In April 2015, a new Mater-led perinatal research interest group was established. Since then, QPaCt has grown from 7 to more than 80 biomedical and clinical researchers from Mater, The University of Queensland, Griffith University, Pathology Queensland and Queensland University of Technology.
The QPaCt group meets once a month, and has held workshops over the past year to discuss grant applications, as well as define its member expertise and immediate and future collaborations. The purpose of QPaCt is to expand and strengthen a local network of perinatal research that will facilitate new collaborations, increase publication output and external funding success, as well as foster excellence in students and early- and mid-career researchers. So far, QPaCt has initiated more than 10 new collaborations that have led to the co-supervision of students and preparations for at least three NHMRC project grant applications in 2017.
A major focus of QPaCt is to enhance research capacity around clinician-led patient care, which involves bringing together our multidisciplinary team of investigators focused on public health issues that include preterm birth, asthma and pregnancy, neonatal and preterm nutrition, ethanol and nicotine exposure, endocrine disruption, prenatal maternal stress, obesity, diabetes, mental health, allergies and neurodevelopmental disorders.
In July this year, QPaCt held its inaugural conference 'Hot Topics in Perinatal Research'. which involved 41 invited presentations from biomedical and clinician scientists, including Honours and PhD students, and early- to mid-career researchers. In addition, we were delighted to have a Keynote International presentation from Dr Dilys Freeman (University Glasgow) speaking on “Adipocyte function in pregnancy and preeclampsia”, as well as a Plenary presentation from Professor Roger Smith AM (University of Newcastle) who presented his “Placental Aging and Stillbirth” research.
"The outcomes of the 2016 QPaCt conference are anticipated to strengthen our competitiveness for external grant funding by engaging biomedical and clinician scientists to address clinically relevant perinatal health issues." says A/Prof Paul Dawson, co-chair of QPaCt and co-leader of Mater's Neuroscience and Cognitive Health research program.
"A major source of funding is the NHMRC project grant scheme, as well as the anticipated Medical Research Future Fund, and our approach to these highly competitive funds is to initiate partnerships well in advance to demonstrate true collaborations (publications and student co-supervision) as well as design clinically-relevant research questions/approaches"
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