Latest News

February 2018

Lunchtime statistics series

The Institute for Health Research has just commenced running its series of lunchtime seminars on a variety of research and statistics topics.

Over 13 people attended the first session which suggests the following sessions may also be well attended.

Details of the sessions can be found here but please remember to reserve your spot as there is limited number of places in the room.

Similar events run at PMH are also listed on the IHR Web site. These can be accessed remotely by using Scopia video conferencing.

Ovarian cancer project

The Australian Government has just announced it will provide almost $3 million to support a ground-breaking project that helps women identify whether they are at risk of developing ovarian cancer.

The project will be run by the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne where tissue samples of 11,000 women diagnosed between 2001 and 2016 will be tested to see if they are carriers of the BRCA gene mutations. As reported on the ABC News, approximately 1,500 Australian women were diagnosed with ovarian cancer last year and estimated 1,000 more died.

IHR Adjunct Professor, Dr Paul Cohen, is a co-investigator in the study which will see Western Australian patient samples from SJOG Subiaco and KEMH included in the study.

Increasing risk of osteoporosis in WA children

Research by the WA Bone Research Collaboration (WABRC) has confirmed that the number of children aged between 0-16 years presenting at PMH with fractures has risen significantly over the last decade.

Adjunct Professor Aris Siafarikas suggests this may be a sign of increased risk of osteoporosis in our community and is seeking to establish an integrated care clinic at PMH for children with Osteogenesis Imperfecta. Further details on this condition can be found on patient support group’s web site.

For people with an interest in this research and have a suitable background, the WABRC has just advertised for a PhD student to join the team through Notre Dame (see below).

January 2018

Is social media affecting your mental health?

School of Health Sciences tutor and PhD Candidate Carmen Papaluca is exploring this intriguing subject in her PhD thesis titled “The Power of Pictures: Exploring the association between the level and type of Instagram use and wellbeing among female emerging adults.”

Although some of her initial findings were reported in June 2017, her work has just received coverage in SciTech’s online magazine, Particle.

Go online and see what she has found!

PhD Scholarship available (2018-2020)

UNDA is offering a PhD Scholarship worth $30,000 per annum or up to three years for a suitable applicant to join the successful international collaborative research team looking into bone health in apparently healthy and/or diseased adults and children.

WA Bone Research Collaboration (WABRC) was established in 2016, and includes Dr Paola Chivers (Notre Dame), Dr Nicolas Hart (Edith Cowan University), Clinical Lead Adjunct Professor Aris Siafarikas (Princess Margaret Hospital) and Dr Timo Rantalainen (University of Jyvaskyla).

Full details of the scholarship can be found here.

December 2017

Merry Christmas from the IHR

This year has been a good one for the IHR with many new faces joining the team and as outlined in the Institute’s 2017 Annual Report.

Despite the collegial nature of the team, the recent end-of-year breakfast was the first chance for some of our part-time staff to talk to the ‘names’ of those they had heard of but yet to meet.

On behalf of the whole team, we wish all our students, colleagues and collaborators a very Merry Christmas and Happy new Year. We look forward to seeing you all in 2018!

Another one bites the dust!

Masters candidate, Ms Casey Murphy, has just submitted her MPhil thesis for examination. Casey’s thesis is titled “The Importance of active play and organised physical activity for young children: The parents’ perspective.”

Casey was been working towards her research degree on a part-time basis through the School of Health Science. Pictured here in the ceremonial “dress” with her two supervisors, Professor Beth Hands and Dr Duncan Picknoll just prior to presenting her thesis to the Research Office for examination by independent reviewers.

Introducing Dr Duncan Picknoll

Graduating with his Doctorate this week was Dr Duncan Picknoll. Duncan’s thesis was titled “The nature and scope of outdoor education in Western Australia”.

Although enrolled to do his doctorate through the School of Education, Duncan is the Senior Lecturer and Coordinator of the Bachelor of Outdoor Recreation in the School of Health Sciences so well known by many students, some whom were there to cheer for him as he received his degree.

Duncan was supervised by Professor Beth Hands who is pictured with him in the adjoining photo.

November 2017

Breakfast with the Minister for Health

Western Australian health researchers had the opportunity to hear the State Deputy Premier and Minister for Health, The Honourable Roger Cook speak at an early morning breakfast meeting held at Kings Park this week.

The event was organised by the WAHTN and the AICC (WA) and included a Q&A session lead by WA’s Chief Scientist, Professor Peter Klinken AC.

The IHR organised a table for Notre Dame which included senior staff from Nursing, Physiotherapy, Health Sciences and Medicine.

Spinnaker Grant Awards

Associate Professor Dale Edgar, with the IHR’s Dr Dana Hince and Adjuncts, Professor Fiona Wood and A/Prof Anne-Marie Hill and Dr Jacqui Francis-Coad, formally received their research grant from the Spinnaker Health Research Foundation at an event held at Little Creature’s Brewery in Fremantle this week.

In addition, PhD student, Karen Redhead, who is enrolled through the Notre Dame’s Medical School, supplemented her Michael G Kailis Research Scholarship with a project grant. Karen is based at Fiona Stanley Hospital where she is investigating sleep apnea, sleep quality and depression in pregnant women. Her award was presented by Spinnaker Patron, Dr Patricia Kailis, AM, OBE.

Best poster - Welsh Public Health Conference

Dr Jacqueline Francis-Coad won the Welsh Public Health Conference prize for the best abstract poster submission that was recently held in Cardiff. Her poster was titled “Evaluation of older people’s knowledge, awareness, motivation and perceptions about falls and falls prevention in residential care homes: A tale of two cities”.

As a recipient of a 2016 WA Future Health grant, Jacque led a collaborative research study at Swansea University extending findings from her PhD. Her study surveyed 70 residents of aged care homes in Australia and Wales to determine what they knew and thought about falls and falls prevention, gaining their perspective. This was the first step in empowering older people residing in aged care homes to assist preventing falls. Key findings from this study identified gaps in older people’s awareness of the intrinsic risk factors for falls and preferences for receiving falls prevention education.

Jacquie presented the team's findings at the 2017 British Society of Gerontology Conference and locally at Emerging Researchers in Ageing Conference and the manuscript is currently under peer review.

Jacqueline's now plans is to take this research to the next phase by using these findings informed by older people to design, deliver and evaluate falls prevention education for residents of aged care homes.

Two firsts for the BIRN Program!

First PhD completionPippa Kenworthy will graduate this December.

Her project title is “Bioimpedance Spectroscopy – can it be used as a tool for monitoring fluid shifts in burns?” Pippa was enrolled through the School of Physiotherapy and is part of the Fiona Wood Foundation research team.




First publication output of the Masters of Burn and Trauma Rehabilitation – Jane Dow (Snr PT in Geelong, Victoria) published the clinical Practice guideline on multi-disciplinary management of post-traumatic amnesia in brain injured adults in Joanna Briggs Institute Recommended Practice.

Thesis submitted for examination!

Doctor of Philosophy student, Amanda Timler has handed her thesis in! Her two supervisors Prof Beth Hands and Assoc Prof Fleur McIntyre, did the ceremonious walk down the hall clanging bells and cheering her on as she hands in her thesis. Well done Amanda!!

Amanda will be presenting her Thesis “The study: Identity formation and motor competence in adolescence” Friday 10th November 2017, 4-5pm ND46/302. Please come and cheer her on.

Research funding received

Associate Professor Dale Edgar, with a team of co-investigators that include the IHR’s Dr Dana Hince and Adjuncts, Professor Fiona Wood and A/Prof Anne-Marie Hill, have received research funds of just under $20,000 from the Spinnaker Health Research Foundation.

Commencing in 2018, their research project will adapt a successful prehabilitation program developed by the State Adult Burns Unit at Fiona Stanley Hospital to see if it can also improve the post-operative outcomes of patients undergoing general surgery. Details of who can participate in the trial will be posted here in the near future.

Ovarian Cancer Preceptorship

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Dr Aime Powell has been awarded a scholarship to attend the Australian and New Zealand Gynaecological Oncology Group’s Ovarian Cancer Preceptorship to be held 17-18 November 2017.

Attending this preceptorship will greatly enhance Aime’s current knowledge of ovarian cancer (aetiology and pathophysiology), the different treatment combinations administered (novel agents and associated side effects), and will provide further insight into ‘why’ recurrent disease is so prevalent for ovarian cancer patients.

October 2017

Ovarian researcher joins the IHR

In partnership with the gynaecological oncology research team at SJoG Subiaco, the IHR is delighted to welcome Dr Louise Stewart to Notre Dame.

Louise is an epidemiologist whose research interest lies in the analysis of linked health and population data. Her current research is in the area of ovarian cancer with which she works closely with Adjunct Professor Paul Cohen and others. She is the lead investigator on a project titled “Factors predicting ovarian cancer: a large population-based cohort study with long-term follow-up” funded by the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation. She is also a co-investigator on an NHMRC funded grant: “IMPROVE - Investigating Medication re-Purposing to Reduce risk of OVarian cancer and Extend survival”.

Do you have an itchy or painful scar?

Notre Dame research student, Cathy Smith, is undertaking a clinical trial to investigate whether physiotherapy treatment involving scar massage and acupuncture can reduce the level of pain and itch often associated with scars.

Cathy is currently looking for study participants who need to be over 18 years of age and have scars of 6 weeks to 1 year duration that are painful and/or itchy. More details about what’s involved are available here and also on the FaceBook page.

September 2017

Increased statistical power

The IHR is delighted to welcome A/Prof Katrina Spilsbury to its team of biostatisticians.

Katrina is a very experienced population health researcher and biostatistician who has specialized in the analysis of population-level linked data to investigate the epidemiology and patient health outcomes across a diverse range of health-related research projects.

One of her primary roles at Notre Dame is to build the analytical capacity for research undertaken by those in the Burns Injury Research Node led by A/Prof Dale Edgar.

Team-based PhD Scholarships

In association with its three national Institutes, the Pro-Vice Chancellor Research, Professor Greg Blatch, announced a new initiative aimed at building capacity and increasing the output of research active teams at Notre Dame.

Staff and their research associates are invited to submit an Expression of Interest for a "Team-based PhD Scholarship" by the 28th September 2017. The three year scholarship will enable the teams to attract a suitable student to join their research program from 2018.

Professor Blatch will announce the successful applicants by the end of October.

August 2017

Scholarship success!

PhD student, Ranila Bhoyroo was awarded a fully funded scholarship to attend the International Brain Research Organisation (IBRO) APRC School on Neuroinformatics & Brain Network Analysis in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in August 2017.

Ranila is investigating behavioural and neurological differences between boys with and without DCD in a series of studies.

In collaboration with Fiona Stanley Hospital, she will use her new knowledge to assess structural connections of white matter integrity in children with and without DCD.

Cardiology Society Conference

MSc students, Drs Kevin Chung, Harveen Kuppusamy and Pyi Naing provided an oral presentation of some of their research findings at the 65th Annual Scientific Meeting of The Cardiology Society of Australia and New Zealand which was held in Perth recently.

Lead by their principal supervisor, Professor David Playford, abstracts by these three research students can be found in the special supplement by the Heart, Lung and Circulation Journal. For ease of finding them, their abstract numbers are S60, S61, S74, S269 and S273.

The three HDR students are planning to complete their research degrees towards the end of this year.

New rural health hubs at Notre Dame

As announced in April, Notre Dame is leading a Commonwealth funded consortium of universities to establish new rural training opportunities for nursing, midwifery, medical and allied health students in both Broome (WA) and Wagga Wagga (NSW).

The Broome hub will be known as the Kimberley University Department of Rural Health (KUDRH) and aims to improve the recruitment and retention of health professionals to the Kimberley region of Western Australia. In addition to the teaching stream, the KUDRH will work closely with the University’s three national Institutes, the IHR, Nulungu, Institute for Ethics & Society and others to provide a research focus.

The KUDRH was officially launched by the Vice Chancellor, Professor Celia Hammond on the 25th August with representatives from all of the collaborating universities in attendance.

IHR in Broome

August is always a good time to leave Perth and head somewhere warmer!

Prof Max Bulsara and A/Prof Caroline Bulsara from the IHR were joined by Ms Reeti Brar from the University Library in Broome to provide a series of workshops and lectures over a three day period.

The program covered topics such as how to perform a literature search and storing your references in EndNote, a range of topics on qualitative and quantitative statistics and the chance to have one-on-one discussions pertaining to specific research topics.

Premier’s Science Awards

As part of National Science week, the Western Australian Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation announced the winners of the Premier’s Science Awards for 2017.

These prizes recognize individuals who have made outstanding scientific research and engagement efforts within WA. Amongst the winners were, Professor Christobel Saunders was one of two ‘Scientists of the Year’ and Dr Asha Bowen who won the ‘Woodside Early Career Scientist’.

The IHR is delighted to be associated with these two outstanding researchers, through the recently announced Cancer Research Trust grant with Christobel as the Principal Investigator, and with Asha as an Adjunct Research fellow with both the IHR and Nulungu Research Institute.

Annual IMPROVE Conference

PhD student, Catherine Li is the Performance Review and Audit Coordinator in the Safety, Quality and Risk Service at Fiona Stanley Hospital.

Catherine is just commencing her research studies but will draw on her passion for ensuring good patient outcomes through the delivery of sound, efficient, evidence-based service delivery.

In what is becoming an annual event, Catherine and her organising group have pulled together an impressive list of speakers who will discuss their work at the all-day event on the 23 August.

DCD12 – Honourable Mention

PhD Candidate, Helen Beaton, was recognized at the DCD Conference for her poster.

As part of her “The Infant-Care Handling Activity over Time Study – The I-Chat Study” Helen’s poster was titled “Contemporary parent handling behaviours: Do they constrain or enable infant motor development?”

The poster won Helen the recognition based on the clarity of content, quality of images and the way it outlined the reasons for the study, its findings, conclusions and their implications.

A copy of the post is available here.

Biostats support at SJoG

The Institute for Health Research is very excited to have renewed its Service Agreements for the 2017/18 period with St John of God Health Care to provide biostatistical support to clinical researchers at Subiaco and Murdoch hospitals.

This arrangement seeks to increase the research output at both hospitals through advice on research design, biostatisticial training and data analysis that results in publications, joint grant applications and the ability to undertake research training through a co-supervised Masters or PhD.

Teaching buy-out for research

August 2017: In a Notre Dame first, the IHR offered to fund up to 6 hours per week of teaching buy-out for the last half of the year for research active staff in the School of Health Sciences.

The successful applicants who will share this opportunity are Drs Tania Spiteri and Ryan Anderton.

Tania will use the time to further her study in to what perceptual-cognitive cues an athlete identifies, and specifically how these cues are used during information processing, to making an informed decision about movement direction during an agility task. Ryan will build his collaborative network in a 5-year longitudinal study with Parkinson’s patients using biomarkers to track their decline.

We wish both well in their studies.

July 2017


July 5-8, 2017: The MoveGrowEngage collaboration hosted the 12th International Conference on Developmental Coordination Disorder at the Esplanade Hotel. Prof Beth Hands from Notre Dame was the Conference Chair, with co-convenors Emeritus Prof Jan Piek and Dr Melissa Licari. The organising committee was supported by fellow Notre Dame staff A/Prof Fleur McIntyre, Dr Paola Chivers and Executive Officer Louisa Smith; Dr Daniela Rigoli & Sue McLaren from Curtin University; and Dr Asheigh Thornton from UWA.

The delegates were inspired by keynote speakers Assistant Prof Jill Zwicker, Prof Andrew Whitehouse, Prof Peter Anderson, Prof John Cairney and Prof Janet Eyre. Over 170 local, interstate and international delegates attended the conference.

The next conference will be held in Finland in 2019.

Homelessness and health care

July 2017: PhD Candidate, Gloria Sutherland, was invited to Royal Perth Hospital (RPH) to listen to Dr Nigel Hewett talk about his work with UK homeless people.

Nigel is the Medical Director of Pathway UK which has inspired the RPH Homeless Healthcare model. Despite a 90% increase in ‘rough sleeping’ in London between 2010/11 and 2014/15, A&E attendances and hospital bed days have both significantly dropped due to the Pathway program.

All of this is of great interest to Gloria as she investigates the health needs of older, homeless women in the Perth Metropolitan area.

June 2017

Cancer research grant

June 2017: Professors Jim Codde, Max Bulsara and Caroline Bulsara from the IHR were part of a collaborative team under the leadership of Professor Christobel Saunders to win a multi-million dollar grant from the Cancer Research Trust.

The Cancer Research Trust funding of $6.75 million will be spread over nine years and an additional $2.25 million has been committed to the research teams by partner organisations including the Cancer Council WA, UWA, Murdoch, Curtin and Notre Dame universities, the WA Department of Health and St John of God Healthcare.

The Continuous Improvement in Care–Cancer (CIC–Cancer) Project will implement an innovative program of research that places cancer patients first. The program involves consumers, clinicians, health services and researchers and will measure outcomes important to patients, generate and trial new interventions and implement findings rapidly.

IHR in Sydney

June 2017: Biostatistics workshops were provided on the Sydney Campus in June by Prof Max Bulsara, Dr Paola Chivers and A/Prof Caroline Bulsara.

A series of workshops and one-on-one sessions were available which all proved highly regarded.

Paola extended the reach of the IHR to clinical staff at the War Memorial Hospital by providing a whole day workshop tailored to their needs.

March 2017

ASCCP Conference - Sydney

March 2017: Adjunct Professor Paul Cohen and one of his UNDA HDR students, Dr Lizzy Codde, represented their gynae-oncology research team at the 25th Scientific Meeting of the Australian Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology.

Both Paul and Lizzy gave oral presentations which have now been published.

Among the many highlight of the conference was a lot of discussion on the ‘Renewed Cervical Screening Program’ which was scheduled for rollout across Australia in December 2017.

Falls Prevention Seminar

March 2017: With A/Prof Anne-Marie Hill, the IHR hosted a seminar at Fremantle Hospital for health professionals titled ‘Joining Forces on Falls Prevention’ that shared local, national and international experiences and research.

The speakers included Sandy Blake (NZ), Melanie Farlie (VIC) and Jacqui Francis-Coad (WA). Over 80 people attended the event.

Sandy’s presentation and other resources can be downloaded from here.

January 2017

Biostats support at SCGH

The Institute for Health Research is very excited to have entered into an agreement with the Department of Research at SCGH to provide biostatistical support to the hospital’s clinical researchers.

This four-year arrangement seeks to increase the research output at both SCGH and UNDA through advice on research design, biostatisticial training and data analysis that results in co-authored publications, joint grant applications and the ability to undertake research training through a co-supervised Masters or PhD.

December 2016

2016 Health Research Symposium

In December, the IHR held a health research symposium to showcase some of the research being undertaken at the University.

It is now possible to see a video of the presentations and obtain a copy of the abstract from here.