Wellcome Trust Centre For Mitochondrial Research

Catherine Feeney


I am a Nurse Consultant working in the Nationally-Commissioned Mitochondrial Service. I contribute to planning of service provision, developing care pathways, quality improvement schemes and patient and public engagement activities.

My role is to provide support to patients in both outpatient and inpatient settings, as well as liaising with community staff to support patients in their home to improve quality of life. In the absence of curative treatments for Mitochondrial disease I also support the research activity in the department by facilitating access to studies and focus groups to better understand the disease, develop new therapeutic strategies and improve patient care.

I qualified as a nurse in 1990 and have worked at the RVI for most of my nursing career, predominantly with Neurosciences. I developed an interest in mitochondrial disease whilst working on the Neurology ward caring for patients and families coping with complex physical and emotional needs. Their strength and determination to overcome disabilities and assist the clinical team in trying to find new treatments and cures has been an inspiration to me.

Research Project

Incidence of complications of pregnancy in patients diagnosed with mitochondrial disease or carrying a mitochondrial DNA mutation
Principal Investigator: Dr Robert McFarland
Other staff members involved: Professor Doug Turnbull and Dr Victoria Nesbitt

Project Details

A retrospective review of female mitochondrial patients attending the mitochondrial specialist clinic in Newcastle NHS Trust, showed that premature birth, gestational diabetes and hypertension occurred more frequently in patients with the m.3243A>G mitochondrial mutation. Recommendations were made for increased vigilance in the obstetric management of patients, as well as future prospective studies to include all forms of mitochondrial disease.

Early diagnosis of mitochondrial disease allows appropriate specialist input and genetic counselling to the family to improve disease management. It is not possible to determine those patients that will suffer complications during pregnancy, therefore this retrospective study of incidence of complications is to be completed in order to better plan pre, peri and post natal care for pregnant mitochondrial patients.

Perinatal and postnatal factors relating to the child will also be reviewed to identify common features which may indicate early signs of disease.

Assessment will be undertaken at a face to face interview using a structured questionnaire or via a postal questionnaire with telephone assistance at a predetermined time convenient to the participant.

Contact: Catherine Feeney. Tel: 0191 282 1740
Sponsor/Funder: Newcastle Hosptials NHS Foundation Trust