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 Aotearoa 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.
Tanith Alexander is a 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.
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 principle investigator for the University of Auckland Vice-Chancellor’s Strategic Research Funding Initiative which funds the establishment of the ON TRACK Network.
Phoebe de Jong
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.
Katie Groom (Chair)
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 opening soon. This is 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).
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 ON TRACK Trial Development Workshop.
As a descendant of Rāhiri with whakapapa to Ngāpuhi, Felicity is an indigenous mother to three tamariki which she raised with te reo as their first language. Dr Felicity Ware is also a senior lecturer in Hauora at Massey University and coordinates Toi Hauora providing innoNative teaching, research, and supervision in kaupapa Māori and whānau-centred solutions to elevate the health and wellbeing of iwi, hāpu, whānau, and Māori communities. Felicity’s personal research endeavours focus on the role of Māori culture, language and identity in supporting wellbeing particularly for rangatahi and parents. Felicity is a Mana Ririki parenting facilitator and a peer-breastfeeding supporter and has held representative and advisory roles within maternity and child health at her local DHB Midcentral. She is also a founding member of Mokopuna ora a local initiative promoting health and wellbeing from conception with māmā, pēpi and whānau through weaving wahakura. Felicity was invited to join the ONTRACK executive team at the end of 2020 as a Māori advisor.
Puja gained her Bachelor of Health Science (Midwifery) and commenced LMC practice within South/East Auckland, where she has been a practising midwife for two years. Supporting women through their maternity experience initiated her interest in complexities within pregnancy and providing secondary care. She has been a core midwife at Middlemore hospital for the past year, primarily based in a high-risk antenatal ward. During this time, she has been able to achieve a Postgraduate Certificate in Health Science (Midwifery). She is currently working towards further Postgraduate studies and has a keen research interest to inform practice further and improve outcomes.
Associate Professor Jane Alsweiler is an academic in the Department of Paediatrics, Child and Youth Health at the University of Auckland and works clinically as a neonatal paediatrician in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Auckland City Hospital. Her current research interests focus on neonatal glucose homeostasis and growth, including long-term consequences of hypo- and hyperglycaemia, and consequences of perinatal care, including probiotics and antenatal treatments.
Dr Jordan Tewhaiti-Smith is a junior doctor with a vocational aspiration for Obstetrics and Gynaecology. He is also an early career researcher, interested in clinical Obstetrics and Gynaecology combined with his passion for Hauora Māori, which is supported by his role with the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand. His whakapapa extends from Ngāti Tahu, Ngāti Kahungunu and Ngā Puhi and he maintains strong ties to his whānau and community in the South Island.
Jordan holds multiple other roles and has experience on national and international governance committees, including currently a project exploring Indigenous Adolescent health globally. He is also involved in local research exploring Indigenous Adolescent experience with racism being led by the university of Auckland. Jordan is interested in growing his research portfolio within O&G and believes that clinical research implementation is key to improving outcomes for women and babies.
Jordan is excited to join the On Track Networks Executive Committee to learn, and to contribute to the landscape of Obstetrics research, in order to contribute to the betterment of women and whānau Māori in Aotearoa.
Nāu te rourou, nāku te rourou, ka ora ai te iwi.
With your food basket and my food basket the people with thrive.
Site Network Leaders & CoordinatorsWe have invited all 20 District Health Boards within New Zealand to become ON TRACK Network members asking the DHB multidisciplinary teams in maternal and perinatal health to nominate a Site Network Leader (SNL) and Site Network Coordinator (SNC) for their sites. Below we provide details of what the roles entail together with who current SNLs and SNCs are throughout the country. 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.
Site Network LeadersSite 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 CoordinatorsSite Network Coordinators 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.
Strategic Research Initiative Fund Steering GroupFive-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 Health Research Platform (formerly the Clinical Data Research Hub) to facilitate the conduct of clinical trials in maternal and perinatal health. Whilst responsibilities for reporting to the funder continue, the Steering Group oversees the overarching project. Once the Network is self-sustaining, the Steering Group will transfer all governance to the ON TRACK Network National Executive Committee. The Health Research Platform is synergistic to the ON TRACK Network. Based at the University of Auckland, it provides methodological, data management and bio-statistical expertise to support clinical trials around Aotearoa New Zealand and internationally.
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.