Fertility Health CRC

The Major Challenge

Australia has one of the highest rates of assisted reproductive technology (ART) usage in the world.  One in every 25 children born in Australia are conceived using some form of ART.

The peri-conceptual period (when the embryo is formed and implantation occurs) is crucial not just for establishing pregnancy, but also for setting the life-course health of the child.  Many later onset diseases and conditions of the metabolic, immune and neurological system in children and adults are now understood to originate in early life, and to be linked to events around the time of conception.

The incidence of chlamydial sexually transmitted infections (STI) has increased more than four-fold in Australia in the last decade and currently there are 10 new cases each hour. The cost of this to the Australian community is significant with chlamydial infections costing in excess of $140 million per annum.  Apart from the financial cost, chlamydial infection increases the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) by 25-250%, and directly affects both female and male fertility. Alarmingly, treatment failure rates are increasing. 

Optimal reproductive and sexual health is a fundamental aspect of both positive self-identity and of the key component to quality of life, the enjoyment of social relationships.  Australia's abortion rates are higher than in comparable high-income countries.  Unplanned pregnancy can be effectively prevented by contraception yet Australian women are amongst the lowest users worldwide of the most efficacious and cost-effective long acting reversible contraception (LARC) methods.

Fertility and reproductive health are at the centre of Australia's social and economic future.  Increasingly governments are looking to find efficiencies in budgets, especially health budgets, while Australians are looking for optimal reproductive and sexual health. 

The Fertility Health CRC will provide a coordinated approach to understanding the complexity inter-relationships between sexually transmitted infections (STIs), peri-conception health and pregnancy planning, infertility and assisted reproductive technology (ART) and contraception and fertility management will place Australia at the forefront of innovation, commercial opportunities, clinical practice, health promotion, and workforce development, as well as deliver efficiencies for both governments and the private sector.  


Areas of Research Expertise

Fertility Regulation; Gamete Biology; Infertility; Reproductive Science; Reproductive Biology; Reproductive Immunology; Sexually Transmitted Diseases; Vaccines; Andrology; Genetics/epigenetics


Research Themes

Proposed Research Themes

  • Infertility and Assisted Reproductive Technology
  • Peri-conception Health and Pregnancy Planning
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Reproductive Health
  • Contraception and Fertility Management


Anticipated Bid Round

18th Selection Round (2015).



Laureate Professor John Aitken
Pro Vice Chancellor, Health and Medicine
T: +61 2 4985 4466
E: John.Aitken@newcastle.edu.au
Belinda Peden
Research Development Officer
Research Development Unit
T: +61 2 4921 7991
E: Belinda.Peden@newcastle.edu.au