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Research_

Projects

Radically reimagining what health is
Explore some of our key research projects.

Our projects


Antimicrobial Resistance, Inequality and Development in India

Leads: Assa Doron and Alex Broom

(International Partner: Mahati Chittem)

India is often considered the epicentre of the global antimicrobial resistance crisis, with rising, wide-scale and unregulated antimicrobial use.  

But the story of the rise of resistance in India is much more complicated than India as a superuser of antimicrobials — it is about the evolving interface of industrial pharmaceutical development, poverty, inequality, relations between humans and animals, and so on.

Antimicrobial resistance in India is as much the story of microbes, as it is of the historical and current dynamics of class and caste, hygiene, poor standards of living, lack of universal healthcare, and other structural problems.

What looks like rampant, escalating antimicrobial misuse and a need for tighter controls over drugs and ‘prescribers’, thus emerges as a complex social problem.

Working with partners in India, we aim to offer a broader context to reframe resistance in India as multifactorial, enacted through cultural/local practices, and irreducible to singular problems of control or regulation.


Precision and the Person

Lead: Alex Broom

With Katherine Kenny, Barbara Prainsack, Mustafa Khasraw, Zarnie Lwin, Mal Itchins, Claire Wakefield, Emma Kirby, David Wyld, Alex Page

This study investigates the social implications of the turn toward ‘precision’ medicine, focusing on cancer care, where it has its strongest foothold.

Even though medical advancements are leading to new cancer treatments, experiences of seeking, screening for, and receiving targeted therapies are not well understood.

By exploring the everyday experiences of patients, carers, and health professionals, we are building a clearer understanding of experiences of receiving (or not receiving) targeted therapies for individuals and their families living with cancer.

Exploring ideas such as hope, cost, benefit and value of targeted therapies, this project provides an urgently needed community perspective on this important development in medicine.


ARC Hub to Combat Antimicrobial Resistance

University of Sydney Hub activities led by Alex Broom (CIB); Hub Director and CIA, Rebecca Guy (UNSW)

The proliferation of antimicrobial resistance requires a uniquely collaborative approach to research, which brings together all stakeholders, across industry, health and research.

This ARC Hub to Combat Antimicrobial Resistance, led by Director Professor Rebecca Guy, and with the social science component led by Professor Broom, is an over $18 million, 5 year collaboration, to make a considerable impact on AMR, bringing together pharma, biotech, researchers and health providers, to provide innovative solutions.

The University of Sydney component of the Hub will focus on the social science of stewardship, diagnostics and implementation.


Navigating an Uncertain Antimicrobial Future

Lead: Alex Broom

With Katherine Kenny, Emma Kirby, Mark Davis, Susan Dodds, Jennifer Broom, Jeffrey Post, Pam Konecny

The emergence and spread of microbes that are resistant to our currently available antimicrobial drugs is a growing threat within hospital systems in Australia and worldwide.

In fact, drug-resistant infections are now one of the biggest challenges that hospitals face in delivering safe and effective care.

While inappropriate or over- use of antibiotic drugs is one of the key drivers of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), ‘solving’ the problem of AMR requires more than our current individual-level interventions directed towards the prescribing behaviours of practicing clinicians.

Instead, it requires a systematic approach that addresses how the problem of AMR is seen as a political priority, how it is addressed across the entire healthcare system, and how managers are held accountable for securing the future against the escalating threat of AMR.


Cultural Biographies, Medical Knowledges

Lead: Alex Broom

With Emma Kirby, Renata Kokanovic, Jonathan Adams, Sophie Lewis, Rhiannon Parker, Zarnie Lwin, David Wyld, Eng-Siew Koh, Paul de Souza, Lisa Woodland

The notions of ‘cultural competence’ and ‘cultural difference’ have circulated across healthcare settings for decades, with many forms of education and intervention focused on cultural minority groups and seeking to improve how they experience care.

But these ‘interventions’ often merely focus on the difference of the culturally diverse person/s (e.g. ‘migrants’), rather than how differences are constructed, enacted and reproduced (relationally).

In this project we focus in on the production of difference (vis-à-vis forms of difference), and how difference is ‘made to be’ in clinical interactions. That is, as opposed to being inherent to person or persons.

Further, in this project seeks to show how complex personhood shapes therapeutic relationships and opportunities, rather than merely viewing cultural and linguistic diversity as a site for ‘upskilling’, ‘education’ or ‘intervention’.

Rather, through life history interviews with migrant cancer patients and through their photos of past and present lives, we explore complex personhood and how it manifests in the present; but in turn, how it manifest in-relation, in cancer care settings.

That is, we all bring forms of complexity into illness and care, and this needs to be recognised to move beyond ‘deficit’ models of cultural and linguistic diversity.    


The Changing Landscapes of Survivorship

Lead: Alex Broom

With Katherine Kenny, Emma Kirby, Patsy Yates, Clive Seale, John Oliffe, Zarnie Lwin, David Wyld, Brett Hughes & Annette Cubitt

Although it still evokes considerable fear in most people’s lives, a cancer diagnosis is no longer the death sentence it once was.

More and more, people are living-with cancer in an on-going, if also incurable, way.

This reconfigured terrain of cancer survivorship is presenting new challenges not only for the people with cancer in their bodies, but for their families and health professionals, too.

Using innovating qualitative methods including solicited diaries and photo-elicitation, the ‘Changing Landscapes of Survivorship’ project digs into the meanings and practices that underpin contemporary cancer survivorship in people’s everyday lives.

Living-with cancer emerges from our analysis as a complex set of relational, temporal and normative practices that speak beyond experiences of health, illness and care to the entangled nature of social existence, more generally.


The Welfare and Wellbeing of International Students Before and During COVID-19: Stakeholders, Policy and Governance

Leads: Gaby Ramia, Alan Morris, Shaun Wilson, Catherine Hastings and Emma Mitchell

Official government data on the experience of international students produce a narrative of high satisfaction rates with all aspects of life and the educational experience in Australia.

Yet international students have almost none of the rights of ‘social citizenship’, and there is compelling evidence that they face major challenges in relation to personal finances and housing in particular.

Many of them also experience widespread racism and discrimination, and social isolation.

Data from the project demonstrates that each and all of these problems have been exacerbated, if not multiplied, since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis.

Nested within a broader research program across three universities, which includes large surveys and a body of student interviews, this project is based on in-depth interviews with international education policy and governance experts and stakeholders.

The interviews relate most directly to housing precarity, but with wider implications for welfare, wellbeing and the educational experience.


Inequality in Australia: Housing in the Asset Society

Leads: Lisa Adkins and Martijn Konings

This project addresses the role of housing in growing inequalities of wealth in Australia in an era when housing prices have risen faster than wages. It will generate new knowledge about:

  1. the institutional drivers that have led to a combination of house price appreciation and wage stagnation and 
  2. the role that intergenerational housing-based wealth transfers are playing in shaping the life chances and trajectories of young people. An expected outcome will be a model of social stratification that takes full account of household asset positions. 

The findings of the project will provide benefits to organisations seeking practical policy options for addressing growing wealth inequality and for enhancing social cohesion in Australia.


Exceptional trajectories: transforming understandings of cancer survivorship

Leads: Alex Broom, Kevin Dew, Kerry Chaimberlain,

This collaborative project investigates how cancer survivors, their companions and supporters, and their health and medical carers represent, understand and negotiate survivorship, to gain insights into extraordinary survivorship.


Grandparent childcare: negotiating work and care across generations

Leads: Jocelyn, Craig, Myra Hamilton, Elizabeth Adamson, Virpi Timonen

This project investigates the intricacies of shared childcare responsibilities with parents and grandparents in contemporary Australia. Using focusing on parent-grandparent care dyads will aid in generating critical new knowledge of intra-family negotiations about employment and childcare provision across generations (and their relationship with social and economic policy), and identify sustainable employment-childcare practices that meet the needs of children, parents and grandparents.


Conditional welfare: A comparative case study of income management policies

Leads: Greg Marston, Phillip Mendes, Louise Humpage, Shelley Bielefeld, Michelle Peterie, Zoe Staines, Steven Roche

Income management quarantines a portion of social security payments, placing these funds in a special account that can only be used to pay for essentials such as food and bills, and cannot be used to purchase alcohol or tobacco. Compulsory income management was first introduced to Australia as part of the Northern Territory Emergency Response, and a comparable policy - ‘money management’ - was introduced to New Zealand in 2012.

This project is the first large independent study of compulsory income management in Australia and New Zealand. It investigates how income management has developed as a policy, how it is being implemented by service providers, and how it affects the lives, choices and autonomy of benefit recipients.


Rights of migrant workers

Lead: Anna Boucher

This project aims to study rights abuse of temporary and permanent migrant workers in Australia, Canada and New Zealand, three democracies with globally high rates of temporary migration. These countries now host many temporary migrant workers with variant experiences of employment rights.

This project will investigate the exploitation of migrant workers’ rights, considering the role of industry sectors, trade union representation, visa rules, access to justice and migrant characteristics. This project is expected to formulate policy for migrant protection.


The asset state: Comparing new models for financing public investment

Lead: Gareth Bryant 

This project aims to investigate policy models that account for public spending as an asset rather than a cost. The project expects to build knowledge about how changes in the way governments budget for and deliver funding create new options for public investment.

The project develops a comparative study of the relationship between accounting reforms and financing models for higher education, social housing and renewable energy in Australia and the UK.

Expected outcomes include conceptualising new spaces of fiscal power in the 'asset state' and developing tools for policy makers to guide budgetary choices. This should provide significant benefits by identifying equitable and sustainable ways to pay for critical services and infrastructure.


Pathways to home ownership in an age of uncertainty 

Lead: Laurence Troy 

With Gareth Bryant with Lisa Adkins, Martijn Konings, Gareth Bryant, Caitlin Buckle and Amma Buckley 

This project will investigate how young households are making choices in areas of finance, living arrangements and consumption, for to navigate their pathway into home ownership in response to three interconnected challenges of high housing prices, increasing significance of property related wealth in securing owner-occupation and increasing precarity in employment.


A Real Deal: Transforming Australia in and beyond the pandemic 

Leads: Amanda Tattersall and Gareth Bryant

This project seeks to address the complex of interconnected issues that sit at the heart of both the climate crisis and the economic crisis caused by COVID-19: a carbon-intensive economy offering poor working conditions and insecurity for too many workers in Australia.

The project draws together a coalition of over a dozen community, corporate, climate, and union partners in a long-term participatory research project. Our approach to the research is distinctive, as it draws on the combined but divergent interests of our community partners – involving them in research design and ensuring the voices of those at the forefront of the twin crises are included in policy solutions.


Chemical Practices: enhancement and experimentation

Lead: Kane Race

With Dean Murphy, Kiran Pienaar and Toby Lea

The use of drugs for a wide range of purposes is an increasingly prominent feature of pharmaceutical markets and lifestyle practices. As pharmaceutical markets expand, the distinction between therapeutic and illicit drugs question. The modification of sexual and gendered experience has become a key site for this expansion. But drug consumption can give rise to serious dangers in certain circumstances.

This project is researching the chemical practices of sexual and gender minorities in Australia and investigating how health agencies have sought to address them. This will enable a better understanding of the use of drugs and medications for various purposes and provide crucial information for the improvement of public health services.


Solidarity in times of a pandemic

Lead: Barbara Prainsack, Katharina Kieslich

Participating country teams: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom

This comparative project spanning nine European countries uses qualitative methods to explore how people react to policy measures that have been introduced, and what actions they take on their own initiative over and above the official advice by public authorities.

What motivates citizens to follow, adapt to, or ignore, the advice of public authorities? What do they do to protect themselves, and to support others – and what roles do technologies play in this? What, or who, do people trust in these uncertain times? What do people need to feel safe at the time of crisis?

The qualitative longitudinal study design involves ‘soft comparisons’ between countries over time allows us not only to identify differences and similarities in how people responded to the pandemic and the ensuing policy measures, but also why. These findings are expected to generate valuable evidence for policies for pandemic preparedness, prevention and containment in the countries under study, and beyond.

Read more about the Solidarity in time of pandemic project.

 


Austrian corona panel project

Lead: Bernhard Kittel, Sylvia Kritzinger, Hajo Boomgaarden and Barbara Prainsack

 

The Corona crisis has fundamentally changed everyday life in many countries, including Austria. Though the crisis concerns everybody, people are affected in different ways.

The Corona Panel at the University of Vienna investigates how information, attitudes, and behaviours are distributed across the population, and how these develop in the course of the crisis. The study is based on a (weekly, and later monthly) panel survey with a sample of 1500 respondents who represent the sociodemographic structure of the Austrian population.

The study has received funding from the Vienna Science and Technology Fund, the Rectorate of the University of Vienna and from the Austrian Science Fund FWF.

Read more about the Austrian Corona Panel Project.

 


The political economy and ethics of rare diseases research in Austria and beyond

Lead: Christiane Druml and Barbara Prainsack

The question of how genomic information should be communicated to patients has been a hotly debated topic for a number of years. This project, which Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Rare and Undiagnosed Diseases explores the experiences and views of rare disease patients and their families in connection with how genetic and genomic information has been, and should be, communicated. We will employ a participatory approach: The research design will be co-created in collaboration with patients and patient organisations.

Because we are currently facing a major public health crisis, and because there is very little data on how rare disease patients and their families experience the COVID-19 pandemic and how their needs are met, we will also explore these questions within our sub-project.

Read more about The political economy and ethics of rare diseases research in Austria and beyond.

 


Seeing like a virus

Lead: Claas Kirchhelle

Seeing like a Virus explores the history and legacies of a key surveillance technology for bacterial pathogens: bacteriophage-typing. Phage-typing employs carefully curated sets of bacteria-infecting viruses (bacteriophages) to identify bacteria.

The technology originated in 1920s Germany and became a gold standard for surveying important pathogens throughout the Cold War. However, biological limitations, extractive sampling, and hierarchical laboratory networks also facilitated a neglect of Southern diseases and a distortion of international health politics towards Northern interests.

Focusing on phage-typing: (1) I explore how laboratory-based typing technologies structured knowledge of infectious disease and reinforced global power imbalances; (2) I collaborate with microbiologists to study the biological past of typing collections; (3) I explore microbial collections' current recycling by the biotech industry and (post)colonial legacies of phenotypic surveillance in the genomic era.


Cultures and codes: British antimicrobial development and infectious disease surveillance 1970-2020

Lead: Claas Kirchhelle

This project aims to understand how: (a) ties between industry, science, and public health changed from a post-war corporatist world of large-scale culturing and screening efforts to a late 20th century world structured by smaller biotech and venture capital actors employing targeted, sequence-based analysis and automated screening; (b) how work patterns and existing infrastructures like culture collections and laboratory networks, evolved in the face of privatisation, patenting reforms, and new genomic and computerised technologies; (c) why the pipeline for new antimicrobials began to fall dry from the 1980s onwards. It is part of the new “How did the Antibiotic Pipeline Run Dry?” research cluster and is funded by the Research Council of Norway.


Reducing male suicide cluster

Lead: John Oliffe

With John Ogrodniczuk, Francine Darroch, Simon Rice, Zac Seidler, Sarah McKenzie, William Affleck, Kavitha Agamutu, David Kealy, Paul Links, Gen Creighton

The Reducing Male Suicide cluster is funded by the University of British Columbia’s  (UBC) Catalyzing Research Cluster Grant.

The goal over the course of the two-year period for the cluster is to work across UBC faculties, national and international partners to create and mobilize knowledge to de-stigmatize men’s mental illness and suicidality, reduce disparities in care, and lead effective male suicide prevention interventions globally.

The team focuses on men’s mental health inequities; the experiences of men who seek, and general practitioners who provide, mental health care; and relationships between men’s mental illnesses (including depression) and suicide risk.


Men building better relationships (MBBR)

Lead: Dr John Oliffe

MBBR is a study conducted under UBC Men’s Health Research Program to learn about supporting men who have experienced or are experiencing relationship breakdown (i.e., divorce, separation or break up). This project is funded by Movember and led by Dr. John Oliffe at the University of British Columbia.


Housing for health incubator

Lead: Tess Lea

With Liam Grealy, Healthabitat and allies

Within funding from the Henry Hallloran Trust, the Incubator involves academic collaborations with community organisations and expert practitioners representing technical trades, architecture, public health, asset management and Indigenous land, to understand and intervene in the drivers of continuing substandard housing and infrastructure.

Commencing in March 2018 and including postdoctoral fellow Dr Liam Grealy (3-years f/t), it probes the necessity of repair and maintenance of health hardware, and how this might be made a consistent feature of Indigenous property management regimes, to ensure housing habitability and householder health. It has also conducted supplementary inquiries.

The first, funded by NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, anticipates climate-driven housing challenges in NSW. The second, funded by a highly competitive AHURI grant, takes place over 2020-21. ‘Modelling sustainable regional and remote Indigenous housing’ is a tri-university effort exploring funding models and approaches for good design and systematic maintenance of housing, thus addressing a key challenge for outer regional and remote area viability.  The third, to commence in 2021, funded with a new ARC grant, introduces the concept of infrastructural biographies to explore the readiness, and otherwise, of existing amenities (energy, waste management and water supplies) in remote areas to support Indigenous people’s clear desires to continue to live on country.


Pedalling for change: Cultural geography for traffic congestion innovation

Lead: Tess Lea

With Gordon Waitt, Ian Buchanan, Glenn Fuller, Nick Fogarty

This ARC discovery project with Wollongong University (2018-2021) draws on Lea’s policy ecology methods and expertise in settler colonial inequalities to explore strategies for inhabiting public space in more just ways. It innovatively uses public dialogue panels to examine obstacles to cycling-friendly policies and offer answers for biosecure, low-carbon transportation, focusing on the most hard to imagine place for cycling dominance, the city of Sydney.


Plants and People

Lead: Sophie Chao

This study explores how palm oil, as plant and product, is understood by indigenous peoples in the places where it is introduced and cultivated; and how indigenous views of this proliferating plant shed light on larger questions about the relationship between human and other-than-human life.

Working with and across species categories and hierarchies, the project used ethnographic fieldwork to analyse how the proliferation of industrial monocrops subverts the futures and relations of some lifeforms while opening new horizons of possibility for others. Its empirical grounding in indigenous experiences and modes of analysis offers a critical counterpoint to the primarily Western-centric and technoscientific focus of posthumanist studies to date.


Multispecies Justice

Lead: Sophie Chao  

This project considers the promise of multispecies justice from an interdisciplinary persepective. It explores what it would mean to reconceptualise, reimagine and reinstitute justice through a multispecies lens, bringing together academics, activists, and artists, and seeks to move beyond anthropocentric and Eurocentric framings of justice.

The focus is on the lifeworlds of Indigenous peoples and the urban poor who often live with environmental injustice—experiencing unequal suffering from biodiversity loss, resource extraction, toxic exposures, and atmospheric changes.


Hunger and Culture

Lead: Sophie Chao 

We live in an era of troubled food systems. Changes in the way food is produced, distributed and consumed worldwide pose different kinds of nutrition and health threats to populations across the Global North and South. Against this backdrop, this interdisciplinary project examines the poetics and politics of hunger among indigenous West Papuan communities whose traditional foodways are threatened by large-scale deforestation and industrial agribusiness expansion. Pushing against the sanitised language of “food insecurity”, this project weaves indigenous theories of hunger with insights derived from anthropology, phenomenology, the environmental humanities, cultural theory, food studies, and Science and Technology Studies, to reframe hunger as a multiple, more-than-human, modality of being – one no less cultural than food itself.


Why do some people not recover from musculoskeletal injury? A study of trauma in civilian and military populations

Lead: Jim Elliott 

With Anna Boucher, Rita Shackel, Alex Broom, Luke Henderson, Marnee McKay, John Magnussen, Leanne Togher, Debra Shirley, Julie Hides, Jeff Rogers, Ken Weber, Trudy Rebbeck, Dave Walton 

Musculoskeletal (MSK) trauma or injury constitutes one of Australia’s highest injury economic and personal burdens, for both military and civilian populations.

In the military, injuries involving the MSK system account for the largest number of days lost to sick leave and restricted duty. And MSK conditions are the leading cause of civilian years lived with disability.

Alarmingly, this was the exact ranking in 1990, suggesting that research over the past quarter century has had little effect on reducing the burdens. Whilst the rate of recovery following MSK trauma is rapid for 50% of those injured, 30% will continue to report persistent mild/moderate long-term interference in daily life. The remaining 20% will suffer from severe disability over the life course.

Drawing together a unique team of health, medicine, legal and social science researchers, this project will advance scientific knowledge in the field of injury and recovery from trauma (broadly defined) through a study of around 1000 survivors of MSK trauma. We expect to change the status quo that assumes the post-traumatic recovery process is driven largely by psychosocial factors to one where additional pre-, peri-, and post-trauma biological, mental health and environmental factors can be identified, considered, and targeted in treatment.


How consumption leads to happiness: A meta-analysis of the experiential advantage

Lead: Belinda Barton (UTS)

With Natalina Zlatevska (UTS) and Tom van Laer

In 2003, Van Boven and Gilovich proposed “To Do or To Have? That is the Question”. Despite the relevance of this question, extant contributions show contrasting findings.

Integrating prior literature derived from a wide variety of disciplines, this project offers two studies to resolve these anomalies. Study 1 is a meta-analysis of two decades’ worth of studies testing 445 effect sizes from 131 published and unpublished studies. The findings show four psychological processes that explain why, as well as six moderating circumstances under which, consuming either experiences or material goods delivers greater happiness.

Study 2 conceives the material-experiential continuum through a large new consumer survey combining all 131 individual items that scholars had previously investigated. Our results support a curvilinear relationship between the material-experiential continuum and happiness.


There and back again: Bleed from story-enabled extraordinary experiences

Lead: Davide C. Orazi (Monash)

With Tom van Laer

What happens when consumers return from the many extraordinary experiences founded on a story? Stories often reveal new or alternative perspectives that clash with the mundane, which may make re-entry into the everyday more difficult.

Drawing on transportation theory, this project offers an ethnography of live-action role-players to understand how individuals return to the everyday after consuming story-enabled extraordinary experiences. The emic term ‘bleed’, for example, captures a distressing tension between the extraordinary and the everyday. Its intensity depends on both the narrative foundations of the experience bleeding out into the everyday, and consumers’ individual characteristics bleeding in the extraordinary.

Consumers returning from the same story-enabled experience thus do so through different trajectories that leave them with little, substantial, or extreme bleed, each holding a different potential for transforming the everyday.

Our model of bleed offers new insights on how, why, and when consumers return transformed from story-enabled extraordinary experiences, and has broader implications to understand consumers’ return from story-enabled experiential consumption.


Why do some, but not others, recover from whiplash?

Lead: Jim Elliott

With Todd Parrish, D. Mark Courtney, Mary Kwasny, Trudy Rebbeck, Dave Walton, Danielle Stone, Mark Gillett, Amith Shetty

This study expands our collaborative efforts towards improving our understanding of the neurophysiological mechanisms underlying delayed recovery following whiplash from a motor vehicle collision. 

We use advanced magnetic resonance imaging applications for early detection of whole-body muscle degeneration and provide evidence to establish that neural cell apoptosis from a mild incomplete cervical spinal cord injury may contribute to muscular degeneration, and poor functional recovery following a non-castastrophic injury from a motor vehicle collision. 


MRI and machine learning following spinal cord injury 

Lead: Jim Elliott

With Jim Elliott, Ken Weber, Jeff Berliner

This study proposes that early axial spinal cord MRI sequences could be used to identify neuro-prognostic biomarkers to improve the prediction of walking recovery and specific motor return of individuals following spinal cord injury. Successful completion of this research will enhance the health, productivity, independence, and quality of life of people with physical disabilities. 

 


CRASH – CRAsh reconstruction and the systematic understanding of human health following whiplash

Lead: Jim Elliott

With Trudy Rebbeck, Kate Curtis, John Magnussen, Julie Brown, Gunter Siegmund, Mark Gillett, Amith Shetty, Marg Fry, Dave Walton, Luke Henderson

In the CRASH study we will investigate promising mechanisms in 150 people with whiplash including: pre-existing vulnerabilities, levels of peri- and post-traumatic stress-based inflammatory markers and post-traumatic functional MRI markers of altered brain connectivity. Further we will gather objective data on injury severity using contemporary event  data recorders (EDR’s) that record technical vehicle and occupant information seconds before, during, and after a collision for the purpose of monitoring and assessing vehicle safety and system performance.  


MuscleMap

Lead: Jim Elliott

With Marnee McKay, Josh Burns, Ken Weber, Dave Walton, Steve Meikle, John Magnussen, Mark Hancock

This research will have considerable clinical impact as a world-first normative reference dataset of age-related muscle composition using automated muscle classification and segmentation with deep learning algorithms (machine learning).

We further propose the development of a coordinated global Muscle Alliance Portal (gMAP) towards developing an open-source platform with a suite of analysis tools (segmentation, registration and calculation) optimised for bodily muscles acquired with MRI. 


Harnessing data for better health 

Lead: Jim Elliott

With Marnee McKay, Ken Weber, Dave Walton

The primary goal of this innovative proposal is to introduce – for the first time – a new clinical reasoning framework into the electronic medical record (EMR) for patients with acute musculoskeletal injury/trauma.

This framework will integrate existing individual EMR data into a radar plot. This is a simple, visual presentation of clinical results, that can assist treating clinicians in interpreting complex clinical patterns on a patient-by-patient basis. This will improve quality of care by generating better individualised treatment plans for these patients.

Due to the complex and multi-system nature of these conditions, establishing an accurate individual prognostic profile can be challenging for even the most experienced clinician. Patients also likely to visit many different clinicians from different disciplines, and therefore have a large volume of detail in their medical record, which is possibly repetitious or, even worse, presumed disconnected and not consolidated for overall patient management.

This is a challenge for clinicians to read and absorb within the time constraints of their workload, yet presents an ideal opportunity for automated analytics, due to the large amount of good quality clinical data in the EMR for these patients.


Open society, common purpose

Leads: Tim Soutphommasane and Marc Stears

This independent taskforce is investigating how Australia can re-engage with the world in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. To be prosperous, fair and strong, Australia must be open to the world while ensuring it can build on its public health achievements in managing the pandemic. Yet how must Australia do this, when borders have yet to re-open? And how must Australia ensure that it strengthens its social cohesion and solidarity?

This project addresses these questions with combined input of representatives from academia, business, the legal profession and civil society.


Brain tissue resource centre for alcohol research

Leads: Lead: Greg Sutherland

With: Jillian Kril

The NSW Brain tissue Resource Centre (BTRC) in the Charles Perkins Centre is an NIH-funded human post-mortem brain tissue bank facilitating research and understanding into the effects of alcohol addiction on the brain. This tissue from Australian donors goes to researchers world-wide and particularly in the US.

Along with providing brain tissue for alcohol research we have a donor program  called ‘Using our Brains” where 600 community volunteers have signed up to provide neurologically normal tissue for research in the future. While our in-house research uses transcriptomics and lipidomics to understand why white matter is relatively more affected by chronic alcohol intoxication.


Microglia activation and TLR-induced neurodegeneration by alcohol promotes progression of alzheimer pathology

Leads: Greg Sutherland

With Ellis Patrick and Leon Coleman and Fulton Crews (University of North Carolina)

This NIH-funded project uses human post-mortem brain tissue and single cell (nuclei) transcriptomics to test the hypothesis that alcohol use in adolescence and early adult life primes microglia, the brain’s immune cells’ to promote Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in later life.

The CPC-based brain bank NSW Brain tissue Resource Centre (BTRC) and the Victoria Brain Bank at the Florey Centre will supply brain tissue from persons affected by both alcohol use disorder (AUD) and AD but also from brain regions that we know are susceptible to one disease or the other. We intend to use single cell transcriptomics to find the earliest signs of changes in microglia in alcoholics in brain regions most susceptible to AD like the hippocampus.


Brain single-nuclei and iPS-derived cells transcriptomic analysis to define the contribution of neuronal and glial pathways in alzheimer’s disease

Leads: Greg Sutherland

With Oscar Harari, Carlos Cruchaga, Celeste Karch and Bruno Benitez (University of Washington)

The CPC-based brain bank NSW Brain tissue Resource Centre (BTRC) and the Victoria Brain Bank at the Florey Centre will supply brain tissue from persons affected by Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and controls for this NIH-funded project. The brain region is the superior parietal cortex that has plaques and tangles, the protein inclusions that define AD, but no neuronal loss.

This is important as a proportion of sick neurons will be available to be detected by single cell transcriptomics. Their gene expression signature should contain some of the earliest signals of neuron dysfunction in AD and provide new therapeutic targets for drugs that prevent the neuron loss that manifests as dementia.

Our laboratory will also provide quantitation of the different brain cells and plaques and tangles across different donors so genes of interest can be correlated with either plaques or microglial sub-types, for example, to gain greater clarity from the complex transcriptomic data.