Student Profile - Dr Karinna Fyfe

Karinna Fyfe

Student Profile - Dr Karinna Fyfe

Monash Health intern Dr Karinna Fyfe caught the ‘research bug’ when she completed her Bachelor of Medical Science (Hons) after her 4th year of medical school.

“I enjoyed my BMedSci project so much that I felt compelled to see the research through to its completion and undertake a PhD,” said Karinna.

“As an undergraduate medical student I thoroughly enjoyed my paediatric rotation, and this piqued my interest in paediatric research.”

Karinna developed a particular interest in preterm infants who are born incredibly vulnerable to a vast range of different conditions and therefore stand to significantly gain from research directed at improvements in their management.

“My research involved investigating the increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in infants born preterm,” said Karinna.

Karinna measured a range of physiological variables while conducting sleep studies in preterm infants, primarily focussing on cerebral oxygenation which provides an indication of blood supply to the brain during sleep.

“We discovered that preterm infants have significantly lower cerebral oxygenation during sleep, compared with infants born at term.”

“Of even more significance, we showed for the first time that placing a preterm infant in the prone position (on their stomach) to sleep, causes a further drop in their cerebral oxygenation.”

Karinna’s research suggests that this may contribute to the increased risk of SIDS in preterm infants.

Prone sleeping remains a major risk factor for SIDS and this important research provides further evidence to support safe sleeping guidelines for infants.

“I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to conduct my research in an environment that is both supportive but also promotes a culture of excellence in research,” added Karinna.

“I can’t recall a single conference or symposium during my PhD in which a student from The Ritchie Centre didn’t win a prize; the quality of work is exemplary!”

“The quality and diversity of research, access to excellent facilities and the close working relationship with Monash Health ensures Monash Health Translation Precinct (MHTP) is perfectly placed to conduct exceptional translational research,” said Karinna.

Karinna believes research is immeasurably important as it guides every clinical decision made by clinicians.

“Modern medicine is evidence-based and every intervention should be backed up by high-quality scientific research.”

“At MHTP, clinicians and researchers are actively encouraged and supported to collaborate to ensure that research efforts are directed towards areas most in need.”