Chief Investigators

RBWH/UQCCR: Professor Paul Colditz, Professor Roslyn Boyd, Dr Atul Malhotra, Associate Professor Stephen Rose, Professor Boualem Boashash, Professor Michael Ditchfield, Associate Professor Michael Fahey, Dr Kerstin Pannek, Dr Randal Moldrich.

Monash University: Dr Atul Malhotra, Professor Michael Ditchfield, Associate Professor Michael Fahey

Associate Investigators

Prof Alan Coulthard, Dr Barbara Lingwood, Prof David Edwards, Dr Flora Wong, Ms Joanne George, Prof Michael Breakspear, Dr Robert Ware, Dr Simon Finnigan, Dr Stella Bjorkman 


Chief investigators were awarded $1,645,141 by the NHMRC (NHMRC1084032) over 5 years (2015-2020) to complete this study.

About the study

This prospective cohort study conducted at RBWH, UQCCR, QCPRRC at UQ and at the Monash Medical Centre in conjunction with CSIRO will identifying new markers for very early (<32 weeks gestation) detection of cerebral palsy. Using the two current MRI compatible incubators at RBWH and Monash University this research will undertake the largest study of early brain structure and function in preterm infants. This study aims to predict neurodevelopmental disability in babies born very preterm, earlier and more accurately than currently possible, by identifying structural and functional connectivity features that correlate with clinical measures of motor and neurodevelopmental functions.

Study methods

To do this we will use (i) advanced brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to determine the structural wiring diagram of the brain (‘brain connectome’), (ii) dense array electroencephalography (EEG) to establish the functional activity or electrical ‘traffic’ being carried on the main branches of the connectome and (iii) structured clinical neurodevelopmental assessments to provide a cutting edge view of the state of brain development. Infants born very preterm (23–31 weeks gestation) are at high risk of neurodevelopmental disability (10% cerebral palsy, 50% learning and behavioural difficulties at school age), which results in costs of several billions of dollars annually in Australia. This research project will be a major advance to better neurodevelopmental outcomes through early prediction and rational use of early interventions. This project is an extension of the current PPREMO study conducted in Queensland.

Recruitment criteria

This study seeks babies born preterm and  term. If your baby was born before 31 weeks gestation (preterm) or between 40-42 weeks gestation (term) we would like to discuss with you whether you would like to participate in the study.


Project members

Professor Roslyn Boyd

Professor and Scientific Director

Ms Christine Finn

Research Physiotherapist

Mrs Kym Morris

Research Physiotherapist

Ms Megan Kentish

Program Director
Queensland Children's Hospital Paediatric Rehabilitation Service