Reproductive Biology, The University of Melbourne

Dr Hannan’s research focuses on how a healthy pregnancy is established, particularly understanding the remarkable interactions between embryo and the lining of the womb. Factors produced by the lining of the womb encourage the embryo to attach and form the placenta, a specialised organ that connects the embryo to the womb and to the mother’s blood supply, allowing transport of nutrients and oxygen between the mother and the developing foetus.

Although this incredible biological process is vital for life, it is poorly understood. Approximately one in seven Australian couples are infertile; half of this is due to the female partner. Furthermore, three quarters of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) attempts will fail, largely due to the embryo’s failure to implant into the mother’s uterus. Dr Hannan’s work will help this problem.

Her communication skills have provided her with the opportunity to take part in the ASMR Regional Outreach Tours of Victoria, promoting science in schools, and she has spoken to students and teachers at the Melbourne Museum and at various schools around Melbourne.