Parkville Precinct Student Awards 2021

Bianco Fato, Madeleine Carrick and Lucy Caughey

Congratulations to students Bianco Fato, Madeleine Carrick and Lucy Caughey who have all received awards at the annual Parkville Precinct Student Awards.

  • Bianca Fato - Department Honours Awards (Honorary mentions) (Excellent performance in their Department, RMH Honours Program – class of 2020)
  • Madeleine Carrick - RMH HONOURS SCHOLARSHIP
  • Lucy Caughey - 2021 Nick Christopher Scholarship

Bianco Fato was awarded the Department Honours Awards (Honorary mentions) Excellent performance in their Department, RMH Honours Program – class of 2020 for her honours project titled Developing human models of preeclampsia to test novel pharmacological intervention targets. Her supervisors were A/Prof Natalie Hannan and the project was Co-Supervised by A/Prof Tu’uhevaha Kaitu’u-Lino.

Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication that claims over 70,000 mothers and more than 500,000 babies annually. The onset of maternal hypertension is a hallmark of the syndrome, alongside damage to maternal organs. Aberrant factors that are released into the maternal circulation cause vascular dysfunction and manifestations of the disease. Despite its devastating consequences and prevalence, there is no cure for preeclampsia. My project entailed creating a human model that depicts the vascular dysfunction and constricted phenotype central to preeclampsia. I developed this model utilising blood serum from very sick preeclamptic women as well as whole vessels from pregnant women. My project revealed this is indeed a very useful model to mimic the distinct vascular dysfunction and importantly I showed the model could be used to test a novel pharmacological therapy to treat vascular dysfunction in preeclampsia.

Madeleine Carrick is an Honours student in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, University of Melbourne and it supervised by Dr Sarah Lensen. Her honours project is titled Understanding Additional IVF Treatment Options.

Many additional or 'add-on' treatments are available for purchase by in vitro fertilisation (IVF) patients to supplement their cycle. The major goal of any IVF cycle is to achieve the live birth of a healthy baby. In the interest of research efficiency, many trials use upstream or surrogate outcomes to evaluate the efficacy of these add-on treatments, rather than live birth. This research is used on IVF clinic websites to advertise add-on treatments. However, it is unclear how IVF patients interpret information about reported benefits from interventions on upstream outcomes, including whether they view these improvements as being likely to result in improving the chance of live birth. Thus, we have designed a survey to determine whether patients interpret benefits in upstream outcomes to also indicate benefits in live-birth rates.

The Nick Christopher Scholarship Committee convened recently to select the awardees for the two scholarships available in 2021. Lucy Caughey, from Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology was announced as one of the successful awardees.

Lucy Caughey is a PhD student in the EmPoWeR Unit, Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, University of Melbourne and is supervised by Dr Michelle Peate, Dr Sarah Lensen and Professor Katherine White. Her PhD topic is Elective Egg Freezers’ Disposition Decisions.

Disposition decisions are complex, morally challenging and can cause couple conflict, decision regret and psychological distress. In Australia when women/couples have surplus frozen oocytes they can choose to donate them to research, donate them to women or couples in need, or to discard them. This research will examine the disposition decisions and intentions of elective egg freezers and the attitudes, beliefs, facilitators and barriers that influence their decision. This information will inform fertility clinicians how to support, inform and counsel elective egg freezers in their disposition decisions thereby reducing potential psychological distress and a potential secondary outcome could be an increase in donation of oocytes to others and research.

The Nick Christopher PhD Scholarship honours the legacy of Mr. Nick Christopher who was the Department of Medicine Manager from 2001-2008, and the Inaugural Parkville Cluster Manager in 2008 until his passing on the 15th November 2008. The scholarships, targeted to attract and support the best and brightest students to undertake their PhD studies in our Clinical Departments, was one of his most passionate projects.

Two Nick Christopher scholarships are offered to the best ranked PhD students commencing their study in any of the Parkville Departments.