Brain neurones studies by the Cerebral Palsy alliance research group

Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute

Working to prevent, treat and cure cerebral palsy

The Cerebral Palsy Alliance research program aims to prevent and cure cerebral palsy as well as find innovative new treatments and interventions.  

Cerebral Palsy Alliance photo

What is cerebral palsy?

Our dedicated team of researchers work across disciplines to conduct cutting-edge research and translate research findings into practice.

Cerebral palsy is a complex condition affecting more than 17 million people worldwide. It affects people in different ways. Body movement, muscle control, muscle coordination and tone, posture and balance are impaired. People who have cerebral palsy may also have visual, healring speech and intellectual impairments, and epilepsy. It is caused by injury, or mal-development of the developing brain resulting from a combination of events before, during or after birth. There is no single cause or outcome of cerebral palsy, therefore multi-disciplinary expertise is needed.

Our story

Our Research Institute, founded in 2005, employs researchers and clinicians representing a range of disciplines with extensive experience in the field. In 2009 Cerebral Palsy Alliance appointed Professor Nadia Badawi AM as the Macquarie Group Foundation Chair of Cerebral Palsy at Sydney Medical School. In 2015, we formed an affiliation with the Discipline of Child and Adolescent Health, and the Brain and Mind Centre, at the University of Sydney. In 2017, Associate Professor Alistair McEwan was appointed as the Ainsworth Chair of Technology and Innovation in the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies. Professor Iona Novak is a founding member and our Head of Research.

Areas of research

Our broad program of research investigates innovative ways to diagnose, assess, treat, prevent and cure cerebral palsy. Here is a selection of some of our current projects:

Collaborative networks

CP Quest formed to involve people living with cerebral palsy and their families in decisions about this area of research now and in the future. If you or a family member have cerebral palsy, please contact us to get involved.

We are dedicated to improving outcomes for people with cerebral palsy through a global collaborative effort. To do this, we formed IMPACT for CP, an international network of scientists, researchers, clinicians and families committed to this mission.  

Emerging evidence suggests that up to 35% of cases could have a genetic component. To identify the variation that may contribute to cerebral palsy requires an enormous amount of data. Thus the preliminary focus of the ICPGC is on the creation of a mega database and online platform to allow for pooling and standardising of international cerebral palsy genomics research. The ICPGC currently consists of forty researchers from across the globe, who are led by a Governance Committee.

Xcellerate is an Australian-American research consortium focused on accelerating stem cell therapy in cerebral palsy. It aims to raise USD20 million over five years to fund research using three types of cells: umbilical cord blood, mesenchymal, and induced neural progenitor stem cells. Cerebral Palsy Alliance is partnering with Cell Care on a clinical trial that offers sibling cord blood therapy to cerebral palsy patients at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute.

Interventions and best practice

This randomised control trial will explore the impact of an early intervention program based on motor learning principles and environmental enrichment, as well as to measure the motor outcomes of infants identified as being at high risk of cerebral palsy.

This randomised controlled trial will determine whether wearing a functional splint as well as motor training (using the CO-OP approach) improves arm and hand movement and use in children with neurological conditions.

This study takes the first steps towards generating new knowledge about eye-gaze technology and its potential to promote early communication skills in young children with dyskinetic cerebral palsy.

Translating research into practice

The aim of this project is to develop and maintain the 'About Cerebral Palsy' website that contains research-based information for people with cerebral palsy and their families, clinicians, service providers and funding agencies.

Active surveillance and specialised assessments

We collect information across many aspects of a person’s life including physical status, functional and cognitive abilities, emotional health and well-being. This information is collated in an electronic database and integrated with the CP Register. Individualised reports are provided to help plan and provide appropriate interventions.

Our aim is to train Australian doctors and allied health practitioners in the Prechtl’s Qualitative Assessment of General Movements (GMs), an essential tool for the early detection of cerebral palsy.

Cerebral Palsy registers

The purpose of the Cerebral Palsy Registers is to monitor the incidence and prevalence of cerebral palsy, gain further understanding about its causal factors, evaluate preventive strategies and assist in planning services. Our research institute hosts and maintains the NSW/ACT and Australian Cerebral Palsy Registers. We are also collaborating with international researchers around the establishment of registers in other countries for example Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

This is a data linkage project with ten CP Registers and ten Congenital Anomaly Registers across Europe and Australia.

This large study investigates the association between assisted reproductive technology and cerebral palsy using register data.

Cerebral Palsy Alliance: grants available

In 2005, Cerebral Palsy Alliance established a research foundation to fund research from Australia and overseas. The aim was to improve lives affected by cerebral palsy by finding new and better ways of diagnosing, treating, preventing and ultimately curing the condition.

Each year we invest millions of dollars in a range of cerebral palsy research projects. Learn more about how our grant program can support your research project.


Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute

Dr Maria McNamara

Research manager