Research within SPANZA Community

Research within the SPANZA Community

The past 10 years has seen research in Paediatric Anaesthesia expand substantially in our region, with SPANZA focussing particularly on collaboration and networking.  Our policy is of open information exchange between members to prevent duplication and improve cooperation between researchers.

The research subcommittee is currently chaired by Dr Fiona Taverner, based at the Flinders Medical Centre, Adelaide. We manage the scientific content of the annual meetings, including the free papers and abstracts, and handle the SPANZA research grant process, amongst other things.

SPANZA and the research subcommittee would like to particularly focus on providing support to new investigators lacking in local support. Anyone needing advice on paediatric anaesthesia research can contact Justin, or anyone else in the subcommittee for help.

SPANZA Research Subcommittee Members

 Member  E-mail  Site  Research link
 Prof Andrew Davidson  Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne
 Dr Paul Lee-Archer  Queensland Children’s Hospital,  Brisbane

Dr Shannon Morrison Queensland Children’s Hospital,  Brisbane
 A/Prof Justin Skowno  The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Sydney
 Dr Fiona Taverner Flinders Medical Centre, Adelaide
Dr Maryann Turner The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Sydney
 Prof Britta von Ungern Sternberg  Perth Children’s Hospital, Perth Child and Adolescent Health Service | CAHS – Department of Anaesthesia and Pain Medicine

Perioperative Medicine (


Current Collaborative Projects

TREX – Randomized controlled trial comparing standard dose sevoflurane vs low dose sevoflurane, remifentanil and dexmedetomidine for neurodevelopmental outcomes– RCH (lead), CHW, PCH, QCH, SCH

HAMSTER – High flow nasal oxygen during elective airway surgery – QCH (lead), RCH, PCH, CHW, WCH

Multicentre EEG – Multinational observational study of EEG characteristics in neonate and infants. Global Lead is the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, CHW (local lead), RCH

MSD Sugammadex – Phase 4 industry study of sugammadex pharmacokinetics and comparison with neostigmine reversal. RCH (local lead), CHW, PCH, QCH

CHEWY – A multi-centre randomized non-inferiority trial of chewing gum versus ondansetron to treat postoperative nausea and vomiting in female patients after breast or laparoscopic surgery. RCH, PCH.


Research Group Summaries


Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne

The Anaesthesia and Pain Management Research Group is based within the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and led by Professor Andrew Davidson, who is also Medical Director of the Melbourne Children’s Trials Centre. The team includes Suzette Sheppard (Research Coordinator), Melissa Doyle (Research Assistant) and Dr Bae Corlette (PhD student).

Our group specialises in large international paediatric trials and led the first large international paediatric anaesthesia RCT (The GAS Trial).

Current areas of interest include:

    • Anaesthesia and the developing brain (THE TREX Trial)
    • Pharmacokinetics of local anaesthetic agents
    • CVAD studies
    • EEG and anaesthesia in the neonate
    • Anaesthesia and the difficult airway

We have dedicated trial coordinators experienced in peri-operative trials in children and neuropsychologists experienced in neurodevelopmental assessments in children. We have PhD students and support several clinician researchers.


Perth Children’s Hospital (PCH)

The PCH Anaesthesia and Pain Management Research team is led by Professor Britta Regli-von Ungern-Sternberg, Chair of Paediatric Anaesthesia at the University of Western Australia.   Our research program includes multicentre randomised controlled trials and interventional studies across several streams.

    • Enhancing prediction and prevention strategies to improve perioperative outcomes
    • Gaining knowledge of respiratory physiological changes during anaesthesia
    • Reducing postoperative pain in children
    • Protecting Babies’ Brains
    • Making safe and palatable medicines available for children

Dr David Sommerfield is a Consultant Anaesthetist and Complex Pain Specialist working alongside Britta as a clinician-researcher.  The team consists of a Clinical Research Manager (Ms Lliana Slevin) and Study Coordinator (Aine Sommerfield PhD) as well as a Research Officer (Elisa Robey PhD) and 6 FTE research assistants (Julie Nguyen, Amelia Teo, Emily Bell, Megan Dodd, Zaheerah Haywood, Natalie Anderson). Also involved are Thomas Drake-Drockman as a junior research fellow and Dr Mon Ohn, a Respiratory and Sleep Paediatrician.


The Children’s Hospital at Westmead (CHW), Sydney

The Children’s Perioperative Laboratory (ChiPLab) is led by Associate Professor Justin Skowno, supported by our two full-time research staff members, Dr Minal Menezes (Senior Research Officer) and Ms Dorothy Tse (Research Assistant).

Local research and areas of expertise includes:

    • Brain monitoring (NIRS/EEG) including cytochrome sensing and oximetry.
    • High resolution physiological data set acquisition and processing
    • Virtual reality in the perioperative period
    • Data science in anaesthesia
    • Genetics of malignant hyperthermia

We work together with other national and international centres on a range of trials in these and other areas.


Starship Children’s Health Auckland

Our department supports has no funded researcher staff. Most activity is through the University of Auckland under the guidance of Associate Prof Paul Baker and Professor Brian Anderson

    • We have specific local expertise in PKPD modelling of anaesthesia/analgesic drugs (Prof Brian Anderson) and of matters related to the airway (A/Prof Paul Baker). Detail are available on the university webpage


Queensland Children’s Hospital

Research in our department is led by Dr Paul Lee-Archer and Dr Susan Humphreys. We have local expertise in the use of high-flow nasal oxygen in paediatric anaesthesia, post-operative behavioural and quality of recovery measurement and the use of wearable technology in anaesthesia. We are part of the Paediatric Critical Care Research Group that has a team of researchers, data scientists and statisticians.


South Australia

Research in South Australia is led by Dr Fiona Taverner and Dr Laura Burgoyne.  We are a motivated group committed to improving outcomes in paediatric anaesthesia through research, audit and practice change with multicentre collaboration.  We work across the paediatric tertiary hospital Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Adelaide and the mixed tertiary hospital Flinders Medical Centre.  We currently have two part time research co-ordinators, Ms Emma King at WCH and Ms Susan Rattigan at FMC.

We are involved in several collaborative projects including the Hamster trial, TREX and the upcoming SARS-COV-2 seroprevalence study.  Our single centre projects include Fast, Feed and Wrap for neonatal PICC insertion, pharmacokinetics of topical local anaesthesia, iron supplementation prior to major surgery in children and post tonsillectomy analgesia. Dr Allan Cyna has a special interest in the areas of informed consent, hypnosis and communication.


Last updated June 2020.