Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

Gynaecology, Obstetrics & Perinatal Health

Research Mission Statement: The research aim of the Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology is to carry out transformational clinical research in the field of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, which will benefit mother and child and have an impact on both women's health and overall public health.

Our endeavours will complement the College research mission of being a translational research medical school benefiting patients through clinical research. We are actively pursuing cutting-edge clinical and scientific research, benchmarking our achievements with international publications and recognition.

Core research topics include intra-uterine growth restriction (IUGR), discordant growth in twins, the role of platelet function in poor obstetric outcomes, prenatal diagnosis of aneuploidy, subclinical hypothyroidism in pregnancy, twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) and advanced fetal surgery.

The Department is active in a wide variety of research projects. These include both national and international collaborative projects, single and multi-disciplinary projects and individual research activities. The Department plays a leading role in Perinatal Ireland, the national obstetric research consortium, comprising seven of the leading fetal medicine centres in Ireland.

The group carries out cutting-edge research in the areas of women's and children's health. The consortium has just completed the largest ever prospective study on twin pregnancies, evaluating antenatal management of over 1000 twin pregnancies. The group has recently begun a large-scale multi-centre study investigating management of intra-uterine growth restriction (IUGR).

The Department is also a partner in an international multicentre study, coordinated by the Brown University and Women and Infant's Hospital in Rhode Island, United States. This world-wide study is investigating the use of free fetal nucleic acid in maternal serum for the non-invasive prenatal diagnosis of aneuploidy.

In addition to these major collaborative projects, a number of multi-disciplinary projects are ongoing within the Department, linking different medical and scientific specialities. One such project is investigating placental pathology in twin pregnancies, which forms part of the ESPRiT Twins Study.

This study aims to evaluate the contribution of gross and microscopic placental pathology to abnormal growth and perinatal morbidity in twin pregnancy. The study is also investigating the use of stereology to investigate the phenomenon of chronic uteroplacental insufficiency affecting one twin as a contributor to growth discordance in twin pregnancies.

Another project brings together researchers from the fields of obstetrics, reproductive medicine and clinical therapeutics to investigate platelet function in normal and complicated pregnancies. Related work in the area of platelet reactivity and pregnancy loss has received international acclaim at the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine Meeting in Chicago in 2010.

Further investigations into other possible causes of poor obstetric outcomes are underway. These include the characterisation of platelet function in normal pregnancy, the analysis of the role of platelet reactivity in recurrent miscarriage, preeclampsia, unexplained intra-uterine growth restriction (IUGR) and in recurrent IVF implantation failure.

The Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at RCSI has a strong tradition in developing and introducing new surgical techniques. The Department has recently secured a prestigious Walton Award from SFI to establish a centre at the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin to develop and ultimately provide advanced fetal surgical techniques for the treatment of fetal abnormalities. This centre aims to develop a new fetal treatment research programme, focussing on improving fetoscopic technique in areas such as early onset severe Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS), congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH), myelomeningocele (spina bifida) and to develop a new form of fetal balloon for improving intrauterine surgical management for fetal diaphragmatic hernia.