Professor Dr Claire Roberts

Lloyd Cox Professorial Research Fellow, University of Adelaide, Australia

“I had my babies before I ever got into science. My first baby sadly died - he had a major heart defect called hypoplastic left heart syndrome. It’s many years ago now, in fact, 36 years ago. At that time, the obstetric ultrasound resolution was poor, so they could not detect these abnormalities. That meant that we were totally oblivious to this problem, and even after he was born, he seemed quite normal. After three days he became hypoxic, and a day later they worked out what was wrong with him and told us that he had this massive heart defect that they couldn’t do anything about. They took him off life support and it took about a day for him to die after that. It was devastating and totally unexpected – I felt like I had done everything right when I was pregnant, but they called it polygenic inheritance. I have since gone on and had two girls who are now 35 and 34, who have their own children. I think that experience really drove my passion to do something in human reproduction, to help other women (and men) who have problems, and also to hopefully prevent them in the first place.”