19 Jul 2022

Congratulations to Fiona Qiu on AINSE postgraduate award

Fiona Qiu is a PhD student working on
antiepileptic drugs in pregnancy

Congratulations to Fiona Qiu who has won an Australian Institute of Nuclear Science and Engineering (AINSE) Postgraduate Research Award (PGRA) for her project, Antiepileptic Drugs in Pregnancy and in Neonates: Brain Entry and Effects on its Development.

Fiona is a PhD student, supervised by Associate Professor Nigel Jones. She describes the project, saying, "Numerous chronic diseases, such as epilepsy, necessitate long-term treatment of patients even during pregnancy and lactation, since discontinuation of medication has the potential to cause serious harm to the mother, and subsequently her offspring." 

However, she says, exposing the highly sensitive developing brain to some drugs may result in permanent neurobehavioral issues in later life. "This project is designed to use an established rat model of epilepsy to investigate the extent to which maternally administered antiepileptic drugs, valproate and lamotrigine, cross placenta and brain barriers and enter the developing brain. Additionally, potential deleterious effects these drugs may have on brain development and behaviour will be studied with the ultimate aim of providing insights to aid clinical decisions."

The AINSE Postgraduate Research Award consists of a A$8,250 per annum stipend given to students studying their PhD at an AINSE Member University. The Award also provides travel and accommodation support for students to present at conferences, undertake field work or travel to ANSTO facilities.

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