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Dr Angela Ratsch - Queensland Advancing Clinical Research Fellowship recipient

Image of Dr Angela Ratsch

Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service Director of Research Education, Development and Support Dr Angela Ratsch was shocked, in a good way, to learn she had been awarded a $300,000 Queensland Advancing Clinical Research Fellowship grant to further her research.

A lover of all aspects of research, even the paperwork, Angela will map the tobacco and nicotine exposure patterns in pregnant Australian Indigenous women, establish the pharmacokinetics, pharmacogenomics, biomarkers for chronic illness, and maternal and perinatal outcomes based on that exposure.

“In the Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service, the rate of smoking in pregnancy is still high, including by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who can still face social, peer and family pressures to continue the use of tobacco,” she said.

“We’ve known for many years that smoking in pregnancy has a range of adverse outcomes for the mother and baby in the short, medium and long term.”

“However, pregnancy related research has not kept pace with the ever-increasing range and availability of novel nicotine and tobacco products, for example e-cigarettes and nicotine mists and lozenges – many of which women swap in during pregnancy to replace cigarette use.”

“In addition, we don’t understand how these products impact at the genome level for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.  This Fellowship is targeted at understanding the effects of these products in pregnancy and improving the health outcomes of mothers and their babies.”

The research is co-designed with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Services and international and national academics and scientific experts.

Dr Ratsch will collaborate with Galangoor Duwalami Primary Healthcare Service, The Poche Centre for Indigenous Health at the University of Sydney, NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Stillbirth and The University of Queensland.


Angela is a Queensland born registered nurse and midwife with a specific interest in how pre- and intra-uterine exposures impact the life-time health outcomes of the offspring.  Angela spent many years in the Northern Territory where she undertook Doctoral studies through The University of Queensland examining the impact of chewing wild tobacco (pituri) on remote Indigenous maternal and perinatal outcomes. Her findings form the basis for the current study which extends into urban and rural Indigenous maternal populations.  Angela is currently the Director of Research at the Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service.
The Queensland Advancing Clinical Research Fellowships (CRF) program delivers on a key commitment by Queensland Health in the Queensland Advancing Health Research 2026 Strategy, “to design, develop and fund new fellowships programs with a clear focus on translation into clinical practice and improved health outcomes”. Open to Queensland Health doctors, nurses, dentists, allied health practitioners and clinical scientists, the program recognises that clinician researchers are uniquely placed to identify clinical issues that can benefit from further research, lead patient focussed research discoveries and facilitate improved patient care through research translation.
Last updated: 23 April 2021