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Research boost to improve stroke management in regional Australia

Feb 6 2017

Almost $2 million has been awarded to the University of Newcastle (UON) to support four new research projects, as part of the National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) funding outcomes.

The funding will allow the UON’s world-leading researchers to continue their ground-breaking work, in partnership with the Hunter Medical Research Institute. It includes two Partnership Projects and two Translating Research into Practice (TRIP) fellowships aimed at improving accessible healthcare.

Chris Levi to implement telehealth program to assist stroke sufferers

With almost $1 million, Conjoint Professor Chris Levi and his team will implement a telehealth assistance program in 20 regional sites across NSW and QLD to assist stroke sufferers, of which more than half are left disabled.

“Time is critical when it comes to responding to stroke, meaning the mortality rate is much higher in regional Australia due to decreased access to services and specialists.

“We will implement and evaluate an advanced video-conferencing telestroke solution and new brain-scanning techniques in regional hospitals to work closely with and support the doctors, nurses and radiographers.

“We hope the timely access to specialty treatment will assist in determining the most effective treatment and streamline the recovery process,” he said.

A second Partnership Project has been awarded to Associate Professor Luke Wolfenden who, with his team, has received $586,000 to investigate the effectiveness of mandatory physical activity programs in schools.

$354,000 will support two TRIP fellowships, awarded to:

  • Dr Nicole Nathan, School of Medicine and Public Health ($177,000), who will investigate increasing the implementation of a mandatory primary school physical activity policy.
  • Dr Megan Freund, School of Medicine and Public Health ($177,000), who will look at the effectiveness of systems-based intervention in increasing health assessments in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.

UON Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research and Innovation), Professor Kevin Hall, said the success was a vital boost for accessible healthcare in Australia, with an imperative focus on treatment for those in remote areas.

“Professor Levi and his team undertaking work in ensuring access to medical services across regional Australia is a crucial step in safeguarding equitable healthcare for all.

“I congratulate all those successful in this round of funding, and look forward to UON’s world-class research translating from our region to impact on a global scale,” he said.

The outcome is a welcome addition to the recent $10.8 million NHMRC funding to support 14 Project Grants and one Career Development Fellowship.

In addition to this, UON was awarded a further $5.6 million in support of a Senior Research Fellowship, Practitioner Fellowship and five Early Career Fellowships, as well as $2.2 million for an Indigenous Counselling and Nicotine (ICAN) QUIT in Pregnancy program in 2016.

View the full list of NHMRC grant recipients and their projects here

Conjoint Professor Chris Levi is the Director of Clinical Research and Translation - Research Innovation and Partnerships  and Co-Director of Acute Stroke Services at John Hunter Hospital, Hunter New England Local Health District, researching in conjunction with HMRI’s Brain and Mental Health Program. HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.​