Core Group & Management Committee

You can read aboit COST Action IS1405 management committee on the COST Action website here.

Below is a details of the Core Group and Management Committee and their roles on the project.

Managment Committee

soo downe

Professor Soo Downe
University of Central Lancashire
Disciplinary background: Midwifery

Soo worked for 15 years as a clinical midwife before joining the UK University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) in 2001, where she is now the Professor of Midwifery Studies.

Her research focus is the nature of, and cultures around, normal birth. She is particularly interested in the potential for unique insights from inter-disciplinary examination of the nature of physiological labour and birth from a wide range of perspectives.

Among other funded projects, Soo chaired the recent COST Action IS1907 (iR4B), and she currently chairs EU COST Action IS1405 (BIRTH). She introduced the concepts of salutogenesis and complexity into midwifery in her edited book on normal childbirth in 2004.

Soo is a member of the executive group for the recent Lancet Series on Midwifery, of the steering group of the current Lancet Series on Stillbirth, and of the WHO Technical Working Group on antenatal guidelines. She has used a wide range of methods in her research, from randomised controlled trials to Action Research and phenomenology.

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Ramón Escuriet
Directorate for Planning and Health Research of the Ministry of Health of the Government of Catalonia 

Currently working in the Directorate for Planning and Health Research of the Ministry of Health of the Government of Catalonia in Spain. He coordinates the Program for normal birth care in public hospitals in the region. His work implies a wide range of activities aimed to improve health care quality in the health system.

Ramon recently completed a PhD in Biomedicine (see below).

Working Group Leaders

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Mechthild M Gross
Hannover Medical School
Disciplinary background: Midwifery

Mechthild holds a degree in nursing and midwifery, a Masters degree in psychology, a PhD, and a postdoctoral thesis (Habilitation). Since 1989 she has been involved in research and clinical practice in midwifery. In collaboration with the German Midwifery Association she has organised annual research workshops for midwives in Germany for nearly 20 years.

She has been head of the European Master of Science in Midwifery at Hannover Medical School since its inception in 2009. At present she is the principal investigator for the German part of the OptiBIRTH-study which aims to improve the organisation of maternal health service delivery, and optimising childbirth, by increasing vaginal birth after caesarean section through enhanced women-centred care in Germany. Previous research projects (grants from the German Research Council, the European Union, and the Scientific Ministry of North-Rhine Westphalia) included cascades of interventions, duration of labour.

Mechthild is a founding member of the International Early Labour Research Group and served as a vice president of the German Society of Midwifery Science (DGHWi) for several years.

She has been the vice chair of the COST Action IS0907: Childbirth Cultures, Concerns, and Consequences: Creating a Dynamic EU Framework for Optimal Maternity Care.

Mechthild is based in a clinical environment at a tertiary university hospital and continues to practice as a midwife twice a week, while also holding editorial and reviewing commitments for various medical and midwifery journals and supervising PhD students.

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Olga Gouni
Cosmoanelixis, Prenatal & Life Sciences
Disciplinary background: Prenatal psychology

Olga has studied Law at the Kapodistrian University, Athens, Greece but she continued her studies exploring the prenatal aspects of our human experience getting a professional specialization in Whole-Self Prenatal Psychology.

This is the field she has devoted her energy. For the last almost 20 years she has been running cosmoanelixis, which under the new legal status offers post-graduate and professional education in the field of Prenatal & Life Sciences both online and on site.

She is the president of the Hellenic Association for Prenatal & Perinatal Psychology and Medicine, NGO, Athens, Greece. She has published 2 books and has written a number of articles & papers.

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Professor Dr. Claudia Meier Magistretti
Lucerne University for Applied Sciences and Arts Lucerne, Switzerland
Disciplinary background: Health and clinical Psychology, Public Health

Claudia is Director of Research at the Lucerne University for Applied Sciences and Arts (Department of Social Work) and specialises in Public Health and Health Promotion research and teaching.

Her main research areas are early life care and education, prevention and health promotion, gender and diversity in health, work place health promotion and health management, effectiveness measurement and evaluation. More here.

ibone olza

Ibone Olza-Fernandez
Childbirth is ours (El Parto es Nuestro)
Disciplinary background: MD, PhD Perinatal Psychiatrist

Ibone’s research has focused on the effects of intrapartum synthetic oxytocin use, perinatal neurobiological disorders and obstetric violence.

She has done extensive clinical work on PTSD due to childbirth, perinatal mental disorders, birth professionals’ mental health and breastfeeding support.

Ibone is also a birth rights activist.

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Deirdre Daly
Trinity College Dublin
Disciplinary background: Midwifery

Deirdre is an Assistant Professor in Midwifery (0.5 WTE) and Project Manager for the OptiBIRTH project (0.5 WTE).

Her research interests include maternal health and morbidity postpartum, urinary incontinence, interventions and birth outcomes. More information on the MAMMI study.

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Dr Lucy Frith
University of Liverpool
Disciplinary background: Bioethics, social science, health services research

Lucy is Senior Lecturer in Bioethics and Social Science at the University of Liverpool. Her research focuses on the social and ethical aspects of health-care decision-making and policy with a particular interest in the theory and practice of combining empirical methods with ethical analysis.

She is interested in organisation culture and the social and ethical implications of developments in epigenetics. She has carried out research on women’s health, pregnancy and childbirth; reproductive technologies (gamete and embryo donation); clinical trials and consent methods; and the use of evidence in practice and policy.

Lucy is empirical ethics section editor of the journal Clinical Ethics and an associate editor for BMC Pregnancy & Childbirth and BMC Medical Ethics. She was a member of the COST Action IS0907 Childbirth cultures, concerns and consequences: creating a dynamic EU framework for optimal maternity care’.

marie-clare balam

Marie-Clare Balaam
University of Central Lancashire
Disciplinary background: History/women’s studies/midwifery researcher

Marie-Clare’s background is in History and Women’s Studies. She has worked as a lecturer and an academic and community based researcher. She currently works as a Research Assistant at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), UK.

Her research interests are migrant women’s experiences of maternity care and childbirth in the UK and Europe, social support and historical and socio-cultural perspectives on women’s health particularly menopause. Her current research is focused on the experiences of asylum seeking and refugee women and social support for marginalised women.

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Anastasia Topalidou
Faculty of Medicine, University of Crete
Disciplinary background: Biomechanics, Bioengineering, Biological Measurements

Anastasia is a biomedical engineer specializing in the fields of orthopaedic biomechanics, musculoskeletal biomechanics, thermal imaging, biosignal processing, clinical engineering, neurophysiological monitoring and analysis and research protocols.

She completed her PhD at University of Crete – Faculty of Medicine. Her PhD Thesis is on the application of a non-invasive technique in the evaluation of postoperative rehabilitation of the spine. In 2010 she received her Master of Science in Health and Human Performance after completing the interdepartmental postgraduate M.Sc. Programme at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. In 2006 she received her Bachelor of Science from the Department of Physical Education and Sports Science, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Anastasia has won numerous scholarships, awards and honors and she has written several chapters in scientific books and peer-reviewed publications. She is an active member of highly active scientific and academic societies.

Her current research interests are: The use of thermal imaging in medical applications, exploration of innovative techniques and methods in the health sector, biomedical signals processing and analysis and e-health.