About Professor Kate Steinbeck

Adolescent medicine is a ‘youthful’ specialty compared to paediatrics and adult medicine. There is a scientific imperative to expand the evidence base in critical areas of adolescent medicine in order to change health trajectories in adolescence for the better. Important research areas for me and my team are how puberty hormones affect adolescent health and wellbeing, the impact of chronic physical illness on health and wellbeing, and adolescents who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

I am an endocrinologist and adolescent physician, and hold the inaugural Medical Foundation Chair in Adolescent Medicine, based at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead.

I am the foundation Chair and Professor in Adolescent Medicine, Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney and senior staff specialist in the Department of Adolescent Medicine at the Children's Hospital at Westmead. Prior to this appointment in 2010 I worked in adolescent and young adult medicine and clinical research for over 20 years, as well as an adolescent endocrinologist. As an adult trained physician working in adolescent medicine I am well aware of adolescent health issues that extend beyond paediatric care, and of the interface between physical and mental health. I have a strong network with other adolescent researchers both nationally and internationally, and bring researchers from different backgrounds together. Adolescent medical research is inter-disciplinary. One of the best examples of this in my research program is the ARCHER (Adolescent Rural Cohort, Hormone, Health, Education, Environment and Relationships) longitudinal study based in Dubbo and Orange at the Schools of Rural Health for which I am chief investigator. The primary question to be answered by this cohort is "what is the true effect of puberty hormones on adolescent health, wellbeing and behaviour"? - a question that has never been answered. The cohort is fully recruited and over the next three years will produce data that provide enormous research opportunities in many fields of adolescent health, including mental health, obesity and insulin resistance, resilience and social competency, risk taking, sleep, social media and parenting. ARCHER is producing a large biobank of blood and urine samples, which allow researchers to ask and answer many questions about the impacts of puberty. These research opportunities are for both Sydney based post-graduate students and also importantly for post-graduate students who would like to be rurally based. In my own Academic Department of Adolescent Medicine I am responsible for the supervision of the two Marie Bashir Clinical Research Fellowships in Adolescent Health - full annual Fellowships which are open to medical and non-medical graduates. I have supervised PhD students, Masters and Honours students, and Summer Scholar students. I also head clinical research within the Department of Adolescent Medicine at Children's Hospital at Westmead. Adolescents and youth are failing to maintain the health benefits that have been achieved by younger children over the last few decades. To change this situation research is needed in many areas, and researchers need to advocate for the importance of doing such research that helps to make a real difference to young people's lives. There is a tendency to assume that somehow adolescents will ‘grow out' of their health problems when the evidence suggest that adolescence is the last major chance to move health trajectories upwards - an opportunity not to be lost. My team is keen to develop the skills of researchers to meet the challenges of undertaking research in adolescents and young people. We are able to undertake specific workshops for individual research groups and to answer individual researcher questions. We are working on the use of biological samples, other than blood, in adolescent research and this includes saliva.

At the Children's Hospital at Westmead there are adolescent research programs available in transition from paediatric to adult care in chronic illness, therapy adherence and self-management in chronic illness, rehabilitation and family interventions in chronic and complex illness, the endocrine problems in long term survivors of childhood cancer, adolescents in emergency departments and in interventions for adolescent substance use. I also collaborate in obesity research at The Children's Hospital at Westmead, and with the Faculty of Health Sciences and the Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise and Eating Disorders.
I maintain a clinical practice in adolescent and adult cystic fibrosis endocrinology at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, where there is a research opportunity for early interventions in impaired glucose tolerance and post-transplant diabetes.
Many adolescents are invisible to or under-served by the health system and this includes young people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. The Academic Department of Adolescent Medicine is assisting youth services to integrate evaluation and research into their programs in order to provide optimal services for these young people and to provide the evidence required to seek further resourcing. These studies will be of interest to researchers who want to work with young people but who would prefer not to be in researching in traditional clinical areas or institutions. It is best to contact me by email with any questions around our research programs and opportunities or make an appointment to see me by contacting my executive and research assistant, Tina Cunningham on +612 9845 2507

Selected publications

For a comprehensive list of Professor Steinbeck's publicatons, please visit her Sydney Medical School profile page.