Karen Best, Researcher, SAHMRI

My career in the health sector began as a Registered Nurse followed by the completion of a certificate in Midwifery. As a midwife, I spent almost 10 years working in a large neonatal unit in Adelaide caring for premature babies and their families prior to becoming involved in research. Fast forward my career approximately 12 years and following the recent completion of my PhD, I am now an investigator on a large national clinical trial.

We are looking into the effect of omega-3 in pregnancy for the prevention of preterm birth, the ORIP trial (Omega-3 to Reduce the Incidence of Preterm birth). With more than 2700 women already generously giving their time to take part, the ORIP Trial is the largest of its kind in the world.

We are well on our way to enrolling the 5540th pregnant woman we need to be able to answer our questions regarding the relationship of omega-3 and preterm birth. Having witnessed the journey that these babies and their families endure first hand as a midwife, I feel honoured and hopeful to be a part of this large scale NHMRC funded research project.  If successful, this simple low cost intervention has the potential to reduce the number of early preterm births (babies born less than 34 weeks gestation) by 12,000 annually in Australia. It will also provide the quality evidence necessary to change clinical practice guidelines that could be implemented internationally.

One of the highlights of being part of such a large clinical trial is the opportunity to work with colleagues in a number of hospitals around Australia who share the same passion for the research process and health improvement as our team from the South Australian Health & Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) in Adelaide.

 Improvements in healthcare does not just happen, quality clinical research is essential to ensure that advances in preventative health and new treatments for disease are based on high quality evidence.

Our research would not be possible without the often selfless act of the research participants who agree to take part in clinical trials. We need to continue to strive to make research more visible and accessible to the community ensuring there involvement in the design, conduct and implementation of projects.

I am excited for the day when the ORIP Trial is complete and we can share our findings with the world. I then look forward to the next clinical trial where we get to find answers to the next important question…