Meet Dr Daniella Susic

Meet Dr Daniella Susic

Daniella Susic, or Dani as she likes to be called, is one of our first Microbiome Research Centre’s PhD Students. Dani is undertaking her PhD in the Maternal and Child Health theme under the joint supervision of Professor E El-Omar and Dr Amanda Henry.

Dani is in her 5th year of training through the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) and her first Fellowship Year. She is passionate about her role caring for women and their children but yearns to understand more about the reasons behind the significant problems that so many mothers face. Dani hopes to unlock some of the important questions and that is why she decided to combine her busy clinical role with a full-time research program.

Daniella Susic grew up in the suburb of Coogee attending Maroubra Junction Primary School and then Randwick Girls High. She always wanted to become a doctor and completed her medical degree at the University of Newcastle, graduating in 2009. In 2010 she undertook her internship at RPA and continued with her residency in 2011. In 2012 she became a Senior Resident in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Royal Hospital for Women in Randwick and commenced her training with the RANZCOG in 2013. This integrated program took her to Tamworth, Wollongong and St George Hospital.

Dani is now a Clinical Research Fellow at St George Hospital. In 2018 she enrolled in a PhD and will be combining clinical obstetrics and gynaecology with her research program.

She is working with Dr Amanda Henry and her team on MUMS – Microbiome Understanding in Maternity Study, a study that is looking at the role of the microbiome during pregnancy. This is a patient-based cohort study which will recruit 100 mothers and infant pairs to undergo a comprehensive analysis of their microbiome at key points throughout their pregnancy and for the months following childbirth. Already 35 women have committed to the study.

“While we know that the mother’s microbiome changes throughout pregnancy as yet there has not been a comprehensive study on these changes in the different populations of microbiome (oral, vaginal and faecal)” said Dani. “I am honoured to be working with the stellar team in the MRC and hope that in time, our findings will assist in the protection of mums from short and long-term risks associated pregnancy like preeclampsia and lifelong cardiovascular disease”. “I have vivid memories of attending to a woman at 2 am during a night shift, who was on the cusp of having a seizure because of preeclampsia. While we are very good at managing these clinical situations and keeping women safe, we still lack understanding of certain elements that may contribute to the driving forces behind why it happens in the first place” she added.

Dani is also a mother, Abigail who is just three years old inspires her every day. While Dani experienced a very normal pregnancy, labour and delivery and continued to breastfeed Abigail until she was three, Abigail suffers from serious anaphylactic allergies to peanuts, eggs and white fish. She also has severe eczema and asthma. Dani is hoping that MUMS may offer some clues as to why some children suffer from allergies.

And how does she manage to juggle her time? “Yes, life is very busy, and it is sometimes a bit of a struggle to balance my professional responsibilities with those of being a wife and mum. Luckily, Abigail loves attending the Lorikeet Early Learning Centre at St George Hospital and my husband and immediate family are very supportive. Not to mention my supervisor’s Dr Amanda Henry who is an inspiration to me and completed her PhD with two children and Prof Emad El-Omar, a world-leading gastroenterologist who has six!”

If you are currently less than 13 weeks pregnant and will have antenatal care through St George Hospital and are interested in participating in MUMS please contact Dani via email mumsmicrobiome@gmail.com