Dr Bronwyn Brew has been announced as the recipient of the 2023 Asthma and Airways Career Development Fellowship, jointly funded by the National Asthma Council Australia and the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand.
Dr Brew was awarded the Fellowship to develop her research into the prevention of asthma in children through inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) control of maternal asthma in pregnancy.
“With this project I would like to investigate the possibility that regular ICS use in pregnancy in women with asthma will actually help to prevent the development of asthma in their children.
“In addition, I want to investigate if women without maternal exacerbations (hospital or emergency, period of breathlessness) are also less likely to have children with asthma,” she said.
Dr Brew said that both these results together would suggest that better asthma control in pregnancy has the potential to not only improve perinatal outcomes and maternal health but may reduce asthma in children.
“Despite studies showing that ICS use by women at the start of pregnancy, mid pregnancy and/or the end of pregnancy was strongly associated with a lower risk of asthma, wheeze and use of SABA in children aged 4-6 years, there has been a lack of research to confirm these results.
“Most research in maternal asthma focuses on the perinatal period without follow up to childhood, so my research will aim to answer whether asthma control exhibited by regular ICS use and a lack of exacerbations may reduce asthma onset in children,” she said.
Dr Brew plans to conduct an observational replication study using population wide linked health data of pregnant women with asthma and their offspring in both Australia and Sweden.
She said that the public health significance of this finding is important for respiratory health, not only for management of asthma in pregnant women but to improve population asthma rates.
“If we find that regular ICS use in pregnancy and prevention of maternal exacerbations will reduce asthma in children, the plan is to verify this with different study designs and ultimately attempt to explain the mechanistic pathway to child asthma,” said Dr Brew.
The Fellowship was established to enable mid-career investigators to establish themselves as independent, self-directed researchers and foster the development of research in respiratory medicine in Australia and New Zealand. The Fellowship is for one year and is jointly funded by the National Asthma Council Australia and the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand to the value of $60,000.
National Asthma Council Australia CEO Rhonda Cleveland said they were pleased to contribute to Dr Brew’s research and proud to assist with the career development of an emerging respiratory expert.
“Supporting the Asthma and Airways Career Development Fellowship aligns perfectly with the National Asthma Council Australia’s commitment to build capacity and knowledge within the research and clinical community and mission to improve Australia’s capabilities to help people with asthma to breathe well by facilitating best-practice care.
“It is also a way to give thanks for the generous support of many respiratory experts who provide their expertise in the development of the National Asthma Council Australia resources and educational programs,” she said.
TSANZ President Professor Anne Holland said “Granting mid-level funding to mid-career researchers provides critical support for knowledge generation, developing leadership, and fostering research teams. We are committed to building capacity in the respiratory workforce and increasing investment in lung health”.
TSANZ CEO, Vincent So, said “TSANZ is pleased to work with NAC as partners on this fellowship to enhance funding for respiratory research and support the important work of our members. This is another step on our quest to prevent disease, cure and provide relief from respiratory illness to patients.”
Dr Bronwyn Brew – career summary
Dr Brew is a Senior Research Fellow at the National Perinatal Epidemiology and Statistics Unit at the Centre for Big Data Research in Health (CBDRH) and School of Clinical Medicine, Discipline of Women’s Health, UNSW. Bronwyn is a perinatal and respiratory biostatistician and epidemiologist with an extensive program of research around asthma and stress related disorders, in particular maternal and pediatric conditions, comorbidities and aetiological pathways.
For further information or an interview with Dr Bronwyn Brew, please contact:
Donna Le Page, Le Page PR
Mobile: 0429 825 703