Executive Team

The Executive Team manages the operational and strategic aspects of Gravida, encompassing science leadership and administrative functions. The Executive Team is comprised of several of the key senior investigators within Gravida, a representative from AgResearch, and the Centre's Strategic Operating Officer.

  • Professor Phil Baker

    Professor Phil Baker

    Director – Gravida

    BMedSci, BM, BS, DM, FRCOG, FMedSci

    Professor Phil Baker is an obstetrician scientist with a particular interest in the pregnancy complications preeclampsia and intrauterine growth restriction. These conditions are studied at a molecular, cellular, blood vessel and whole body level with each project interacting with and strengthening other projects.

    Major ongoing efforts include the use of murine models to identify novel potential therapies for preeclampsia and intrauterine growth restriction, and the application of metabolomic technologies for patient benefits, particularly to develop screening tests for major pregnancy complications.

    Other research interests have included: vascular adaptation to pregnancy, placental cell invasion, placental cell turnover, endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs), adverse pregnancy outcome in teenage pregnancies, fetal origins of adult disease (such as schizophrenia) and the effect of maternal stress on pregnancy outcome, and MRI imaging in pregnancy.

    After training in Nottingham, Cambridge and Pittsburgh, Phil was appointed Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Nottingham. There, he established a critical mass of researchers; the group was notable for having more abstracts accepted at the Society of Gynecologic Investigation than any other centre.

    In addition to being the new Director of Gravida, Phil is also the Scientific Director of the International Pregnancy Research Alliance (IPRA). Previous posts include leadership of two medical schools and a successful Manchester (UK) application for a National Institute of Health Research Biomedical Research Centre (he was the inaugural director). He has been awarded grants totaling more than $40M for his own research portfolio; the majority of these grants relate to the study of the pathogenesis of pre-eclampsia and fetal growth restriction.

    Phil is currently co-PI of an MRC (UK) programme grant and an EU FP7 programme grant. He has also led institutional research applications that have successfully accrued over $100M; several of these applications represent cross-institutional and cross-faculty interdisciplinary initiatives.

    Phil’s ability to manage research is illustrated by over 300 scientific publications; more than 100 of these are with international co-authors. He holds visiting Professorships in Canada, China and the UK.

  • Professor Hugh Blair

    Professor Hugh Blair

    Massey University, Palmerston North

    BAgrSc(Hons), PhD

    Hugh’s research interests are in animal genetics and epigenetics, and the inheritance of disease.  Hugh is currently Deputy Head and Director of Research and Commercialisation for the Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences at Massey University.  He holds several industry consulting positions.  Hugh leads a Gravida Major Project investigating the effects of fetal programming on later life productivity in sheep and cattle.

    Current projects:

    Long-term consequences of a stressed uterine environment

  • Professor Frank Bloomfield

    Professor Frank Bloomfield

    Liggins Institute, University of Auckland, Auckland

    BSc(Hons), MBChB, MRCP(UK), FRACP, PhD

    Frank is a neonatal paediatrician whose research interests focus on fetal and neonatal nutrition and growth, including long-term consequences of altered growth trajectories, fetal development in twins, development of the fetal hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and consequences of perinatal care. He carries out his clinical duties in the newborn nursery at National Women's Hospital and is leader of the fetal and neonatal physiology research group at the Liggins Institute. He also has an appointment in the Department of Paediatrics, The University of Auckland. Frank leads two Gravida Major Projects, the first investigating the relationship between high protein diet in extremely low birthweight babies and the later life risk of diabetes and obesity; while the second looks to identify the triggers for the growth differences between single births and twins.

    Current projects:

    Metabolic outcome with high protein intakes in ELBW babies
    Life as a twin begins at conception

  • Professor Caroline Crowther

    Professor Caroline Crowther

    Liggins Institute, The University of Auckland, Auckland

    Caroline is the Professor of Maternal and Perinatal Health at The Liggins Institute, University of Auckland. As a Maternal Fetal Medicine Subspecialist, her research focuses on improving outcomes following preterm birth, multiple pregnancy, hypertensive disease, birth after caesarean, obesity in pregnancy and gestational diabetes. Caroline holds a joint appointment as Clinical Director of ARCH; the Australian Research Centre for Health of Women and Babies, in the Robinson Institute at the University of Adelaide. She is an editor for the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Collaborative Review Group, Chair of the WOMBAT (Women and Babies Action Through Trails) collaborative network and a committee member for the IMPACT (Interdisciplinary Maternal Perinatal Australasian Clinical Trials) Network.

  • Associate Professor Peter Dearden

    Associate Professor Peter Dearden

    University of Otago, Dunedin

    BSc, BSc (Hons), PhD, DIC

    Peter is an evolutionary geneticist whose research interests are in evolution and development, with a particular focus on how morphology evolves at the molecular level, the molecular mechanisms of developmental plasticity and in identifying ancient and conserved developmental programmes. He established the Laboratory for Evolution and Development at the University of Otago, is the Scientific Director of Genetics Otago, and in 2009 was appointed to the Scientific Advisory Board of the Science Media Centre. He leads a Gravida Major Project investigating the phenomenon of developmental plasticity in invertebrate model organisms.

    Current projects:

    Mechanisms and consequences of developmental plasticity

  • Dr Judith Hammond

    Dr Judith Hammond

    Strategic Operating Officer

    Judith brings additional academic and commercial experience to Gravida management team, and a strong understanding of the challenges associated with the tertiary research environment.

    Her PhD in Politics was awarded in 2010 by The University of Auckland. While completing her PhD, Judith was Contract Manager at Auckland UniServices Ltd, managing the commercial portfolios of three research centres and a broad range of central, local government and privately funded contracts in the education and social sciences sectors. She then moved to Business Operations as an Operations Analyst where she developed and implemented a new financial model for UniServices’ research centres.

    Judith has extensive multi-sector commercial experience, including in the public and private tertiary education sector, international trade promotion, as well as the legal, IT and medical sectors.

    She is committed to ensuring that the Centre's operational excellence is aligned with its strategy to support the ground-breaking research and translation work undertaken by Gravida's various research partners.

  • Professor Warren McNabb - AgResearch Liaison to the Executive

    Professor Warren McNabb - AgResearch Liaison to the Executive

    AgResearch, Palmerston North

    BAgricSci(Hon), PhD

    Warren is the Research Director at AgResearch and is based at AgResearch Grasslands in Palmerston North. He has an adjunct appointment in the Riddet Institute, Massey University as a Professor and Principal Investigator.

    Warren completed a PhD in Animal Science at Massey University in 1990 and a BAgricSci degree with First Class Honours in Animal Science at Massey University in 1986. He joined AgResearch in 1993 as a Senior Research Scientist in the Nutrition and Behaviour Group where his research was focused on protein and amino acid metabolism in the productive tissues of ruminants.

    Warren’s recent research focused on nutrigenomics and nutritional epigenetics, and on food-host-microbial interactions and food for human health and wellbeing. He has over 200 publications including 10 invited plenary papers and 7 invited reviews, and he supervises six PhD students.

    Warren is a Fellow of the Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Science and a Professional Member of the Institute of Food Science and Technology Inc.