Dr Max Berry in the Wellington NICU

Dr Max Berry is a consultant neonatologist who works in the Wellington Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and also a Senior Lecturer in Paediatric Health for the University of Otago (Wellington) The Little Miracles Trust is proud to have supported the research of Dr Berry and her team since 2013.  Below is an update provided by her and the team on the incredible, world leading research being undertaken right here in New Zealand.  

Update – Ryan Sixtus
Ryan Sixtus, who The Little Miracles Trust supported for the 1st year of his PhD with a scholarship, was awarded a Heart Foundation (PhD) postgraduate scholarship worth $52,000 to cover the next 2 years of his study for his research into premature birth and its relationship to later-life cardiovascular disease. With the extra support provided along with his stipend from The Little Miracles Trust, Ryan attended training in Australia in order to learn how to perform in depth analysis of the signals we record at the bedside using the equipment The Little Miracles Trust have supported with – ECG, blood pressure, respiration, pulse oximetry.

Ryan presented an update last year at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Perinatal Society of New Zealand on why “Microcirculation Matters” – this was based on work funded by The Neonatal Trust, highlighting the importance of the maintenance of the smallest, and often overlooked component of the cardiovascular system. Ryan is looking at how the microvasculature contributes to compromise both in the early newborn period, and as our ex-preterms grow up (& are known to be at risk for cardiovascular disease). The Little Miracles Trust has assisted in providing critical equipment for these studies, including the 2 x laser Doppler probes which are used to measure microvascular flow. These studies are currently underway.

Over the last year, we have been purchasing this equipment and establishing our protocols for studying the cardiovascular system. Ryan is working on a two manuscripts which will be submitted to academic journals publishing these protocols. He is also presenting one of these protocols at the Australian and New Zealand Microcirculation Society Annual Meeting in September.

Also, we have recently finished our first round of a separate study. This was supported by the equipment grants, and also supported by the purchase of iSTAT cartridges by The Little Miracles Trust. This allows us to perform parts of a comprehensive cardiac panel (further tests will be conducted using other techniques to give more markers). We will be busy analysing these results for the next few weeks, and will give you an update soon! Ryan will be presenting these results in October at the Fetal & Neonatal Physiological Society meeting.

Update – Dr Bec Dyson 
Dr Bec Dyson, Research Fellow with the PDP was invited to present the group’s work at the Federation of the Asian and Oceanian Physiological Societies Congress, held in Kobe, Japan (March 2019). The symposium was hosted by the Physiological Society of New Zealand and entitled “The consequences of preterm birth, intrauterine growth restriction and hypoxia-ischemia”.

Her presentation “A vessel’s a vessel, no matter how small: microvascular tone regulation in the preterm neonate” highlighted the clinical and pre-clinical work the group is doing investigating cardiovascular dysfunction following preterm birth, and their efforts to understand and hopefully prevent this. The Little Miracles Trust is proud to have supported the purchase of specialist probes for these studies.

Another project which is currently being worked on, and also supported by The Neonatal Trust, is assessing the epigenetic profile of the ex-preterm individual.  The objective is to see if this can help to understand why ex-preterms are at a greater risk of cardiometabolic disease. Cardiometabolic syndrome (CMS) is a combination of metabolic dysfunctions mainly characterized by insulin resistance, impaired glucose tolerance, dyslipidemia, hypertension, and central adiposity.


Previous articles and content featuring the work of Dr Max Berry and her team:

Dr Max Berry QuoteNeonatal brain blood flow research update

Dr Max Berry in video regarding developing enquiring minds and interest in science

Dr Max Berry – Neonatal reserach update

The Little Miracles Trust and ICAP support Dr Max Berrys work


The Little Miracles Trust is proud to support researchThe Little Miracles Trust is proud to have provided funding to Dr Max Berry and her team’s research efforts since 2013. The work is already making a difference in the current care of neonatal babies and importantly it promises to provide further insights to help many future babies.  

The funding of the research is entirely consistent with The Little Miracles Trust’s objective ‘to aid neonatal-related medical research’.
In addition, as the clinical changes are introduced and also as part of general business, new equipment may be required. The Little Miracles Trust’s funding of equipment for NICUs allows for the ongoing and enhanced care and monitoring of neonatal babies. Some of this equipment support is achieved with the help of Corporate and Grant Partners and it’s our privilege to work with them to facilitate and manage this fundraising and the subsequent puchases.