Meeting milestones in the face of challenges

Monday 03 August 2020

Despite a global health pandemic catching everyone off guard, this year has still delivered moments of joy for new parents.

As expected, the circle of life does not stop for a pandemic, and every day new little miracles are born at Mater Hospital Brisbane. So too, does the work of Mater Research continue, amidst the challenges of COVID-19.

Milestones continue to be met both for newborns, meeting their developmental moments, and researchers nearing their goals and project targets.

Mater’s world-class research institute—Mater Research—delivers medical and clinical research that translates research findings from ‘bench to bedside’ as quickly as possible; directly benefiting patients at Mater, across Australia and around the world.

The PAEAN study (Preventing Adverse outcomes of Neonatal hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy (HIE) with Erythropoietin) is an Australian-first trial being led by Mater Researcher and Professor Helen Liley.

First commencing in 2017, this study is investigating more effective treatment options for babies born with Neonatal Hypoxic Ischaemic Encephalopathy (HIE), which can cause brain injury and death. Further, the PAEAN study aims to reduce the severity of brain injury in babies who have suffered too little oxygen or blood supply to the brain during birth.

Professor Liley said the trial aimed to find new ways to reduce the rate of death and disability of babies suffering from HIE.

“The condition is a concern worldwide and this research aims to develop a more effective treatment option for HIE, to prevent death and brain injury which can cause severe disabilities for babies as they grow, like cerebral palsy. 

“For babies who meet the criteria of HIE they will usually be given hypothermia (cooling) therapy to reduce the risk of long-term problems, however, the treatment doesn’t help all babies’ brains to recover fully, with more than one third of babies treated this way still living with long-term problems.

“The randomised PAEAN study involves hypothermia therapy combined with a high dose of Erythropoietin, a natural hormone, which shows promise as a treatment for HIE when given to babies in their first week of life.”

In 2017 Golden Casket Chief Operating Officer Sue van der Merwe said she was honoured to present Mater with the $500 000 donation and hoped it would bolster its life-saving and life-enhancing research.

“All Queenslanders should start their lives receiving the best care and opportunities possible, and this is what Mater is delivering through its PAEAN study,” Ms van der Merwe said.

“We are pleased we can support important world-leading research projects such as this.”

The research team, and all of us here at Mater, are beyond grateful for the support to date—but we still need your help.

As of July 2020, the study reached the milestone of 268 babies enrolled to PAEAN. The target is to reach 300 babies—another milestone that is nearing, and one that you can help come true.

If you would like your baby to be a part of this history research study, please contact Professor Liley at