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Research_

Research at the School of Medical Sciences

Tackling global issues from the molecule to large population studies
We aim to improve overall human health by investigating how the human body functions, the maintenance of health and the ways we can treat and prevent disease using pharmacological treatment.

Research highlights

  • Partnership to develop 'variant-proof' COVID-19 vaccine
    The University of Sydney is a lead partner in an international consortium awarded up to US$19.3 million by The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations to support the development of a 'variant-proof' SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate. Lead University of Sydney investigator Professor Jamie Triccas said the collaboration aims to deliver safe, affordable and highly effective vaccines to combat existing and future SARS-CoV-2 variants.

  • Meat-eating link to inflammation, worse gut health and MS
    Eating more meat and changes in the blood, immune system and gut ecology correlate with worse MS symptoms, according to a longitudinal study of 49 people that used advanced multi-OMICS to investigate complex relationships. Associate Professor Laura Piccio, initially from Washington University and now with the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Medicine and Health, collaborated with Dr Yanjiao Zhou at the University of Connecticut (UConn Health) School of Medicine to study the gut microbiome, immune systems, diet and blood metabolites in 25 MS patients and 24 healthy controls.

About medical sciences research

With more than 100 active research laboratories, medical sciences research at the University of Sydney studies the cause and treatment of diseases, with the aim of addressing the most important global issues. 

Our research takes a "bench to bedside" approach with projects that range from basic research at the molecular level, through to the application and translation of research findings in a clinical setting. 

Major research areas

The School of Medical Sciences (SOMS) has seven multidisciplinary research themes that reflect the strength, diversity and depth of our research. Our research themes include Biomedical Informatics and Digital Health, Chronic Diseases, Molecular Biomedicine, Infection, Immunity and Inflammation, Musculoskeletal Science, Neuroscience, and Education and Innovation. These are key areas of importance to our Australian community and reflects our partnership with our key stakeholders such as research institutes, local health district partners, funders and importantly students.

We conduct research across several Faculty of Medicine and Health's major research themes.

Biomedical Informatics and Digital Health (BIDH) was established in 2020 to pursue a future in which health data and information are seamlessly integrated into biomedical discovery and the continuous improvement of health and healthcare delivery. BIDH is now the largest comprehensive teaching and research group of its kind in Australia.

Our theme’s research focus is on developing, applying, implementing, and evaluating informatics tools used to support human health. Our work spans the full range of research areas in biomedical informatics and digital health—applications in omics and precision medicine, applied machine learning and other computational methods applied to data from patients and people in the community, to the implementation and evaluation of digital health technologies.

Our academics, postgraduate scholars, affiliated clinicians, and other professionals draw on a diverse set of multidisciplinary strengths across health, medicine, science, and engineering to produce high-quality research and translate research into changes in practice and policy. We have research groups working in cyberpsychology and virtual reality, human factors research, implementation science, bioinformatics, wearables and sensors, clinical pharmacology, and applied machine learning and data science.

We also support a range of faculty-wide research and education initiatives including a Working Group responsible for the integration of digital health teaching across all health profession degrees in the Faculty of Medicine and Health, the university’s first credited micro-credential, the Master of Digital Health and Data Science run jointly with the School of Computer Science, and the Digital Health and Informatics Network, with more than 970 members.

Our leaders

Associate Professor Adam Dunn (Theme Leader)

Professor Melissa Baysari

Associate Professor Andrew Campbell

Research Groups

Cyberpsychology Research Group

Digital Health Human Factors Research Group

 

Cancer cells exhibit specific hallmarks that distinguish them from normal cells, including an unrestrained capacity to divide, survive and spread throughout the body. 

The mission of the Cancer Research Theme is to pursue excellence in education and research in the field of cancer. Our overall and collective aim is to identify and describe the mechanisms that drive the development, progression and dissemination of human tumours and to exploit this information to develop new biomarkers and therapeutic strategies.

Our researchers perform world-class research in numerous cancer-related disciplines and investigate various types of human malignancies. We are committed to the training of the next generations of internationally competitive cancer researchers and promote multi-disciplinary networks addressing cancer-related questions both internally and externally, interacting with healthcare professionals and the broader community.

Our leaders

Professor Lenka Munoz (Theme Leader)

Chronic diseases are common, long-lasting conditions with major social and economic consequences. Over fifty per cent of hospitalization in Australia are due to chronic diseases and the burden on the healthcare system is significant with $1.1 trillion USD spent on chronic disease management in the USA alone in 2016. The ten major chronic diseases listed by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare include arthritis, asthma, back pain, cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, mental health conditions and osteoporosis.

Our theme’s focus is to develop better basic and clinical understanding, diagnosis and treatments for chronic diseases. Improved insights into the causes and mechanisms underlying these diseases, as well as the pathological processes that progress and sustain them, are critical for the design of better preventive and therapeutic strategies including, drug treatments and implants.

Our diverse group of academics approach this challenge with a wide array of expertise encompassing molecular, developmental and cellular physiology, genomics, immunology, metabolomics, proteomics, bioengineering but also physical activity and nutrition. Taking a multi-disciplinary approach, we are developing a research pipeline to progress new solutions from discovery, through pre-clinical validation towards better translational outcomes. In this way, our theme aims to develop new approaches to reduce the impact of chronic diseases.

Our theme is supported by exceptional research labs and teaching spaces including the Charles Perkins Centre, Kolling Institute and Westmead.

Our leaders

Professor Peter Thorn (Theme Leader)

Associate Professor Steven Wise

Professor Vanessa Hayes

Associate Professor Laurence Macia

The aim of the Education Innovation (EI) Theme is to develop, foster and support quality evidence based-research into the education initiatives that place the School of Medical Sciences as a leader in medical science education.

We play a key role in developing and adapting innovative and effective curriculum in an ever-evolving higher education landscape. Integral to the EI theme is the Media Lab, our research hub that provides the platform for exploration, training and consolidation using existing and emerging technologies and other educational strategies. ​​​​​​​

The EI Theme draws on our already established and productive institutional, national and international networks to provide multiple opportunities for our members, colleagues and students to learn new ways or refine existing effective practice so that it is fit for purpose. This is an intentionally hands-on and learning-by-doing collaborative environment. Individuals or groups are supported in their learning experience by domain-specific experts in a co-design and peer-to-peer manner. We conduct research into ways of improving, sustaining, scaling and managing the ways in which we learn and teach. This research and refinement is essential to retain currency and underpin our reputation for educational excellence.

Our leaders

Professor Philip Poronnik (Theme Leader)

Dr Melissa Cameron

The Infection, Immunity and Inflammation Theme comprises researchers across the central, western and northern precincts. Our multidisciplinary research expertise lies in the study of a range of autoimmune and pathogen driven diseases and host immunological responses to these conditions especially inflammation. Our Theme brings together both basic science and clinician researchers, with the goal of generating the most comprehensive definition of key determinants that underpin these diseases. 

Our research focuses on the interplay between the host immune system and a wide range of medically important human diseases. By understanding the mechanisms that enable the development of both infectious and non-infectious diseases, as we all as the inflammatory conditions that develop, we can provide a rational basis for the development of novel treatments, immunotherapies, vaccines and other preventative measures to lessen the impact of such diseases on the human population.  

Members of the Infection, Immunity and Inflammation Theme teach students at both the undergraduate and postgraduate level, and bring their research experience to these teaching programs with the goal of fostering the development of the next generation of research leaders.

Our leaders

Professor Jamie Triccas (Theme Leader)

Associate Professor Andrew Harman

Associate Professor Barry Slobedman

The Molecular Biomedicine Research Theme focuses on understanding the structure, properties, and function of biomolecules, including proteins, peptides, DNA, RNA, lipids, carbohydrates, and metabolites, within the cellular environment. A deep understanding of this molecular and cellular orchestra allows us to better understand mechanisms of disease when one or more of the players is out of tune. We dissect molecules and cells put them back together in new ways as a powerful platform for innovating and designing new technologies, including diagnostics, cellular factories, therapeutics, chemical probes, chemical tools, and imaging agents. Our molecular and cellular discovery-based research uncovers new disease paradigms, disease targets, and treatment approaches.

Our theme brings together scientists from aligned disciplines, including chemical biology, structural and synthetic biology, chemistry, biophysics, stem cell genomics and developmental biology, redox biology, bioengineering and nanomedicine, which strengthens the reach and impact of our research. We work alongside clinical researchers to guide the value of our fundamental discoveries and knowledge gain in medicine and health.​​​​​​​

Our leaders

Professor Rachel Codd (Theme Leader)

Professor Renae Ryan

Professor Lenka Munoz

Professor Paul Witting

Neuroscience is a multidisciplinary theme whose research focus is understanding the structure and function of the nervous system and the underlying pathophysiology of neurological disorders. Applying cellular and molecular biology, genomics, neural imaging and integrated anatomical, physiological and pharmacological approaches in both humans and animal models, we aim to understand the fundamental properties of neurons, glia, neural circuits and integrated systems.

Our research goals are to apply both basic and clinical neuroscience research to translate or develop into novel therapies and clinical applications for nervous system disorders and to impact and improve health and well-being more broadly. The key translational target areas are neurocognitive, neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders; movement disorders; neuroinflammatory conditions; headache, pain and spinal cord injury.

Our leaders

Associate Professor Kevin Keay (Theme Leader)

Professor Kay Double

Dr Wendy Gold

Professor Glenda Halliday

Associate Professor John Kwok