Asthma is a common and often disabling chronic disease that makes breathing difficult. Approximately 3 million Australians have asthma – 10% of the population. Asthma causes significant lifetime disability, has a high disease burden, and caused 455 deaths in Australia in 2016. Estimated direct and indirect costs to the Australian Government and businesses are $24.7 billion due to health care costs, productivity loss, reduced quality of life and premature death (Deloitte Access Economics, “Hidden Costs of Asthma”, 2015). Much of this burden comes from people with severe asthma who do not have control of their asthma symptoms despite high-dose treatment. Severe asthma is the focus of my research.

HMRI houses world-leaders in severe asthma and other obstructive airway diseases. This productive and comprehensive research programme crosses the translation continuum, from bench to bedside. The research aims to advance understanding of the burden of disease, identify biomarkers and improve assessment tools, and develop and implement innovative treatment approaches. 

I am involved in several projects that focus on understanding the disease burden of severe asthma and identifying effective and efficient management strategies in a precision medicine framework. Precision medicine involves the personalisation of healthcare to an individual’s unique profile of symptoms and conditions. Specifically, in my research I examine the Australasian severe asthma registry and clinical trials data to evaluate:
(1) Reduced workplace productivity of people with severe asthma.
(2) Patterns of airway characteristics, comorbidity and risk factors that predict adverse health outcomes or, when treated, most profoundly improve quality of life in people with airway disease.
(3) How medications, such as macrolide antibiotics, influence outcomes in severe asthma.

Ultimately, this research contributes to improving outcomes for people with severe asthma and other obstructive airway diseases via effective personalised, evidence-based management that alleviates asthma symptoms and enhances overall quality of life.

Researchers 

Sarah Hiles

Project type 
Travel Grant
Year of funding 
2018