Professor John R. Higgins
Professor John R. Higgins is the Professor of Obstetrics & Gynaecology at University College Cork. He is the seventh person to hold this post since the foundation chair in 1849. He is a practicing Obstetrician & Gynaecologist at Cork University Maternity Hospital. He is the current Head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at UCC.
John's subspecialty clinical and research interests are in the area of Maternal Fetal medicine. He has published widely on a range of topics including pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure in pregnancy), folic acid and pregnancy, twin pregnancy, and haemostatic alterations (changes in blood clotting) in pregnancy. In particular, he has explored the relationship between abnormal blood clotting and pregnancy complications including miscarriage, pre-eclampsia, fetal growth restriction, stillbirth and placental abruption. He has co-authored the National Guideline on Prevention of Venous Thrombosis in Pregnancy (2013) and is currently writing the guideline for Treatment of Venous Thrombosis in pregnancy.
Research Publications: His most cited paper is the Australasian Consensus Statement on the Management, Treatment and Investigation of Hypertension in Pregnancy (2000). His most cited original research work is a paper looking at the predictive value of 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring in pregnancy. His most widely reported paper was an investigation of the relationship between maternal blood pressure, maternal work during pregnancy and development of pre-eclampsia. This was extensively reported internationally in major media outlets; the media coverage of this paper was itself the subject of a BBC radio documentary. His most recent publication is a randomised trial of the treatment of hyperemesis gravidarum (nausea and vomiting in pregnancy) which demonstrated the benefit of day care treatment rather than hospital admission for this condition.
Training: John trained initially in internal medicine (MRCPI 1991). He commenced clinical and academic training in Obstetrics & Gynaecology at the Rotunda Hospital and the TCD Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology led by Professor John Bonnar (MRCOG 1996, MD 1996). He undertook a fellowship in Maternal Fetal medicine at the University of Melbourne Perinatal Medicine Department at the Royal Women’s Hospital Melbourne. He was appointed Senior Lecturer at the University of Melbourne and Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist at the Mercy Hospital for Women in 2000. He was awarded the FRANZCOG in 2000, FRCPI in 2003 and FRCOG in 2007. He was awarded the Andrew Phippard award for his research in 1999 by the Australasian Society for the Sudy of Hypertension in Pregnancy, the Blair Bell Lectureship in 1999 by the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists and the Ella McKnight Lectureship in 2000 by the Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Obstetrician & Gynaecologists.
Leadership: John returned to Ireland to take up the UCC Chair in Obstetrics & Gynaecology in 2001. At the same time, he took on the clinical leadership of the maternity services in Cork. He was appointed Director for Reconfiguration of Acute Hospital Services in Cork & Kerry in 2009-2011. In 2011, he was appointed Head of the College of Medicine & Health in UCC. In 2012/13, he chaired the national group which provided recommendations to the Minister on "The Establishment of Hospital Groups as a transition to Independent Hospital Trusts". This report was approved by Irish Cabinet in May 2013.
In 2017, the SSWHG Maternity Directorate was the first group wide directorate to be established in the South /Southwest Hospital Group, and indeed in the country. John is the Clinical Director of the Maternity Director and first Clinical Director in Ireland to hold executive and budgetary authority in the HSE. Since 2017, considerable progress has been made in establishing multiple linkages and a shared management approach between the maternity units in Waterford, Clonmel and Tralee with Cork University Maternity Hospital.
John has a deep interest in organisational reform and change management. He had a unique experience in the amalgamation of three maternity hospitals to the state-of-the-art Cork University Maternity Hospital. Working closely with colleagues, he has overseen significant expansion of the Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology and the development of the Anu Research Centre in CUMH. He is strongly committed to the integration of the delivery of clinical care with teaching, training and innovation.
John is married to Ann; they have six children.