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Obstetrics and Gynaecology
The University of Adelaide
SA 5005

Telephone: +61 8 8313 5100
Facsimile: +61 8 8313 4099

Vicki Clifton

Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology

Contact information


Other Senior Appointments

 NHMRC Senior Research Fellow
 Director of Research: Lyell McEwin Hospital
 President Elect: Endocrine society of Australia
 Executive Council Member: International Federation of the Placental Associations
 Conjoint Appointment: University of Newcastle, NSW
 Board member: Asthma South Australia

Research Interests

I have a strong background in fetal growth, reproductive endocrinology and placental physiology. My research has examined aspects of placental and myometrial function. My research interests have evolved into an investigation of those factors that program fetal development and neonatal adaptation, particularly in the areas of cardiovascular adaptation and neonatal immune development.

Asthma is the most common complication experienced by women during pregnancy. In our ongoing work, we are studying pregnancies complicated by asthma to understand how inflammation affects pregnancy outcomes. Our results have been startling, identifying an important sex dependent difference in the fetal growth response to maternal asthma. The results have been recognised both internationally and nationally, with publications in the asthma and obstetric literature and reviews in leading journals. Clinically our studies have demonstrated that asthmatic women require extra care during their pregnancies. Scientifically this work has started to create a picture of what sex specific factors are involved in preterm delivery and fetal development in pathological pregnancies. More recently we have found that the sex specific differences in fetal growth in pregnancies complicated by asthma are also present in pregnancies complicated by pre-eclampsia and in pregnancies that deliver preterm. Our ongoing work will further research these mechanisms.


My research interests have been extended through collaborations with leading researchers both internationally (Canada; Poland) and nationally (Hunter Medical Research Institute and the University of Newcastle). This research includes assessment of dietary factors that impact upon maternal asthma in pregnancy, identification of novel proteins that are expressed in the placenta that may contribute to altered placental function in women with asthma and pre-eclampsia, as well as animal modelling of gestational infection.

Staff, students and current research projects




Assoc Prof Vicki Clifton

Research Leader


Dr Nicolette Hodyl

Post Doctoral Researcher

  1. Placental immune responses in asthma
  2. Neonatal immune development following maternal complications during pregnancy

Dr Annette Osei-Kumah

Post Doctoral Researcher

  1. Mechanisms of how placental factors influence maternal asthma
  2. Identification of sex-specific placental proteins using proteomics

Dr Michael Stark

Post Doctoral Researcher
Clinical Neonatologist

    1. Oxidative stress in preterm infants
    2. Microvascular adaptation in preterm infants

Dr Nayana Parange


Post Doctoral Researcher


    1. Cardiovascular adaptations in the fetus
        in complicated pregnancies


Penelope McLernon PhD student
  1. Dietary factors and inflammation in pregnancy
Paul Fogarty PhD student
  1. Maternal dietary iodine and thyroid function in pregnancy and its impact on cognitive development in children

Pratiti Nath


Research Assistant 

Recent Key Publications (last 3 years)

Clifton VL, Hodyl NA, Murphy VE, Giles WB, Baxter RC & Smith R (in press). Effect of maternal asthma, inhaled glucocorticoids and cigarette use during pregnancy on the newborn insulin-like growth factor axis. Growth Hormone and IGF Research

NM Scott N.A Hodyl, VE Murphy, A Osei-Kumah, H Wyper, D M Hodgson, R Smith, VL Clifton. (2009) Placental cytokine expression co-varies with maternal asthma severity and fetal sex J. Immunol 2009 Feb 1;182(3):1411-20.

Stark, Michael, Clifton VL, Wright IMR (2009) Carbon Monoxide Is A Significant Mediator Of Cardiovascular Status Following Preterm Birth And May Contribute To Excess Male Deaths. Pediatrics 124(1):277-84

Michael J. Stark, Vicki L. Clifton, Ian M.R. Wright (2009) Neonates Born to Mothers With Preeclampsia Exhibit Sex-Specific Alterations in Microvascular Function. Pediatric Research 65(3):292-5.

Thi T. Vu, Jonathan J Hirst1, Michael Stark, Ian M. R.Wright, Hannah K. Palliser, Nicolette Hodyl, and Vicki L Clifton. (2009) Changes in placental 5α-reductase isoenzyme expression with advancing gestation: effects of fetal sex and glucocorticoid exposure. Reproduction, Fertility and Development 21(4):599-607

Stark MJ, Wright IM, Clifton VL. (2009) Sex Specific Alterations in Placental 11β-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenase 2 Activity and Early Postnatal Clinical Course Following Antenatal Betamethasone. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2009 Jun 17. [Epub ahead of print]

Mayhew T, Jenkins H, Todd B and Clifton VL (2008) Maternal asthma and placental morphometry: effects of severity, treatment and fetal sex. Placenta 29: 366-73

Stark, MJ., Clifton, VL., Wright, IMR (2008) Sex specific differences in peripheral microvascular blood flow in preterm infants. Pediatric Research 63: 415-9

Stark, MJ., Clifton, VL., Wright, IMR (2008) Microvascular flow, clinical illness severity and cardiovascular function in the preterm infant. Archives in Childhood Disease 93:F271-4

Engel, P.J, Smith, R., Brinsmead, M.W., Bowe, S.J and Clifton, V. L (2008) Male sex and pre-existing diabetes are independent risk factors for stillbirth Aust New Zealand J Obstet Gynaecol 48: 375-83

Johnson RF, Rennie N, Murphy V, Zakar T, Clifton V, Smith R.(2008) Expression of Glucocorticoid Receptor mRNA Transcripts in the Human Placenta at Term. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 93(12):4887-93.

Hodyl NA, Krivanek KM, Clifton VL, Hodgson DM. (2008) Innate immune dysfunction in the neonatal rat following prenatal endotoxin exposure. J Neuroimmunol 15;204(1- 2):126-30.

Osei-Kumah A, Smith R, Clifton VL. (2008) Maternal and cord plasma cytokine and chemokine profile in pregnancies complicated by asthma. Cytokine. 2008 Aug;43(2):187-93.

Hodyl, N.A, Walker, FR., Krivanek, KN., Clifton, VL., Hodgson, DM. (2007) Modelling prenatal bacterial infection; functional consequences of altered HPA development. Behav Brain Res. 178(1):108-14.

VL Clifton, Andrew Bisits, Paweł K. Zarzycki (2007) Characterization of human fetal cord blood steroid profiles in relation to fetal sex and mode of delivery using temperature-dependent inclusion chromatography and principal component analysis (PCA) J Chromatogr B Analyt Technol Biomed Life Sci. 855(2):249-54.

Hodyl NA, Krivanek KM, Lawrence E, Clifton VL and Hodgson DM (2007) Prenatal exposure to a pro-inflammatory stimulus causes delays in immune maturation in the offspring Journal of Neuroimmunology 190(1-2):61-71.

Tolosa, J.M., Schjenken, J.E., Civiti, T.D., Clifton, V.L. and Smith, R. (2007) A column based method to simultaneously extract DNA, RNA and protein from the same sample. Biotechniques. 43:799-804.

Murphy VE, Johnson RF, Wang YC Akinsanya K, Gibson PG, Smith R, Clifton VL 2006 Proteomic study of plasma proteins in pregnant women with asthma. Respirology 11:41-8.

Clifton VL, Rennie N, Murphy VE 2006 Effect of inhaled glucocorticoid treatment on placental 11beta hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 2 activity and neonatal birth weight in pregnancies complicated by asthma. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 46:136-40

Zarzycki PK, Kulhanek KM, Smith R, Clifton VL 2006 Determination of steroids in human plasma using temperature-dependent inclusion chromatography for metabolomic investigations. J Chromatogr A 1104:203-8.

Murphy VE, Fittock R, Zarzycki P, Delahunty M, Smith R, Clifton VL 2007 Metabolism of synthetic steroids by the human placenta. Placenta 28:39-46.

Stark MJ, Dierkx L, Clifton VL and Wright IMR 2006 Alterations in the maternal peripheral response in pregnancies complicated by preeclampsia and the impact of fetal sex. Journal of the Society of Gynecologic Investigation 13:573-578.


Osei-Kumah, A, Hodyl, NA and Clifton VL (2008) Proteomics in Asthma Expert Rev in Clin Immunol 4: (in press, Sept 2008).

Murphy VE, Clifton VL, Gibson PG 2006 Asthma exacerbations during pregnancy: incidence and association with adverse pregnancy outcomes. Thorax 61:169-76. Impact Factor=5.04

Murphy VE, Smith R, Giles WB, Clifton VL 2006 Endocrine regulation of human fetal growth: the role of the mother, placenta and fetus. Endocr Rev 27:141-169.

Clifton VL 2006 (invited review) Maternal asthma during pregnancy and fetal outcomes: potential mechanisms and possible solutions. Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol 6: 306-11.

Book Chapters
Murphy, V.E., Smith, R., Giles, W.B and Clifton V.L. 2006 The role of the mother, placenta, and fetus in the control of fetal growth during human pregnancy IN "Perinatal Programming: Early Life Determinants of Adult Health and Disease", eds D Hodgson and C. Coe. p 3-17 Taylor and Francis, UK.