Karen Best

Dr Karen Best

Affiliate Senior Lecturer

Adelaide Medical School

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD (as Co-Supervisor) - email supervisor to discuss availability.


I have had more than decade of clinical experience as a Registered Nurse, Midwife and Neonatal Nurse and played a pivotal role in the introduction of home gavage feeding to promote early discharge for preterm babies. I transitioned to clinical trial coordination and was instrumental in the design of web-based trial management systems enabling the quality completion of several large-scale, NHMRC and Industry funded RCTs at a standard recognised by top-ranking general medical journals including JAMA and the BMJ. These systems enabled the successful completion of my PhD project with a 90% follow up rate more than 6 years after the intervention. My work is the largest RCT to assess the long term
effects prenatal n-3 LCPUFA supplementation on symptoms of allergic disease at 6 years of age.

Previous Experience
I am a Research Fellow with the Healthy Mothers, Babies and Children theme of the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, specialising in the design, conduct and management of perinatal trials and long-term follow up of children. I have a unique combination of high level clinical and research management skills combined with more than a decade of clinical experience as a Registered Nurse, Midwife, and Neonatal Nurse. During my PhD I successfully completed allergy assessments on 668 six-year-old children whose mothers took part in a randomised controlled trial (RCT) of omega-3 (ω-3) long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) during pregnancy. I achieved a 90% follow-up completion rate and subsequently received a Dean ’
s Commendation for Thesis Excellence. I have successfully managed several large government and industry funded clinical trials to completion within specified timeframes, within budget and to a high standard recognised by top-ranking general medical journals including JAMA and the BMJ.
I am currently supervising the largest known trial of prenatal ω-3 LCPUFA supplementation for the prevention of preterm birth involving 5540 women from around Australia, The ORIP Trial.
 
Contribution to the Field of Research

My research output has been facilitated by my nursing background and my experience as a clinical trials coordinator in the CRO area. I have a unique mix of high level clinical and research management skills. These helped me gain an APA and subsequent competitive Paediatric/Child Health Nursing Scholarship to conduct my PhD that resulted my being awarded a special commendation by the Dean of Graduate Studies for thesis excellence. In my PhD I assessed asthma and allergy outcomes of 603 six-year old children (90% of eligible) who were randomly exposed to omega-3 long chain fatty acids or a vegetable oil control in utero. This blinded follow-up took 2.5 years to complete resulting in 4 peer reviewed manuscripts (2 as first author), a book chapter with a further 2 first author manuscripts currently under review. My two major PhD papers were published in top ranking paediatric and nutrition journals (Pediatrics and AJCN) both with supportive editorials and was widely distributed online via Reuter Health. The international attention received by my work including an invitation to attend a workshop in Denmark and collaboration on future projects, is evidence of its impact. Expert groups making practice guideline recommendations, including the Australasian Society for Clinical Immunology and Allergy and the American Academy of Pediatrics have considered my findings. I have delivered 4 national and 3 international conference presentations, 2 of these as an invited speaker. I was successful in securing a place in the competitive ‘Fresh Science’ media training and went on to be named winner of the South Australian Event. I have been named CI on 3 grants totalling more than $2.7m and a pending 2018 NHMRC project grant. I am an enthusiastic advocate for clinical trials and was recently selected by the NHMRC to feature on the new Australian Clinical Trial website, sharing my views of being a researcher’.

 
Community engagement and participation
I am passionate about communicating the importance of clinical trials to the public and developing more effective ways to encourage public involvement resulting in my recent national selection by the NHMRC to feature on the new Australian Clinical Trials website.

 I designed and manage a Facebook page for SAHMRI Healthy Mothers, Babies and Children theme and have arranged several local events to inform the public about the latest research including a sold out 'Dinner with a Scientist' evening for Australian Society for Medical Research.

 
Date Project Other Investigators Funding Body Amount
07/2017 MJN6640 Professor Maria Makrides, Dr Carmel Collins, Professor Robert Gibson, A/Professor Geraint Rogers, Dr Andrew McPhee, Dr Lisa Yelland

Mead Johnson Nutritionals
International Commercial

$2,200,000.00
02/2017 Omega-3 in breastmilk

A/Professor Beverly Muhlhausler, Professor Maria Makrides, Dr Carmel Collins, A/Professor Geraint Rogers,

BASF Newtrition Grant
International Commercial
$64,000.00
10/2017 Phthalates and preterm birth A/Professor Philippa Middleton, Professor Maria Makrides, A/Professor Jo Zhou, Professor Robert Gibson, Dr Andrew McPhee, Dr Lisa Yelland Women's & Children's Hospital Foundation
Domestic, not for profit
$54,000.00
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  • Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2019 Co-Supervisor Folate and metabolized folic acid in pregnant women and their association with allergic diseases and DNA methylation Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Dian Caturini Sulistyoningrum
    2016 Co-Supervisor Early life factors influencing the infant gut microbiota development Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Chloe Alexandra Douglas
  • Position: Affiliate Senior Lecturer
  • Phone: 0881284404
  • Email: karen.best@adelaide.edu.au
  • Campus: North Terrace West
  • Building: SAHMRI, floor 7
  • Org Unit: Paediatrics and Reproductive Health

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