Optimising Neurodevelopmental Outcomes in ‘At-Risk’ Infants

Project: Research

Project Details

Project Description

The number of infants born each year who are ‘at-risk’ for neurodevelopmental impairment is enormous, and the burden to society is immeasurable. My vision is to acquire new knowledge and develop new interventions to ultimately reduce neurodevelopmental disability in ‘at-risk’ infants. My research program consists of three inter-related streams.

Stream 1 aims to better characterise long-term neurodevelopmental problems in infants ‘at-risk’ of neurodevelopmental problems, focussing on clinical populations in which there is controversy regarding their long-term outcome (ie. infants prenatally exposed to low to moderate levels of alcohol, infants born extremely preterm). Findings will inform public health policies, influence clinical decision-making, and influence guidelines relating to surveillance policies for ‘at-risk’ infants.
Stream 2 aims to examine neurodegeneration in individuals born very preterm (VP). I speculate that survivors born VP demonstrate accelerated aging. In a world first, my program will investigate neurodegeneration and brain age in VP survivors using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), as well as explore the association between the APOE genotype and neurodegeneration in VP individuals. These findings have the potential to challenge current dogma regarding the long-term outcome following VP birth, inform approaches for long term neuroprotective strategies, and influence policies relating to management.
Stream 3 aims to assess the efficacy and impact of new intervention strategies for children born ‘at-risk’ for neurodevelopmental impairments. This includes trials of antenatal and neonatal interventions in at-risk populations to reduce brain injury and improve neurodevelopmental outcome. I will also continue research into early interventional therapies for at-risk populations, using a new web-based, clinician supported program for VP infants which could transform how early interventions services are provided to ‘at-risk’ infants.
StatusActive
Effective start/end date1/01/2031/12/24

Funding

  • National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC): AUD728,030.00
  • National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC): AUD1,500,000.00