Prenatal identification of infants at risk of perinatal mortality and severe neonatal morbidity

Project opportunity

This Earmarked Scholarship project is aligned with a recently awarded Category 1 research grant. It offers you the opportunity to work with leading researchers and contribute to large projects of national significance.

Prediction and prevention of adverse perinatal outcomes (stillbirth, neonatal death and severe neonatal morbidity) remains a global challenge regardless of socio-economic setting. Although the precise causes of these outcomes are poorly understood, placental dysfunction is implicated in many cases. Placental dysfunction results in poor oxygen and nutrient supply to the infant1 and often leads to an infant that is small for gestational age (SGA) (birthweight <10th centile for gestation) or has intrauterine fetal growth restriction (FGR). Importantly, not all cases of FGR are SGA, as significant diminution of intrauterine growth may be present despite a birthweight >10th centile.

Clinical identification of SGA/FGR fetuses late in pregnancy is difficult, with clinical assessment limited by a number of factors including maternal habitus and fetal lie. Secondly, although the association between some risk factors and low birthweight and/or adverse outcome is known, the actual predictive utility for a specific risk factor is often relatively poor. Identification of women at risk of adverse outcomes is crucial because if a woman is deemed to be high risk for either a SGA/FGR infant and/or adverse perinatal outcomes, enhanced surveillance involving serial fetal ultrasound monitoring and earlier pre-emptive birth may mitigate some of these complications. The overarching aim of this project is to develop a clinically useful screening test utilising fetal biophysical variables measured on ultrasound and placental biomarkers in the maternal circulation for the following outcomes:

  1. Birth of a small for gestational age infant
  2. Emergency operative birth for intrapartum fetal compromise
  3. A composite of severe neonatal outcomes related to intrauterine hypoxia and placental dysfunction

Scholarship value

As a scholarship recipient, you'll receive: 

  • living stipend of $28,854 per annum tax free (2022 rate), indexed annually
  • tuition fees covered
  • single Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)


Professor Sailesh Kumar

Faculty of Medicine


Preferred educational background

Your application will be assessed on a competitive basis.

We take into account your

  • previous academic record
  • publication record
  • honours and awards
  • employment history.

A working knowledge of tertiary maternal and fetal medicine and advanced prenatal ultrasound would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of obstetrics and gynaecology and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of prenatal ultrasound, clinical maternal and fetal medicine is highly desirable.

Latest commencement date

If you are the successful candidate, you must commence by Research Quarter 2, 2022. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date.

If you are an international applicant, you may need to apply much earlier for visa requirements.

How to apply

You apply for this project as part of your PhD program application.

View application process