The Hunter Children’s Research Foundation (HCRF) raises funds for important research into children’s terminal and debilitating illnesses. Formed in 1996, the Foundation is authorised to fundraise by HMRI and is also affiliated with HNEkidshealth – Children, Young People and Families.
Money raised by HCRF stays in the Hunter to fund children’s research projects in areas like asthma, cancer, cystic fibrosis, diabetes and sleep disorders – illnesses that can affect any family at any time.
HCRF provides funds for essential research equipment, to employ research support staff and fund research grants for new and ongoing research. It is overseen by an independent committee, the Children Young People & Families Research Executive, who guides the assessment and allocation of funding for children’s research, in collaboration with HMRI.
The ReaCH 200 is a group of local businesses and individuals who to contribute to children’s research through HCRF. HCRF also holds its own fundraising events, and receives proceeds from various charity functions, raffles and sponsorships.
In 2011, Australian fashion icon Jennifer Hawkins and retired paediatrician (turned artist) Dr Cliff Hosking were announced as dual Patrons of HCRF. In 2015, Michael and Sue Hagan, Matt Hall and Anna Weatherup were announced as HCRF Ambassadors to help spread the word and why it is so important to support children’s medical research.
Celebrating its 20th year of fundraising, the Hunter Children’s Research Foundation (HCRF) recently provided funding for a further three project grants to improve children's health.
Dr Adam Collison will investigate the role of microbiome development in the early origins of asthma. He says there is emerging evidence that bacteria in the infant’s gut can impact immune function and contribute to the immune responses seen in asthma. In this study, Dr Collison will investigate if there are differences in the types of bacteria and the timing of colonisation through the first year of life.
Dr Komal Vora will undertake a study in a complex genetic disorder known as Prader-Willi Syndrome that affects development and growth of the child, manifesting as cognitive disability, obesity, short stature and a chronic feeling of hunger. There is conflicting evidence linking secondary thyroid disease to Prader-Willi Syndrome, and the decision whether or not to treat patients with thyroxine (a hormone replacement therapy) is left to the clinician.
Dr Vora’s team aims to develop a minimally-invasive diagnostic test to aid with clinical diagnosis and treatment strategy for secondary hypothyroidism in children with PWS. The researchers hypothesise that serum miRNAs may represent a novel class of biomarker.
Dr Scott Nightingale aims to develop an evidence-based internet intervention to improve symptoms, functioning and health-related quality of life in children with functional abdominal pain.
Functional abdominal pain is one of the most frequently occurring pain syndromes in childhood, impacting school attendance, health-care needs and quality of life. Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy, or CBT, is one of a few effective therapies.
“CBT has traditionally involved one-on-one meetings between the patient and their parent/carer and a psychologist or counsellor trained in CBT methods, which can be costly and difficult to access, particularly as multiple sessions are required,” Dr Nightingale said.
He believes an internet-based intervention may be particularly suited for younger populations who are well accustomed to electronic forms of communication, with the advantage of consistency, cost-efficiency and easy accessibility.
The Awards brought the total amount of HCRF research funding since 1996 to over $1.3 million. Projects have included everything from asthma to ear infections, epilepsy and diabetes.
In February 2018, HCRF awarded their first fellowship to Dr Megan Jensen. Funding for the three year Peggy Lang Early Career Researcher Fellowship funding came from the late Peggy Lang, who was unmarried and didn’t have children of her own but wanted to support paediatric research. Dr Jensen is a respiratory researcher focussed on using nutrition to improve airway function in children.
This brings the total amount of HCRF research funding since 1996 to over $1.465m and together with the funds from the Peggy Lang Fellowship bequest a total of $2m has now been raised. A wonderful milestone for HCRF.
Support or connect with the Hunter Children’s Research Foundation:
- Follow HCRF on Facebook
- For more information, please call Lorraine Gardner, HCRF Secretary/Treasurer, on 0416 044 754.
In addition to the grants listed below, during 2017 HCRF in conjunction with the University of Newcastle’s Priority Research Centre Grow Up Well funded the following project grants:
- Dr Malcolm Starkey - Understanding the role of Group 2 Innate Lymphoid Cells (ILC2s) in paediatric urinary tract infections
- Dr Adam Collison - Role of circRNAs in human eosinophilic Oesophagitis - a novel assessment of disease pathogenesis with potential diagnostic and therapeutic benefit
- Dr Vanessa Murphy - Management of asthma during pregnancy, early life nutrition and offspring respiratory outcomes at age 3
- Professor Joerg Mattes - Grow Well Smoke Free: A double-blind randomised placebo-controlled trial in pregnancy
Internationally, 41 million children aged 0-5 years were overweight or obese in 2016(1). Poor nutrition is one of the most important risk factors for the development of obesity(2). As early childhood is a formative time for developing healthy eating behaviours, population health strategies that support children to eat better are of upmost importance(3).
Urinary leakage in the daytime, feeling of urgency to urinate and frequent urination are common and often incapacitating problems in school-aged children. If affects 5-10% of healthy, otherwise normal children and significantly disrupts their day-to-day life and learning.(6,7) This has consequences for mental health and healthy development.
Asthma affects one in eight children in Australia and is the leading cause of hospitalisations and emergency visits, with an estimated annual health care cost of more than 24 billion Australian dollars in 2015. Asthma is the most common medical complication in pregnancy and is strongly associated with the development of childhood asthma. ntion strategy for asthma.
Children’s participation in at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) per day is essential for their healthy growth and development[ and the prevention of future chronic disease. Despite this, international research indicates that many school-aged children, in particularly girls, are not sufficiently active. It is estimated that girls are between 17-19% less active than boys with differences beginning from as young as 8 years. Improving physical activity during childhood, particularly among girls, has been identified as a public health priority.
The left atrium (LA) is one of the four chambers of the heart. Its primary roles are to act as a holding chamber for blood returning from the lungs and to act as a pump to transport blood to the left ventricle of the heart, after which the blood flows to the body.
Cancer is the most common cause of childhood disease-related deaths, with leukaemia the most common childhood cancer in Australia. The two most common forms of leukaemia in children are acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) and acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). Whilst remission is achievable in over 95% of ALL cases, 1/3 of patients will relapse within 5 to 10 years, and these children will not be long-term survivors. AML accounts for 20% of all childhood leukaemias, and the outlook for children diagnosed with AML is much worse, with only approximately half of children surviving for 5 years post-diagnosis.
Dr Scott Nightingale, Dr Milena Heinsch, Associate Professor Maria Kangas (Macquarie University), Professor Mike Jones (Macquarie University)
Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy, or CBT, is one of the few effective therapies for children with functional abdominal pain. But CBT sessions can be costly and difficult to access, particularly as multiple sessions are required.
Dr Komal Vora, A/Professor Patricia Crock, Dr Vicki Maltby
HCRF has funded Dr Komal Vora’s study into Prader-Willi Syndrome – a complex genetic disorder that affects development and growth of the child, manifesting as cognitive disability, obesity, short stature and a chronic feeling of hunger.
Children born to mothers with asthma are three times more likely to develop asthma themselves than those with asthmatic fathers, which suggests that a risk factor extends beyond genetics. There is emerging evidence that bacteria in the infant’s gut can impact immune function and contribute to the types of immune responses that are seen in asthma.
Preterm birth continues to be a major health problem throughout the world.
Dr Adam Collison, Dr Rani Bhatia
While symptoms of food allergy range from mild to severe, patients with peanut allergy are at the highest risk of a potentially life threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis affecting up to half of all individuals who are allergic to peanut.
Engaging fathers to improve physical activity levels and social-emotional well-being in their daughters
Children’s screen-time is high. The time that young people spend sedentary, especially the time they spend alone watching television and using computers, is a major public health issue.
Bronchiolitis is a very common life-threatening virus infection of the terminal airways affecting infants only.
The thyroid gland is responsible for the secretion of hormones involved in growth, sleep patterns, and cognitive development.
This project will identify maternal health factors (demographic, health bejaviour, physical and mental health, perceived stress and life events) that are risk factors for low birth weight.
Dr Adam Collison, Dr Rani Bhatia
Six to eight percent of children suffer from clinically relevant food allergy and the prevalence is increasing worldwide(1-3).
Dr Donald Anderson, Dr Bruce King, Hphelan, Associate Professor P Cook, Mneylan, Carmel Smart
Dr Jay Horvat, Professor Phil Hansbro
Dr Donald Anderson, Dr Bruce King, Associate Professor Pcook, Mneylan, Carmel Smart
Dr Rick Thorne, Charles de Bock, Lisa Lincz
Associate Professor Clare Collins, Dr Ian Wright
Dr Ian Wright
Professor Caroline Blackwell
Professor Patricia Crock
Professor Peter Gibson, Dr BJ Whitehead, Professor M Hensley
Mr Richard Fletcher, Dr DR Keatinge
Dr Clare Collins, Dr J Warren
Dr Ian Wright, Dr VL Clifton
Dr Mark Chorlton, Dr Frini Karayanidis, Prof K Nunn
Professor Patricia Crock
Professor Peter Gibson, Dr B Whitehead, Professor M Hensley
Associate Professor John Stuart, Professor C Blackwell
Dr Michelle Adams, Dr MD Lucock, Associate Professor J Stuart
Professor Gillian Turner, Dr Lynn Banna
Professor Diana Keatinge, Dr C Fowler
Dr Richard Nicholson, Dr BR King
Dr John Stuart, Professor C Blackwell
Dr Tamas Zaka, Dr IMR Wright
Dr G Anderson, Sr E Nunn
Dr Roger Smith, Dr Mick Hunter
Dr Ian Wright, Professor W Giles
Dr Christopher Wake, Dr IMR Wright
Ms A Prigg, Dr G Vimpani
Dr Bruce Whitehead, Dr JM Hilton
Dr Karen Drysdale, Mr W Levick
Dr Karen Drysdale, Mr W Levick
Dr Maree Gleeson
Dr John Wiggers, Ms R Considine