Who we are

We are a New Zealand maternal and perinatal clinical trials network. Our Network has a Steering Group, an Executive Committee and regional representatives across the District Health Boards (Site Network Leaders and Site Network Coordinators). We explain roles of our members below.

Strategic Research Initiative Fund Steering Group 

Five-year funding for the ON TRACK Network was secured from the University of Auckland Vice Chancellor’s Strategic Research Initiatives Fund in 2015. This grant has enabled the establishment of the Network and the development of the Clinical Data Research Hub (The Hub) to facilitate the conduct of clinical trials in maternal and perinatal health. Whilst responsibilities for reporting to the funder continue (until late 2020), the overarching project is overseen by the Steering Group. Once the Network is self-sustaining the Steering Group will transfer all governance to the ON TRACK Network National Executive Committee.

The Hub is synergistic to the ON TRACK Network. Based at the Liggins Institute, University of Auckland, the Research Hub provides methodological, data management and bio-statistical expertise to support clinical trials around New Zealand and internationally. Access the hub here.

Members of the Steering Group

  • Professor Caroline Crowther (Chairperson) is Professor of Maternal and Perinatal Health at the Liggins Institute, University of Auckland and subspecialist in Maternal Fetal Medicine.
  • Dr Jane Alsweiler is a Neonatologist at Auckland City Hospital and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Paediatrics at the University of Auckland.
  • Professor Frank Bloomfield is Director of the Liggins Institute, Professor of Neonatology at the University of Auckland and Neonatologist at Auckland City Hospital.
  • Associate Professor Katie Groom is Obstetrician and subspecialist in Maternal Fetal Medicine at National Women’s Health, Auckland City Hospital and Associate Professor in Maternal and Perinatal Health in the Liggins Institute, University of Auckland.
  • Distinguished Professor Jane Harding is Professor of Neonatology at the Liggins Institute, University of Auckland.
  • Professor Lesley McCowan is Head of Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Auckland and subspecialist in Maternal Fetal Medicine at National Women’s Health, Auckland City Hospital.
  • Dr Chris McKinlay is Neonatologist at Counties Manukau Health and Senior Lecturer at the Liggins Institute, University of Auckland.

ON TRACK Network National Executive Committee (NEC)

The NEC aims to be representative across the disciplines of Maternal and Perinatal medicine, and across ethnicity and geography in New Zealand. Original members of the National Executive Committee were appointed following a national call for expressions of interest in 2016.

Members are clinicians, nurses, midwives, researchers and consumers. The Committee meets on a regular basis and is responsible for directing the activities of the ON TRACK Network. Terms of reference for the committee are available here.

NEC members are listed below (click on names to read more).

Tanith Alexander is a paediatric dietitian based at Middlemore Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Tanith is actively involved in clinical research and has co-authored several academic articles. Tanith is a doctoral candidate at the Liggins Institute, University of Auckland.  She leads the DIAMOND trial (Different Approaches to Moderate & late preterm Nutrition: Determinants of feed tolerance, body composition and development trial) which is currently underway at Auckland City, North Shore, Waitakere and Middlemore hospitals.

Associate Professor Nicola Austin graduated in medicine at the University of Otago before specialising in paediatrics. She completed an MD during her training at Southampton. Nicola is a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (FRACP). Nicola is actively involved in research in the Neonatal Unit at Christchurch Women’s Hospital and is an Associate Professor at the University of Otago (Christchurch).  Her current research focus is neuroimaging of the newborn infant and health outcomes and care for families and their infants through local and national advocacy.

Dr Max Berry received her medical education in London and has since specialised in neonatal medicine in New Zealand. Max is a Member of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Children’s Health (MRCPCH) and a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (FRACP). She completed her PhD at the Liggins Institute, University of Auckland. She works as a Neonatologist at Wellington Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Otago (Wellington). Max’s research interests focus on translation of biomedical research into clinical practice.

Esther is senior clinical midwifery leader at Christchurch Women’s Hospital where she is also the ON TRACK Network Site Coordinator. Esther holds a research-based Master’s in Midwifery and is working towards undertaking a feasibility study for a PhD with the Liggins Institute, University of Auckland.  Her research area of interest is in perinatal outcomes and management of maternal anaemia and iron deficiency.

Professor Caroline Crowther received her medical education at The University of Birmingham, UK and is a Fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (FRCOG) and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College (FRANZCOG). She is Professor of Maternal and Perinatal Health at the Liggins Institute, University of Auckland with an affiliation to the University of Adelaide. She is a trained sub-specialist in Maternal Fetal Medicine. Caroline is recognised internationally for her extensive record in leading high quality research, particularly randomised trials, and with a focus on translating results into clinical practice. Caroline is the principal investigator for the University of Auckland Vice-Chancellor’s Strategic Research Funding Initiative which funds the establishment of the ON TRACK Network.

Phoebe is a midwife working in the Women’s Assessment Unit, Bay of Plenty District Health Board.  She has 10 years’ experience working in the midwifery profession within primary, secondary and tertiary facilities. She holds a Bachelor of Midwifery and Post Graduate Certificate (Otago); she also has a Bachelor of Physical Education (Otago). Her time in the Women’s Assessment Unit has allowed her the opportunity to be involved with a number of ON TRACK clinical trials and contributed to her keen interest in perinatal research.

Dr Nathalie de Vries trained in paediatrics and neonatology in the Netherlands, and was awarded her PhD in 2013 from the University of Groningen. Nathalie is a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (FRACP) and works as a Paediatrician at Palmerston North Hospital. Nathalie is passionate about enabling and contributing to research in regional hospitals. Being part of the ON TRACK Network enables her to be closely connected to the development of perinatal research in New Zealand and to provide feedback from a regional hospital setting point of view.

Associate Professor Katie Groom is an Obstetrician and Maternal Fetal Medicine subspecialist at National Women’s Health, Auckland City Hospital and Associate Professor of Maternal and Perinatal Health, Liggins Institute, University of Auckland.  Her research focuses on clinical trials of therapies and interventions for the prevention and treatment of the major complications of pregnancy. She is currently the Chief Investigator for the C*STEROID trial, a national multicentre randomised trial through the ON TRACK Network exploring the effects of antenatal corticosteroids prior to planned caesarean section at and after 35 weeks gestation on perinatal health.

She has previously been the Chief Investigator of STRIDER NZAus, a multicentre randomised trial of sildenafil for the treatment of early-onset fetal growth restriction and the EPPI trial, a multicentre randomised trial of enoxaparin for the prevention of preeclampsia and fetal growth restriction.

Katie is very actively engaged in promoting the integration of research into routine clinical care. She was a key member of the 2013-2014 feasibility study for a New Zealand wide maternal and perinatal health clinical trials network which has led to the development of the ON TRACK Network. In addition to her role with the ON TRACK Network she also chairs the Perinatal Society of Australia and New Zealand (PSANZ) Interdisciplinary Maternal and Perinatal Australasian Collaborative Trials (IMPACT) Network and has been an elected board member of the Australian Clinical Trials Alliance (ACTA) (2016-2018) and PSANZ (2015-2018).

Sabina is currently Midwife Educator at Auckland City Hospital. Before coming to New Zealand in 2001, she was an intensive care unit nurse in Germany for over 20 years and a movement therapist for five years. In New Zealand she started working as a nurse in acute gynaecology followed by working as an independent LMC midwife for more than six years.  She has a Masters in Midwifery from the University of Technology Sydney, which has helped to drive her continued interest and passion for research.

Cheana is a qualified social worker who has previously worked at Te Whare Hauora formerly known as Otautahi Womens Refuge as a Whanau Ora Navigator and Frontline Crisis Responder.  Having a one year old son she has recent experience as a consumer of maternity care.  With her own experience as a maternity care consumer and her professional roles supporting women and children she has a keen interest in supporting the ON TRACK Network with its vision to achieve greater equity, outcomes, and quality of life for women and babies nationwide.

Karien has a background in maternal and neonatal health, both nationally and internationally. She is the ON TRACK Site Network Coordinator for the Waitemata DHB. Prior to this, she has worked in Auckland Starship NICU as a Neonatal Nurse and Family Liaison Nurse Specialist. During this time, she was also an active member of the Neonatal Nurses College Aotearoa as Pacific Project Leader, delivering the Neonatal Nurse P.O.I.N.T.S of Care Programme in Samoa. This program was in alignment with the United Nations Millennium Development Goal number 4 of reducing infant morbidity and mortality. Karien has always been extremely interested in research and supported clinic trials in hospital settings.  She aims to encourage and increase research dialogue and improve health outcomes for mothers and babies via clinical trials.

Associate Professor Michael Meyer trained as a paediatrician at Groote Schuur and Red Cross Children’s Hospitals in Cape Town, South Africa. He has fellowships in both Neonatology and Immunology, and obtained a Doctorate in Paediatrics (MD) from the University of Cape Town. Mike is a Member of the Royal College of Physicians (MRCP) and a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (FRACP). He is a Consultant Neonatologist at Middlemore Hospital, Auckland, New Zealand and a Clinical Senior Lecturer at the University of Auckland. He has been lead investigator in several randomised controlled trials. Current research interests include preterm resuscitation, temperature control, humidification, delayed cord clamping, use of probiotics in preterm infants, erythropoietin and blood transfusion.

Jenny has extensive experience in childbirth education and associated services. She is currently Team Leader for Bumps to Babies at Barnardos New Zealand.  She is a consumer member on the Maternity Clinical Governance Group, MidCentral District Health Board. Jenny has a strong interest in Māori health outcomes and achieving equity; she has been the Administrator for Ngai te Ao Hapu Board since 2006. Jenny has been involved with the ON TRACK Network since the start of 2019 including representing the consumer voice at the 2019 and 2020 ON TRACK Network Trial Development Workshops.

Site Network Leaders & Site Network Coordinators

The ON TRACK Network aims to facilitate and support clinical trials research and implementation of best practice for everyone providing and receiving maternal and perinatal health care across the country. We have invited all 20 District Health Boards within New Zealand to become ON TRACK Network members and to nominate their own Site Network Leader and Co-ordinator.

Site Network Leaders are senior practitioners with an interest and/or experience in research. They act as local champions and advocates for the Network and clinical trials research in their own local centre and are the point of contact for communication between the local site and the central Network. A description of the role is available here.

Site Network Co-ordinators are practitioners with a specific interest in clinical trials research. They assist the Site Network Leader and aid co-ordination of ON TRACK Network activities within each unit. A description of the role is available here.

Each DHB has the opportunity to appoint their own Site Network Co-ordinator to assist the Site Network Leader and to co-ordinate ON TRACK Network activities within their unit. The ON TRACK Network is able to provide a small amount of funding for salary support of this role.

If you do not know who your Site Network Leader or Site Network Coordinator is please contact us

Some DHBs have vacancies in these roles. If you are interested in taking on one of the roles or would like to nominate someone please contact us