Dr Fiona Brownfoot is a private female obstetrician at the Mercy and clinician scientist, with a strong interest in translational research; developing novel treatments in the laboratory and bringing these into the clinic to improve outcomes for mothers and babies.

Fiona is passionate about improving outcomes for mothers and babies globally through research. Having completed a PhD with the Translational Obstetrics Group in ‘Developing novel therapeutics for preeclampsia’ with Professor Stephen Tong and Dr Tu’uhevaha Kaitu-u-Lino, Fiona’s research spans the breadth of translation from laboratory assays to national and international clinical trial. Fiona is a senior lecturer at the University of Melbourne and is a NHMRC and Mercy Perinatal Fellow. She is committed to developing novel treatments for obstetric conditions and devices to make pregnancy safer.

Fiona’s publications

Fiona has published over 30 papers in leading scientific journals and a book chapter. This research has generated significant interest from leading international academics. This is evidenced by commentaries and editorials being written about the work by Professors from Harvard, University of Edinburgh and Wayne State University.

Fiona’s grant funding

Fiona has obtained over $350,000 in grant funding since 2013 as the lead researcher and over $1,000,000 collectively with the team at The Translational Obstetrics Group. She is really grateful to all of the funding bodies that have supported this research including the NHMRC, The University of Melbourne, Mercy Perinatal, the Norman Beischer Medical Research Foundation, Avant, RANZCOG, Austin Hospital and SOMANZ.

Fiona’s awards and leadership roles

Fiona regularly presents at national and international conferences. She has obtained numerous awards for her work. She supervises and examines doctors training to be obstetricians. She regularly talks to the media as a Royal Australian and New Zealand College (RANZCOG) spokesperson.

  • 12 national and international awards in obstetrics
  • Awarded the prestigious Laxmi Baxi award in San Francisco at SRI
  • Awarded a President’s Award in New Orleans at ISSHP
  • PhD supervisor at the University of Melbourne
  • Supervisor of obstetricians in training
  • Senior lecturer and examiner at the University of Melbourne Medical School
  • Coordinator of the medical disorders in pregnancy revision day for the final exams in obstetrics
  • Co-founder and convener of the Australian Reproduction Update
  • Executive board member of leading reproductive organisations in Australia
  • On the editorial board of a leading international journal in obstetrics, ISUOG
  • Official spokesperson for RANZCOG and regularly talks to the media about topical issues in obstetrics

Coronavirus and pregnancy

Coronavirus is a new infection which is rapidly spreading around the world. There have been case reports in the medical literature of coronavirus in pregnancy and it seems pregnant patients with coronavirus have similar outcomes to non-pregnant women at a similar […]

Discovery of new treatment for preeclampsia

Preeclampsia is a serious complication of pregnancy. It is characterised by high blood pressure and protein in the urine and there can be signs of multisystem organ involvement and dysfunction. We have identified a medication, safe in pregnancy, that looks […]

Fiona Brownfoot’s research

1) Treating preeclampsia with a medication Preeclampsia is a really common and serious complication of pregnancy. It is caused by the release of toxins from the placenta into the blood stream and these inflict widespread injury to the mother’s organs. […]

Fiona’s leadership positions, presentations and awards

Fiona has given numerous invited presentations and presentations selected from an abstract on a national and international stage. She will deliver the very prestigious Ella McKnight Lecture for the RANZCOG annual scientific meeting in 2018. She has been awarded 6 […]

Fiona in the media

Fiona believes it is really important to let the community know about the advances being made in obstetrics. She has been the focus of a media release about the team’s research into developing novel medical treatments for preeclampsia. She is also a spokesperson for her college the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (RANZCOG). In this role journalists approach Fiona and ask for her opinion on the latest research in obstetrics. She loves being able to promote research and the health of mothers and babies on a large scale.

ABC Online:

A promising development in the treatment of pre-eclampsia is good news for a Melbourne woman who gave birth early because of the condition.

Youth Health Magazine:

Australian researchers are working hard to determine a way to treat preeclampsia, and so far, the solution might already be around for some time.

International Business Times:

The researchers in Melbourne might just have achieved a breakthrough in the treatment of pre-eclampsia, a common pregnancy complication.

Irishhealth.com:

A drug commonly used to treat diabetes may have the potential to prevent and treat the life-threatening pregnancy complication pre-eclampsia, new research suggests.

Health Canal:

The Translational Obstetrics Group at Mercy Hospital for Women and the University of Melbourne have found common diabetes management drug metformin has the potential to treat preeclampsia.

Daily Mail:

A first time mother who gave birth to her daughter 86 days early after being diagnosed with pre-eclampsia has welcomed a medical breakthrough in the fight against the illness.

Latest advances in research

This trial showed in women that have heavy bleeding after birth, a medication called tranexamic acid, reduces complications. The woman RCT
For more info:
1. Summary of the trial 2. The publication
This trial demonstrated that ultrasound in the third trimester detected more small babies than clinical assessment alone. Unfortunately it did over-diagnose and for every one small baby detected, two were thought to be small however were normally grown.
1. Summary of the trial 2. The publication
This trial demonstrated that induction of labour for macrosomia (a really big baby) reduced the incidence of shoulder dystocia (shoulders getting stuck when the baby is being born) and increased vaginal delivery rate compared to waiting for spontaneous labour.
1. Summary of the trial 2. The publication
This trial showed that delivery for preeclampsia compared to close monitoring of the patient at 34-37 weeks gestation resulted in fewer complications for the mother but more respiratory complications for the baby. They concluded that it is best to wait until term to deliver the baby if it is medically safe to wait and the disease isn’t severe.
1. The summary of the trial 2. The Publication
This trial examined whether induction of labour compared to continuing the pregnancy at 39 weeks in women aged greater than 35 years in their first pregnancy was safer. They found really similar results in both groups and therefore think that both approaches could be considered.
1. Summary of the trial 2. The publication
This study showed that it is probably best to deliver uncomplicated twin pregnancies at around 37 weeks gestation.
1. Summary of the trial 2. The publication
This study showed that going off to sleep on your back in the third trimester might increase your risk of stillbirth. Therefore it is best to fall off to sleep on your side. If you wake up during the night and you are on your back, don’t panic, just roll over and make sure you fall off to sleep again on your side.
Sleep position and stillbirth risk Association between maternal sleep practicesand late stillbirth
This trial showed that if you are at high risk of developing preeclampsia in your pregnancy, taking 150mg of aspirin reduces the risk of developing preterm preeclampsia. Make sure you discuss this with your doctor before starting aspirin.
Aspirin versus Placebo in Pregnancies at High Risk for Preterm Preeclampsia