Dr Sarah Stock


Job title:

Senior Clinical Lecturer in Maternal and Fetal Health and Honorary Consultant and Subspecialist in Maternal and Fetal Medicine

Contact details:

MRC Centre for Reproductive Health,
The Queen’s Medical Research Institute,
47 Little France Crescent, Edinburgh EH16 4TJ
Telephone: 0131 242 6449  Email: sarah.stock@ed.ac.uk    Room: W1.17

Twitter @evbasedbaby

My research in a nutshell:

The main focus of my research is preterm birth, which remains one of the big challenges in obstetrics. In the UK around 50,000 births are preterm, and the effects of preterm birth are lifelong. I am particularly interested in how infections and inflammation can lead to premature labour and damage to the developing baby. My aim is to develop better ways of diagnosing preterm labour and intrauterine inflammation and find new treatments to prevent complications.

Research themes:

  • Diagnosing in utero inflammation and predicting preterm birth: Developing new methods to detect fetal inflammation and diagnose preterm labour.
  • Cationic Host Defence Peptides in pregnancy: Investigating how naturally produced antimicrobial peptides might protect against preterm birth
  • HPV and preterm labour: Studying how human papilloma virus infection can lead to preterm labour
  • Environmental effects on pregnancy: Investigating how the intrauterine environment affects development, and identifying strategies to improve outcomes
  • Clinical trials: testing treatments to prevent preterm labour


I am a consultant obstetrician, and sub-specialist in maternal fetal medicine. In my clinical practice I have a special interest in preterm birth prevention and management of intrauterine growth restriction, which remain big challenges. Looking after families affected by these problems has inspired me to perform research into preterm birth prevention.

My research experience includes laboratory studies, preclinical research, epidemiological studies and clinical trials.

My PhD, performed in the Jennifer Brown Research Laboratory investigated the production and function of antimicrobial peptides in pregnancy. Ongoing work in this are has suggested modulating antimicrobial peptides might be a strategy to prevent preterm labour. Together with other researchers at the Tommy’s Centre for Maternal and Fetal Health we have developed a new mouse model of preterm labour to investigate this further.

During my training I undertook a fellowship at the University of Western Australia School of Women’s and Infant’s Health . I continue to collaborate with researchers there, developing new ways to diagnose fetal inflammation, and how to optimise anti-inflammatory treatments to prevent fetal damage using a sheep model of pregnancy.

In Scotland we have a unique opportunities to use Scottish population health data to explore the effects of the pregnancy environment on development. I have previously used the Scottish birth databases to explore the effects of induction of labour on perinatal outcomes. New collaborations through the Farr Institue and ADRC will allow studies of environmental factors and HPV infection on pregnancy outcomes.



Research group:

  • Heather MacPherson, Research Associate
  • Marian Aldhous, Postdoctoral Scientist
  • Sara Rinaldi, Postdoctoral Scientist
  • Sofia Makieva, Postdoctoral Scientist
  • Tina Baker, PhD student
  • Lauren Megaw, PhD student
  • Sarah Murray, PhD student
  • Holger Unger, Thrasher Early Career Researcher
  • Ioannis Pavlidis, PhD student
  • Lisa Wotherspoon, Trial Manager
  • Angela Niven, Trial Administrator
  • Merel Bruijn, Postdoctoral fellow – meta-analysis

Principal collaborators:

  • Donald Davidson, Julia Dorin 
(MRC Centre for Inflammation Research, University of Edinburgh)
  • Matt Kemp, John Newnham (School of Women and Infants Health, University of Western Australia)
  • Alan Jobe, Suhas Kallapur (Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, USA)
  • Basky Thilaganathan (St George’s, University of London)
  • Chris Dibben (ADRC, University of Edinburgh)
  • Phil Bennet, David MacIntyre (Imperial College London)


2016- 2018    Gapps GRAND CHALLENGES IN GLOBAL HEALTH: Preventing Preterm Birth initiative –A Systems Biology Approach to Pregnancy and Prematurity. Microbiome Metabalome Interactions in Women at Risk of Preterm Birth (Co-Investigator)

2015- 2018    National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment Program (£865,000). QUIDS: Quantitative Fetal Fibronectin to help decision making in women with symptoms of preterm labour (Chief Investigator)

2015- 2016    SPARKs Innovation Grant (£27,922) Advanced ultrasound as a non-invasive diagnostic test of fetal inflammation: A proof of principle study (Chief Investigator)

2014- 2018   National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment Program (£1.3 million). STOPPIT 2: An open randomised trial of the Arabin pessary to prevent preterm birth in twin pregnancy, with health economics and acceptability (Co-Investigator)

2014    British Maternal and Fetal Medicine Society Bursary (£4,940). New Ultrasound techniques to Diagnose Fetal Inflammatory Syndrome  (Chief Investigator)

2013-2017 Chief Scientist Office, Scotland (£225,000) – Does promoting increased awareness of decreased fetal movements reduce stillbirth – a stepped wedge cluster randomised trial? (Co-Investigator)

2012-2103 Women and Infant’s Research Foundation, Western Australia ($14,605 AUD) – Production and Function of Amniotic Fluid Cationic Host Defence Peptides (Chief Investigator)

2011-2013 Jennifer Brown Research Fund (£17,504) – The Effects of Vitamin D on Antimicrobial Protein Production in Pregnancy  (Chief Investigator)

2010-2013 Albert McKern Bequest (£29,850) – Hormonal Profiles in twin pregnancy (Chief Investigator)

Recent publications:

Kemp MW, Newnham JP, Challis JG, Jobe AH, Stock SJ. The clinical use of corticosteroids in pregnancy. Human Reproduction Update. December 2015 (epub ahead of print)

Kemp MW, Molloy TJ, Usuda H, Woodward E, Miura Y, Payne MS, Ireland DJ, Jobe AH, Kallapur SG, Stock SJ, Spiller OB, Newnham JP, Saito M. Outside-in? Acute fetal systemic inflammation in very preterm chronically catheterized sheep fetuses is not driven by cells in the fetal blood. September 2015. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. (epub ahead of print)

Abbott DS, Hezelgrave NL, Seed PT, Norman JE, David AL, Bennett PR, Girling JC, Chandirimani M, Stock SJ, Carter J, Cate R, Kurtzman J, Tribe RM, Shennan AH. Quantitative Fetal Fibronectin to Predict Preterm Birth in Asymptomatic Women at High Risk. May 2015. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 125(5) 1168-1176

Rinaldi SF, Makieva S, Frew L, Wade J, Thomson AJW, Moran CM, Norman JE, Stock SJ. Ultrasound-guided intrauterine injection of lipopolysaccharide as a novel model of preterm birth in the mouse. May 2015.The American journal of pathology 185 (5), 1201-1206

Stock SJ, Morris RK, Chandiramani M, Shennan AH, Norman JE. Variation in management of women with threatened preterm labour. Dec 2014. Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed

Kemp MW, Miura, Y Payne MS, Jobe AH, Kallapur SG, Keelan JA, Saito M, Stock SJ, Spiller OB, Ireland D, Yaegashi N, Clarke M, Hahne D, Rodger J, Keelan J and Newnham JP. Maternal intravenous administration of azithromycin results in significant fetal uptake in a sheep model of second trimester pregnancy. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2014 Aug 25. pii: AAC.03721-14.

Schuit E, Stock S, Groenwold RHH, Maurel K, Combs CA, Garite T, Spong CY, Thom EA, Rouse DJ, Caritis SN, Saade GR, Norman JE, Rode L, Klein K, Taborn A, Çetingöz E, Rozenberg P, Morrison JC, Magann EF, Briery CM, Serra V, Perales A, Meseguer J, Nassar AH, Lim AC, Moons KGM, Kwee A, Mol BWJ. Progesterone to prevent preterm birth in twin pregnancies: an individual participant data meta-analysis. BJOG. 2014 Aug 22.

Frew L, Makieva S, McKinlay A, McHugh B, Doust A, Norman JEN, Davidson DJ, Stock SJ. Human cathelicidin production by the cervix. PLoS One. 2014 Aug 4;9(8):e103434.

Stock SJ, Taylor R, Mairs R, Azaghdani A, Hor K, Smith I, Dundas K, Kissack C, Norman JE, Denison, F. Home Cervical Ripening with 1mg Dinoprostone Gel in Primiparous Singleton Pregnancy. Obstet Gynecol. 2014 Aug;124(2 Pt 1):354-60.

 Ahmed S, Kemp MW, Payne MS, Kallapur SG, Stock SJ, Marsh HC, Jobe AH, Newnham JP, Spiller OB. Comparison of Complement Activity in Adult and Preterm Sheep Serum. Am J Reprod Immunol. 2014 Jul 21

Miura, Y Payne MS, Keelan JA, Noe A, Carter S, Watts R, Spiller OB, Jobe AH, Kallapur SG, Saito M, Stock SJ, Newnham JP, Kemp MW. Maternal Intravenous Treatment with Either Azithromycin or Solithromycin Clears Ureaplasma parvum from the Amniotic Fluid in an Ovine Model of Intrauterine Infection. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2014 Jun 30.

Stock, SJ and Kemp, MW More Evidence that Unnecessary Antenatal Treatments Cause Harm JAMA Pediatrics 2014 68 (4) 389-389.

Payne MS, Kemp MW, Kallapur SG, Kannan PS, Saito M, Miura Y, Newnham JP, Stock S, Ireland DJ, Kramer BW, Jobe AH. Intrauterine Candida albicans infection elicits severe inflammation in fetal sheep. Pediatric Research 2014 75, 716–722.

Stinson LF, Ireland DJ, Kemp MW, Payne M, Stock S, Newnham JP, Keelan JA. Effects of cytokine suppressive anti-inflammatory drugs (CSAIDs) on inflammatory activation in ex-vivo human and ovine fetal membranes Reproduction 2014 147 (3), 313-320.

Frew L, Sugiarto NU, Rajagopal SP, He J, Leask R, Norman JE, Riley SC, Stock SJ. The effect of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on the inflammatory response of the amnion. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2013 Jul 23.

Einarsdóttir K, Haggar F, Pereira G, Leonard H, de Klerk N, Stanley FJ, Stock S. Role of public and private funding in the rising caesarean section rate: a cohort study. BMJ Open. 2013 May 2;3(5).

Stock SJ, Josephs K, Farquharson S, Love C, Cooper SE, Kissack C, Akolekar R, Norman JE, Denison FC. Maternal and neonatal outcomes of successful Kielland’s rotational forceps delivery. Obstet Gynecol. 2013 May;121(5):1032-9.

Stock SJ, Ferguson E, Duffy A, Ford I, Chalmers J, Norman JE. Outcomes of induction of labour in women with previous caesarean delivery: a retrospective cohort study using a population database. PLoS One. 2013;8(4):e60404.

Stock SJ, Norman JE. Elective delivery of twins at 37 weeks gestation decreases infant complications. Evid Based Med. 2013 Jun;18(3):e21.
Skorupskaite K, Walker J, Stock S. Modeling chorionic villus sampling technique: influence of number of needle ‘passes’ on quantity of chorionic villi obtained. Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 2013 May;41(5):592-3.

Stock SJ, Bricker L, Norman JE. Immediate versus deferred delivery of the preterm baby with suspected fetal compromise for improving outcomes. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Jul 11;7:CD008968.

Stock SJ, Ferguson E, Duffy A, Ford I, Chalmers J, Norman JE.Outcomes of elective induction of labour compared with expectant management: population based study. BMJ. 2012 May 10;344:e2838. doi: 10.1136/bmj.e2838.

Stock SJ, Norman JE. Treatments for precursors of cervical cancer and preterm labour. BJOG. 2012 May;119(6):647-9.

Norman JE, Stock S. Intracervical Foley catheter for induction of labour. Lancet. 2011 Dec 17;378(9809):2054-5.

Prizes and awards:

Jan 2014          Richard Johanson Bursary British Maternal and Fetal Medicine Society To fund research into ultrasound markers of the fetal inflammatory response syndrome

August 2011   Bernhard Baron Travelling Fellowship 2012 Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists For travel to The School of Women’s and Infants Health at the University of Western Australia, King Edward’s Hospital, Perth, Western Australia, for research in preterm labour.

July 2011        Edinburgh Bioquarter Innovations Prize “pH test”

Updated 10th December 2015