of this team of extraordinary scientists to improve pregnancy outcomes and life-long health for mothers and their babies.”
Professor Peter Høj AC, Vice-Chancellor and President, University of Adelaide praised Professor Polo for his award.
“Professor Polo is an extraordinary researcher and I congratulate him for being recognised for his ground-breaking work with the Fiona Stanley Synergy Grant Award,” he said.
“The University of Adelaide is a world leader in health education and research and this award recognises the importance of his research and its global impact.”
Work on the five-year project, which is titled ‘Using complex models of human trophoblast to study placental biology and disease’, is now underway.
The NHMRC Fiona Stanley Synergy Grant Award
This award is named to honour Professor Fiona Stanley AC FAA, an epidemiologist known for her contributions in researching the causes of major childhood illnesses such as birth defects and her focus on Aboriginal child health and wellbeing.
Professor Stanley was the founding Director and now Patron of the Telethon Kids Institute and was named Australian of the Year in 2003. This award recognises the top-ranked Synergy Grant.
Professor Jose Polo, Director, Adelaide Centre for Epigenetics, The University of Adelaide.
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Jessica Stanley, Media Officer, The University of Adelaide. Mobile: +61 (0)422 406 351.