National Scientific Advisory Group (NSAG)

SIDS and Kids has a National Scientific Advisory Group (NSAG) providing advice on research initiatives and gaps in policy in relation to SIDS and Kids.

NSAG review and recommend research development, research initiatives and public and health professional educational campaigns. Members of the group, who have no conflict of interest, are also responsible for providing advice to SIDS and Kids on the projects that best fall within SIDS and Kids’ research funding protocol.

Front L to R: Monnia Volpi-Wise, Prof Rosemary Horne, Louise Ellis. Back L to R: Prof Heather Jeffrey, Catherine Chamberlain, Jill Green, Lorraine Harrison, Dr Jhodie Duncan, Prof Gay Edgecombe, Assoc Prof Leanne Raven, Adrienne Gordon, Prof Jeanine Young, Dr Susan Arbuckle. Absent: Prof Roger Byard, Assoc Prof Jane Freemantle. Melbourne, Dec 2015.


The National Scientific Advisory Group membership consists of:

Professor Rosemary Horne (Chair)
NHMRC Senior Research Fellow and Deputy Director, The Ritchie Centre, Monash Medical Centre

Professor Rosemary Horne is a National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia Senior Research Fellow and heads the Infant and Child Health theme within the Ritchie Centre, Monash Institute of Medical Research. Her research interests focus on sleep in infants and children, and she has had a particular interest in the mechanisms underlying the risks for SIDS for over 30 years.  Rosemary has published more than 100 research and review scientific articles. She is Chair of the Physiology working group of the International Society for the Study and Prevention of Infant Deaths and the Paediatric Special Interest Group of the Australasian Sleep Association, a Director of the International Paediatric Sleep Association, a member of the SIDS and Kids Australia National Scientific Advisory Group and is on the editorial boards of the Journal of Sleep Research, Sleep and Sleep Medicine.

Doctor Adrienne Gordon
Neonatologist and Clinical Senior Lecturer, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital The University of Sydney

Adrienne is a Neonatal Staff Specialist in the RPA centre for newborn care and an NHMRC Early Career Research Fellow at the University of Sydney. She has a Masters of Public Health and a PhD on risk factors for stillbirth for which she received an NHMRC Public Health Scholarship. She is particularly interested in perinatal topics with a public health impact that have the potential to improve pregnancy and newborn outcomes.  Adrienne is on several State and National Committees that are directly responsible for policy and practice in the provision of perinatal care. She is Deputy Chair of the National Scientific Advisory Group of SIDS and Kids, a member of the IMPACT network for improving health through perinatal clinical trials, represents NSW on the National Perinatal Mortality Report project and has close links with perinatal consumer groups such as Miracle babies and the Stillbirth Foundation Australia. She is an avid supporter of evidence-based policy and practice and is passionate about translating research into clinical care. She led the Sydney Stillbirth Study which assessed modifiable risk factors for late pregnancy stillbirth across nine different hospitals. The results of this project have contributed to the recent establishment of a specialised bereavement support service (iSAIL – integrated support after infant loss) within Sydney Local Health District. Adrienne is  also Project Lead for the Charles Perkins Centre’s BABY1000 Study. BABY1000 is a visionary project which will provide a major contribution to knowledge regarding early life predictors of health and disease and the interventions that will ultimately improve health for our future generations.

Professor Jeanine Young
School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of the Sunshine Coast
Adjunct Professor, Centre for Health Practice Improvement, Griffith University
Visiting Senior Research Fellow, Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service

Professor Jeanine Young is a registered nurse, midwife, and neonatal nurse with over 25 years of experience in neonatal, paediatric and child health care. Jeanine has a special interest in how infant care practices impact infant mortality, and in particular breastfeeding, parent-infant bed-sharing and shared sleeping practices, and infant settling strategies, including infant wrapping.

Jeanine is a member of the Australian College of Midwives Scientific Review and Advisory Committee, Queensland Paediatric Quality Council, Queensland Child Death Review Committee. Jeanine chaired the SIDS and Kids National Scientific Advisory Group from 2008-2015.

Jeanine’s research has a particular focus on developing evidence-based strategies and culturally appropriate educational resources to assist health professionals, including Indigenous Health Workers, in delivering Safe Sleeping messages to parents with young infants.

Jeanine is currently leading the first Australian safe infant sleep space trial in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities using the Change for our Children Pepi-pod Program.

Doctor Susan Arbuckle
Dr Susan Arbuckle is a senior Staff Specialist at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead in Histopathology. She is on the NSW Maternal and Perinatal Committee and on the Perinatal Outcomes Working Party. She also sits on the State Birth Defects Committee and has been involved with PSANZ and with the Stillbirth Project. In the past she has been involved with college committees and organising the paediatric and perinatal component of various meetings.

She has been an author on a number of papers, the majority of which have been in paediatric and perinatal pathology. Her particular interest has been the aetiology of stillbirth and placentas.

Susan has set up and organised a Perinatal Service, which is now used by Western Sydney, Central & South West Sydney, Gosford, most private hospitals in Sydney and many of the country hospitals. The quality and care offered by this service is much appreciated by those using it. Careful examination is made of every perinatal case to find, if possible, the aetiology and possible cause of the perinatal death. Education of clinicians and providing answers and appropriate care of the babies for the parents and clinicians is a focus of the service.

Professor Roger Byard AO PSM
Forensic pathologist

Professor Roger Byard holds the George Richard Marks Chair of Pathology at the University of Adelaide and is a Senior Specialist Forensic Pathologist at Forensic Science SA in Adelaide, Australia. He has a specific interest in sudden infant and childhood death and coedited/authored the following books: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome – Problems, Progress and Possibilities (Arnold, 2001), Sudden Death in the Young (3rd ed) (Cambridge University Press, 2010) and Forensic Pathology of Infancy and Childhood (Springer, 2013).

Professor Gay Edgecombe
Gay Edgecombe formally held a number of positions (local, regional and state levels) in Community Health Nursing for the Public Health Department of Western Australia (1970-1990) and Professor of Community Child Health Nursing at RMIT University (1994-2010). In Victoria she worked closely with Victoria’s Maternal and Child Health Program and School Nursing Service. Her research was related to these services and included Fitting Fathers into Families (1999), development of the School Entrant Questionnaire (2001). Overseas projects included AusAID program work in China and Indonesia and a short secondment to the WHO European Office in Denmark.  More recent projects included being a member of the steering committee overseeing the development of the Royal Women’s Hospital Parenting Package (2014).

Professor Heather Jeffery MB BS, PhD, MPH, FRACP, MRCP(UK) is a Paediatrician/Neonatologist. She has been Professor of International Maternal and Child Health, Sydney School of Public Health at the University of Sydney and Clinical Academic Neonatologist at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPAH), Sydney. Prior to this she was Head of Department of Neonatology at RPAH.

During the last 10 years she has focused on South East Asian countries working in Malaysia, Vietnam, the Balkans and more recently Mongolia and South Africa. Her research interests are focused in three areas.

i)             A multidisciplinary nutritional research program underway in Sydney to develop methods to screen rapidly, easily, at low cost the most at risk, malnourished, term newborns and young children up to two years using near infrared technology (NIR project). Gates Foundation funding

ii)             Prevention of neonatal infection and perinatal mortality and morbidity in four South East Asian (SEA) countries (SEA URCHIN project funded by NHMRC, a collaborative project with the Cochrane Centre, Monash University and four SEA countries)

iii)            Evidence-based education (SCORPIO methodology) to translate best evidence into practice. This has been trialed in NSW and applied to capacity building in Macedonia, Vietnam and the SEA URCHIN project

Since her PhD many years ago on SIDS she has maintained a research and community interest in the prevention of SIDS and Sudden Unexpected Death in Infants. She currently is a member of the Child Death Review Committee, NSW, the Sudden Infant Death Advisory Committee NSW Health and the scientific committee of SIDS and Kids Australia

Associate Professor Jane Freemantle

Associate Professor Jane Freemantle holds a Master of Public Health from the University of Adelaide and a PhD (Paediatrics) from the University of Western Australia.  Professor Freemantle’s main career focus is as a paediatric epidemiologist working with total population linked data describing Indigenous infants, children and young people and communities, nationally and internationally.

She argues that unless we have complete and accurate data describing Indigenous populations, we will be unable to identify whether indeed we have successfully ‘closed the gap’ on Indigenous disadvantage. To this end, her particular focus is on ensuring that data that informs policies, strategies and initiatives aimed at reducing the disparities and improving outcomes of the social determinants of health and wellbeing experienced by Indigenous populations are complete and accurate.  She has recently completed a program of research funded by the Australian Research Council the Lowitja Institute, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Aboriginal Health Branch of the Department of Health Victoria and the Ross Institute. The research has developed a more accurate and complete total population mortality profile of Victoria’s Aboriginal (and non-Aboriginal) children born between 1998-2008, using population data linkage and an innovative method and research process.  This research has enabled for the first time a more accurate baseline from which to measure the success of state and national initiatives aimed at reducing the current disparities in mortality and maternal and infant outcomes experienced by Indigenous populations.

Professor Freemantle holds a position as Principal Research Fellow (hon) within the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health at the University of Melbourne, position as Principal research fellow within the Department of Rural health (Shepparton) has been an Australian Research Council Australian Research Fellow.  Jane also holds an Associate Professor position at the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health at the University Of Western Australia, an honorary Senior Research Fellow at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, Monash University, Victoria, and is an Honorary Research Fellow, Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, University of Western Australia.  She is a Chief Investigator on an Australian Research Council Linkage Grant (Monash University) and an Associate investigator on an NHMRC Program Grant.

Doctor Jhodie Duncan
ARC Future Fellow, the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, Melbourne

Doctor Jhodie Duncan is currently an ARC Future Fellow at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, Melbourne. Beginning in 2005, Dr. Duncan spent four years in the laboratory of Professor Hannah Kinney at Children’s Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School, MA, USA on CJ Martin and First Candle Fellowships. During this time Dr. Duncan explored the underlying neurotransmitter abnormalities that exist in infants dying of SIDS and how these may contribute to sudden death. Her findings, which were published in JAMA (2010), revealed that infants dying of SIDS are unable to produce adequate levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin in regions of the brainstem involved in life sustaining processes, thus increasing the risk for sudden death. Since returning to Australia she has a continued interest in SIDS research acting as the Australian Scientific Coordinator for collaborative research projects within Australia and the US.

Doctor Catherine Chamberlain

Catherine Chamberlain is a Senior Research and NHMRC Early Career Fellow at the Baker IDI (Melbourne), and her fellowship aims to develop strategies to reduce cardio-metabolic risk among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers. A descendant of the Trawlwoolway people (Tasmania), Catherine has over 25 years’ experience in maternal health, and has worked in remote, rural and urban settings across health service, government and university sectors.  Her research interests include applied mixed method research and evaluation, including systematic reviews of evidence.

Associate Professor Leanne Raven
CEO, SIDS and Kids, Melbourne.

Leanne commenced as CEO of SIDS and Kids Australia in January 2007 and is dedicated to saving the lives of babies and children through the elimination of sudden and unexpected deaths and supporting bereaved families.  Prior to joining SIDS and Kids Leanne was a self-employed strategy and management consultant with executive and senior management experience in public health and education. Over the past 20 years Leanne has undertaken many leadership roles within human services, the education sector and family services areas.

The National Scientific Advisory Group meets four times yearly either face-to-face or via teleconference.

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