Professor Megan Galbally

Professor Megan Galbally

Foundation Chair in Perinatal Psychiatry School of Psychology and Exercise Science & School of Medicine, University of Notre Dame, Medical Co-Director, Women’s Health, Genetics and Mental Health King Edward Memorial Hospital.

Chief Investigator F

Professor Megan Galbally is a leading researcher on the impact in pregnancy of pharmacological treatments for mental health disorders. Her work on the risks from treatment informs the management of moderate to severe perinatal mental health disorders and her research has been incorporated into many of the national guidelines including in Australia, UK and Canada.

Top 5 Publications in the last 5 years:

  • Galbally, Watson, van Rossum, Chen, de Kloet, Lewis (2020) The perinatal origins of childhood anxiety disorders and the role of early life maternal predictors. Psychological Medicine.

This reports data from early pregnancy to 4 years of age and highlighted the importance of examining maternal factors pre-conception, pregnancy and in the postnatal period.

  • Galbally, M; van Rossum, Watson, S; de Kloet, R; Lewis, A (2019) Trans-generational stress regulation: mother-infant cortisol, maternal mental health and antidepressants across the perinatal period. Psychoneuroendocrinology. Epub 2019, Jul 29

This study reports the relationship between cortisol (hair and saliva) in mother and infant over pregnancy and postpartum with unique design and linked cortisol response to infant socio-emotional outcomes.

  • Galbally, M; Ryan, J; Watson, S; Spigset, O; Lappas, M; Saffery, R; de Kloet, R; van IJzendoorn, M; Lewis, A. (2018) Oxytocin Receptor Methylation, Maternal Depression and Antidepressant use: Findings from the MPEWS Study. Vol 90, 1-8 Psychoneuroendocrinology This is the first study to report on OXTR methylation in placenta, antidepressant use and perinatal depression.
  • Galbally, M; Crabb, C; Snellen, M. (2018) Designing research that can untangle the effects in pregnancy of pharmacological treatments for mental disorders. Lancet Psychiatry

This was an invited commentary on improving measurement for research on pharmacological treatment in pregnancy for mental health including the importance of cohort studies.

  • Galbally, M; Spigset, O. Johnson A; Kohan, R; Lappas M; Lewis A (2017) Understanding neonatal adaptation following antidepressant use: the role of Neonatal Abstinence Symptom Scale and drug assay levels in the MPEWS study. 82 (5) 806- 813 Pediatric Research.

Featured as a PediPodcast within Pediatric Research. This study is only the 3rd study to have followed up babies with poor neonatal adaptation beyond neonatal period and the only of these follow up studies to also report drug levels.

Career summary: CI Megan Galbally is the Foundation Professor of Perinatal Psychiatry a joint appointment between Murdoch University, University of Notre Dame and King Edward Memorial Hospital in Perth, Western Australia. She is also Medical Co-Director of Women’s Health, Genetics and Mental Health and Director of Psychiatry at King Edward Memorial Hospital (KEMH). Her role at KEMH includes leadership across a diverse portfolio of statewide health services including perinatal mental health services and genetics services and includes clinical, budget and strategic oversight. Megan is currently the National Chair of the Section of Perinatal and Infant Psychiatry, RANZCP, a former President of Australasian Marce Society for Perinatal Mental Health and Board Member of International Marce Society and Secretary for Women’s Health Task Force within the World Federation of Societies of Biological Psychiatry. CI Galbally is also an Adjunct Professor at University of Western Australia and has an honorary appointment at the University of Melbourne. Galbally’s qualifications include MBBS, MPM, PhD and she is a fellow of the Royal Australian College of Psychiatrists. Prof Galbally is a perinatal psychiatrist who has undertaken research and led the development of perinatal service delivery in Australia over the last two decades. Her track record in research in perinatal mental health is also in the context of significant career disruption with primary carer duties resulting in part time employment in an exclusively clinical role from 2005-2016. In addition, during this period she had 2 years of maternity leave (2005 and 2010). This has demonstrated high achievement relative to opportunity.

Contribution to the field of research: Prof Galbally has led a longitudinal pregnancy cohort study to completion: the Victorian Psychotropic Registry (VPR), which followed women from pregnancy until their children until 5 years of age. The VPR study published some of the longest and most robust neuropsychological outcomes of children exposed to antidepressants in pregnancy (Galbally et al. 2015 ANZJP). These findings led to a recent meta-analysis of antidepressant exposure and child motor development in Pediatrics (Grove, Lewis, Galbally, 2018). Currently she leads the Mercy Pregnancy and Emotional Wellbeing Study (MPEWS). MPEWS has already contributed to understanding of antidepressant use in pregnancy on a range of outcomes including: neonatal adaptation (Galbally et al, Ped Res 2017), breastfeeding (Galbally et al. JHL 2018), biological pathways including placental enzyme (Seth et al. 2015) and epigenetic markers (Galbally et al. PNEC, 2018, 2020), as well as infant sleep (Galbally et al. JAff.Dis. 2018), sexual function (Galbally et al. Psych.Med 2018), exercise (Watson et al. JPsychsom. 2018), trauma and parenting stress (Galbally et al. IntJSocPsych. 2019) and cortisol (Galbally et al. PNEC, 2019). Her experience in cohort studies includes as co-lead of a research interest group within both Raine and ORIGINS, member of the Scientific Review Committee, Raine and has published using LSAC data.

Of her publications, 78% are either first or senior author. Galbally’s international reputation and contribution in perinatal psychiatry is also evident by invited sponsored keynotes at national and international conferences to speak on perinatal mental health. These include twice as an invited speaker at the European Congress for Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) in 2012 and 2015. In 2014, invited keynote at the Infant Rhythms of Life Conference, Durham University, UK. In 2016 and 2018 she was an invited speaker by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) and in 2017 a Keynote at an Obstetric Conference at Akita University in Japan. In 2017 Megan was the recipient of the Jon Rampono Medal awarded by Australasian Marce for outstanding contribution to research in perinatal mental health. In 2019 she was an invited keynote for the RANZCP, New Zealand conference and awarded the Dean’s Award for Research Excellence at University of Notre Dame and in 2020 is the Travelling Scholar to the ACT and invited speaker at ECNP on research on psychotropic medication in pregnancy.

Research Support: Prof Galbally has been the successful lead investigator on grants to establish MPEWS in Victoria and WA including a National Priority Research Grant for Perinatal Mental Health Research from beyondblue ($216,587), CIA for 2015 NHMRC Project Grant APP1106823 for MPEWS ($970,795), Spinnaker Foundation Grant to establish recruitment for MPEWS at Fiona Stanley Hospital in WA. ($99,772), in 2018 successful WACHS Collaboration Grant ($267,000) to recruit regional and rural women into the study and a Telethon Perth Children’s Hospital Grant ($240,700). Galbally has been an investigator on additional grants for a range of research projects.

Collaborations: Prof Galbally has longstanding national and international collaborations demonstrated through completed and ongoing research studies, joint publications, and successful grants. These include with the CIs on this grant.

Publications Prof Galbally has published 69 peer reviewed journal articles, 12 book chapters and an edited book now translated into Japanese. This includes three invited commentaries in Lancet Psychiatry and invited book chapters for Foundations in Clinical Psychiatry and Beischer’s Obstetrics, Gynaecology and the Newborn, both key textbooks within medicine.

Supervision and Mentoring: Prof Galbally has provided supervision for psychiatry registrars, co-supervision for Masters and Doctoral psychology students and current supervisor for 3 Doctoral and 4 PhD students. This includes a current joint PhD student with CI’s Lewis and van IJzendoorn.

Professional involvement: Galbally has held a range of Office Bearer positions in Marce Society for perinatal mental health, RANZCP including as current Chair WA Branch and National Chair Section Perinatal and Infant Psychiatry. Megan has been an expert contributor to RANZCP Mood Disorders guidelines and the revised National Perinatal Mental Health Guidelines. Megan was a member of the 2019 NHMRC panel for Investigator Grants.