Free public forum on female fertility and pregnancy

Women’s health, fertility and pregnancy experts will share the latest research discoveries and explain how to achieve a health pregnancy. This free public forum on 12 September at Hudson Institute of Medical Research will include the art installation ‘The Biggest Placenta in the World.’ | REGISTER HERE

Who should attend?

Professor Kate Loveland said, “This forum will be for anyone who is interested in the latest information on fertility and supporting a healthy pregnancy.

“Led by Dr Jemma Evans, four leading reproductive health scientists and clinicians will be sharing their latest developments in fertility and pregnancy, while artist Bec Vandyk will be on hand to speak about her inspiration for creating The Biggest Placenta in the World,” she said.

People who attend may be

  • Pregnant or planning to conceive and interested in finding out about preparing for and supporting a healthy pregnancy
  • Planning on, or currently undergoing, IVF and wanting to know what research is underway to improve female fertility
  • Interested in developments in science and medical research.

The forum is proudly supported by the Centre for Reproductive Health, a research centre at Hudson Institute of Medical Research.

What is the Biggest Placenta in the World?

The 150 kg, 0.7-metre-deep, three-metre wide artwork, The Biggest Placenta in the World, will be on display at Hudson Institute during the forum.

Artist Bec Vandyk created the work to raise awareness of the crucial role that the placenta plays in a baby’s healthy development and the risks to developing infants when a placenta isn’t functioning.

The work was created by 20 dedicated women from regional Victoria who worked together for two and half years to knit the placenta out of 900 second-hand t-shirts.


IVF fertility expert Professor Beverley Vollenhoven will give an overview on pregnancy from a clinician’s perspective. Her talk will include the questions women/couples should ask when they are planning or going through the early stages of pregnancy as well as advice on where to get good information. She will also be talking about how research has guided her clinical practice.

Dr Jemma Evans‘ presentation will share why the environment within the womb is critical for fertility and pregnancy success and how to optimise it for the health of mother and baby.

Dr Nicole Kellow will talk about how nutrition affects fertility. Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are harmful compounds that are formed when protein or fat combine with sugar in the bloodstream. AGEs can also form in foods that have been exposed to high temperatures, including by grilling, frying or toasting. Her talk will explain how AEGs impact fertility and that fertility may be improved by reducing AGEs in the diet.

Professor Guiying Nie and Ms Mary Mansilla will be presenting a talk called ‘The placenta: the most critical organ in your life’: covering the essential nature of the placenta in supporting the baby and how the ‘good guy’ turns villain in pregnancy complications.

What will attendees get out of coming to this event?

Professor Loveland said, “We hope to share with people the information they need to make good choices in fertility and pregnancy.

“In addition to the presentations, a panel discussion will provide the opportunity to ask the presenters questions.

“Attendees will also have the opportunity to chat with the speakers and event hosts one-on-one before and after the presentations,” she said.

Why is Hudson Institute holding this event?

Professor Loveland said, “We are at the cutting edge of pregnancy and fertility research. We want to share our discoveries and insights so our community can use them to make good choices before and during pregnancy.”

Dr Jemma Evans said, “Attendees will have the opportunity to guide our research questions and to learn how we address issues of importance to patients and families.”

<em>Artist Bec Vandyk's knitted installation 'The Biggest Placenta in the World'</em>
Artist Bec Vandyk’s ‘The Biggest Placenta in the World’

The placenta: a complex and underappreciated organ

Dr Evans said, “Artist Bec Vandyk has created The Biggest Placenta in the World to help women understand and celebrate this essential organ.

“We are honoured that Hudson Institute has the opportunity to display it,” she said.

Speaking on her artwork, Ms Vandyk said, “For women seeking to become pregnant, it is so important that they have an awareness of their fertility and how it relates to their expectations about their menstrual cycle, pregnancy and birthing.

“Visually understanding the incredible function of implantation and placental development through images and tactile models can enable a much deeper understanding.

“We need to portray women’s blood without the stigma of a lack of purity and lack of cleanliness. Other cultures have a deeper respect for the work of the placenta, some even describing it as a twin or sibling.

“It would be good to see a cross-cultural learning take place in Australian society; learning from other cultures, and from the Indigenous people who also had deep respect for the placenta and its role in tying a newborn to the land,” she said.

Forum info

Let’s talk! The science of reproduction will be hosted 5.30 – 7 pm on Thursday 12 September.

The event will be located Hudson Institute of Medical Research, Seminar rooms 1&2 of the Translational Research Facility, 45 Kanooka Grove, Clayton (Adjacent to Monash Medical Centre).

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