Generous $5 million gift to fast-track child health research and oversee an Australian-first study of 10,000 couples and their children.
Landmark research on child health will be fast-tracked into real-world solutions thanks to a $5 million gift to the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre from the Financial Markets Foundation for Children.
The Financial Markets Foundation for Children Chair of Translational Childhood Medicine will accelerate the pace at which discoveries become solutions, and will work across the University and its affiliated hospitals to transform research into new treatments and therapies, innovative devices, better practices and new lifestyle choices.
“We are delighted that the financial markets community has given its support to this pioneering research. The outstanding leadership and generosity demonstrated by the Financial Markets Foundation for Children will have a transformative effect on research into the factors impacting children’s health” said Belinda Hutchinson AM, Chancellor of the University of Sydney.
The Chair will also oversee an Australian-first study of 10,000 couples and their children, which will show in unprecedented detail how biology interacts with environment and lifestyle to affect a child’s health. The study will chart the profound influence on a child’s health of the health of their parents, their environment in-utero, and their environment in the first years of life.
“We know that health in early life and pre-conception has an enormous influence on health in later life, to the extent that a woman’s health before pregnancy could affect not only her future child, but also the health of her future grandchild,” said Professor Stephen Simpson, Academic Director of the Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney.
“To harness this crucial period in the development of health outcomes could have a profound impact on our rising levels of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and related conditions.”
One in four Australian children aged five to 17 is overweight or obese, and in young children there has been a sharp rise in the incidence of diabetes, cardiovascular disease risk factors, and numerous other disorders.
The new position, which will also work with the Children’s Hospital Westmead, responds to an increasing body of evidence pointing to the correlation between declining child health and the rising prevalence of obesity, the increased consumption of nutritionally poor foods, and the decline in physical activity of parents.
“The Financial Markets Foundation for Children Chair of Translational Childhood Medicine is an investment in the future of millions of Australians,” said Professor Bruce Robinson, Dean of Sydney Medical School.
“This generous gift from the Financial Markets Foundation for Children will allow us to turn our world-leading research into tangible outcomes that benefit as many children as possible, as quickly as possible.”
Research carried out through a partnership between the Matilda Centre, Black Dog Institute and Everymind finds a nationally coordinated and long-term approach is required for prevention research and implementation.