Dr Bronwyn Berthon

Equipment Grant
2017 Equipment Grant
Project Grant
2017 Project Grant

What are your research interests?

Initially I trained as a dietitian, though since then I have found a home as clinical researcher at HMRI within the Centre for Asthma and Respiratory Disease.

Our research team is focused on finding the most beneficial patterns of eating and identifying which nutrients in the diet can be either helpful or harmful for adults and children who have respiratory conditions like asthma and COPD.

We are focused on developing non-drug based additional therapies from dietary nutrients and alternative supplements to optimise health in ageing, obesity and other inflammatory conditions such as asthma and COPD.

Why did you get into research?

I am passionate about being able to help people with health conditions through the provision of evidenced based therapy and appropriate dietary advice. Performing clinical trials gives me the opportunity to connect with volunteers from the community who can directly benefit from participating in our research and gives me a sense of the positive effects our research findings can make in the health of others worldwide.

I am inspired by and a firm believer of what Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food”. While advancements in pharmaceutical treatments are making major improvements in health and disease management, we must not forget that we can also make significant improvements in many health conditions through what we choose to eat and drink. The more research we can do to explore the importance of diet, individual nutrients and their relationship with health and disease, the greater chance we have of making a difference in the health of people from our local community, our country and around the world.

What would be the ultimate goal for your research?

Nutrition science is a relatively new field in the grand scheme, and ultimately there is still a lot we don’t know yet. But every study we do, improves our knowledge and ability to give specific dietary recommendations to advance the health of many. My goal as a researcher is to bring our knowledge forward to the point where we can make disease specific dietary recommendations for people who suffer from respiratory conditions like asthma and COPD.

Biography

Dr Berthon is an early career researcher developing her expertise in nutrition and asthma as a clinical research Dietitian (Bachelor Nutrition & Dietetics, Hons, University Medal, 2009) within the nutrition team of the University of Newcastle's Priority Research Centre for Healthy Lungs at the Hunter Medical Research Institute in Newcastle. Since 2014, Dr Berthon has performed clinical research related to nutrition and respiratory diseases and obesity and inflammation. This postdoctoral role encompasses design, coordination, data collection, analysis and publication of clinical trials and managing a team of clinical and laboratory higher degree research students under the supervision of Professor Lisa Wood.

Currently Dr Berthon is focused on investigating the unique nutritional needs of adults and children with asthma by performing translational clinical research with the aim to establish appropriate dietary guidelines in asthma. While there are specific dietary recommendations for conditions such as diabetes, heart and kidney disease, there are still no dietary guidelines for people living with respiratory conditions.

Future Focus

Through contributing to innovative clinical trials in nutrition, in the future I hope to be able to help consolidate our teams’ research findings into practical dietary advice that can make a difference in the lives of people living with health conditions like asthma.

Specialised/Technical Skills

Academic

  • Clinical research: trial design, development and implementation
  • Human Research Ethics, Safety, Radiation and Site Specific Assessment applications
  • Statistical analysis
  • Academic writing: manuscript preparation, grant applications

Clinical

  • Dietary assessment and analysis
  • Dietetic counselling
  • Participant recruitment, clinical assessment and follow-up
  • Pulmonary function assessment in adults and children
  • Collection and processing of human biological specimens – blood, sputum, faeces

Affiliations

2017

Understanding how diet modulates the gut microbiome in asthmatic children
Project Grant
Description:

The burden of asthma in children is unacceptably high. Asthma is the most common chronic childhood disease, affecting more than 10% of Australian children. Inhaled steroids are the most effective therapy for controlling asthma day to day, however, they do not prevent many acute attacks of asthma and many patients and carers are concerned about unwanted side effects, which reduces adherence to prescribed medications. Therefore, alternative strategies for managing asthma in children are urgently needed.

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Software DEXA scanner
Equipment Grant
Description:

The CoreScan application is a software upgrade for the existing Lunar Prodigy Dual Energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) machine located within the clinical trials pod at HMRI.

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