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Combating Maternal Childbirth Injury with Cellular Therapies

Maternal birth injury can have a devastating impact on women’s quality of lives. Injuries incurred during vaginal childbirth are the leading risk factor for chronic debilitating pelvic floor disorders such as pelvic organ prolapse (POP). Evidence shows that acute pelvic tissue injury from forceps delivery, prolonged second stage labour, large infant birth weight, anal sphincter laceration and episiotomy lead to POP. In Australia, forceps use has risen by 70% since 2006 and 2 out of 3 births now result in pelvic tissue trauma. Although arising from vaginal birth, untreated tissue injury gradually culminates into a chronic diagnosis, years or decades later. Chronic pelvic floor disorders resulting from maternal birth injuries 50% of post-menopausal parous women, and detrimentally impacts their physical, sexual, psychological and social well-being and yet, lacks a safe and effective treatment. Alarmingly, there is no therapeutic cure for POP, let alone a way of predicting and preventing the eventual onset. We are developing innovative secondary prophylactic post-partum therapies to repair birth injury and thus, prevent development of POP. This project will look into the design and application of hydrogels to deliver highly regenerative and therapeutic Mesenchymal Stem cells from maternal tissues and evaluate its suitability in the form of a injectable therapy for maternal birth injury using pre-clinical ovine models, medical genomics and advanced imaging technologies. Our team involves engineers, biomedical scientists, surgeons, chemists and biophysicists. We welcome students from diverse academic backgrounds to participate and contribute to the project in aspects which interests them the most.
Essential criteria: 
Minimum entry requirements can be found here:
birth, birth injury, maternal health, women's health, hydrogel, stem cell, tissue engineering, pelvic floor
Available options 
Masters by research
Short projects
Joint PhD/Exchange Program
Medical Education
Time commitment 
Top-up scholarship funding available 
Physical location 
Monash Health Translation Precinct (Monash Medical Centre)
Caroline Gargett

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