Tommy's Edinburgh research centre

Tommy’s research centre in Edinburgh focuses on understanding and lowering the risks caused by obesity and other stress factors during pregnancy. In the year ending March 2015, Tommy’s research helped the stillbirth rate in Scotland fall to its lowest ever rate.

Its full title is the Edinburgh Tommy’s Centre for Maternal and Fetal Health, and it opened its doors in 2008 as part of the state-of-the-art Queen’s Medical Research Institute.

Since 2011, it has also been a vital part of the Medical Research Council’s Centre for Reproductive Health. Our work here focuses on the impact of obesity in pregnancy, as well as other “stressors” such as depression and inflammation.

In October 2016, we also opened our new “preterm birth clinic ” – the first of its kind in Scotland. Our work has been cited in national clinical guidelines, and Tommy’s researchers sit on bodies that influence clinical practice nationwide. This means that our research directly impacts women across the UK, both through our own clinics and through improving practice guidelines. Over 2017, Tommy’s Edinburgh Centre published over 62 papers in the pregnancy field.

The centre is led by Jane Norman with a team of around 30 dedicated researchers, midwives and support staff.

Research Highlights

The Tommy’s team have been busy! Here are some of our highlights:

- Rates of stillbirth in Scotland fell to an all-time low of 3.2 per 1,000 live births in 2015 from 3.7 per 1,000 the year before.

- Rates of stillbirth in Edinburgh fell from 4.4 to 3.1 per 1,000 after introduction of the AFFIRM intervention, a care package designed to raise awareness of the importance of babies’ movements in the womb.

- In the largest ever placebo-controlled trial of metformin in pregnancy, we found that it is safe to take during pregnancy, but there is no value in treating women who do not have gestational diabetes.

- In 2017, we published a paper in the BMJ which showed that obese pregnant women who attended our clinic had significantly lower rates of stillbirth compared to BMI-matched women who did not attend.

Read more about the research taking place at our Edinburgh centre.

Current research projects

Completed research projects

Professor Jane Norman is to be congratulated for developing an outstanding and cohesive team that tracks the biological and clinical consequences of maternal-placental-fetal ‘stressors’ as they present as pregnancy complications. The team is multidisciplinary, linking more classical areas of pregnancy research to less-investigated areas such as maternal mental health. The local and global impact is significant and important.

Peer reviewer

Lecture from Professor Jane Norman on pregnancy research in Edinburgh