Just the facts

27 October 2023
Ideas at the centre of research
Dealing with vast amounts of information is just another day at the office for our researchers and academics. Here, three researchers from the Westmead Health Precinct each explain an idea at the centre of their current work, as we mark 45 years of its partnership with the University of Sydney.

On matters of the heart

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in Australia. However, an estimated 50 to 80 percent of heart attacks and strokes can be prevented. Our research harnesses digital health, including artificial intelligence (AI), to develop solutions to prevent CVD. Digital health programs can help to modify behaviours, monitor risk factors, and provide timely tips and reminders to keep people on track in self-managing their own health. Trials have shown that these solutions improve cardiovascular health outcomes, with the potential to be scaled up to help the population at large, but we’re still working on how we can change the health system so that more people can access them.

Professor Clara Chow AM 
(MBBS ’98, PhD (Epi/IntPH) ’08), FRACP, FCSANZ, FESC, GAICD)

Cardiologist and Academic Director of Westmead Applied Research Centre, Chow has been passionate about preventing heart disease her entire career. Inequity has always bugged her, and raising awareness about the gaps has been a goal of both her research and public life, including her recent role as the first female president of the Cardiac Society Australia and New Zealand.

On childhood cancer

More children are surviving brain cancer and leukaemia, due to medical advances, but they can be left with issues that affect their long-term development. This can lead to difficulties developing communication skills or learning to read and write, and can affect relationships, schooling and career prospects. Some children also experience trouble with swallowing and eating that can be life-threatening. We have developed world-first guidelines aimed at improving quality of life, communication and swallowing outcomes for children who survive cancer. This includes providing follow-up care and education for affected families, and ensuring children receive timely intervention from diagnosis until the end of adolescence. 

Associate Professor Kimberley Docking
(GradCertEd Studies ’20)

Docking is Head of the Discipline of Speech Pathology, Director of NeuroKids Research Laboratory, and a speech pathologist of two decades’ experience in paediatric rehabilitation in children’s hospitals, education and private practice. Her research has made important contributions to understanding acquired language disorders in cancer and brain injury.

On nursing in aged care

Registered Nurses play an essential role in residential aged care, where they are responsible for providing critical and timely care to residents with complex health needs. The importance of this role has been further underscored by the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused disproportionate harm to the older population. My research seeks to equip nurses with the evidence-based tools and skills they need to better assess and care for their patients. We are currently adapting the highly successful emergency nursing framework HIRAIDTM for the aged care sector, which aims to improve resident outcomes by reducing rates of clinical deterioration and unnecessary hospital transfers. 

Professor Ramon Z. Shaban

The recent pandemic placed tremendous pressures on the healthcare and aged care sectors. As the University’s Clinical Chair of Communicable Diseases Control and Infection Prevention, Shaban aims to improve the quality and safety of care through bettering nursing assessment, and infection prevention and control practices.

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