The University of Adelaide has won US$2.24 million to establish a new national Center of Research Excellence, in partnership with the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organization (NACCHO) and the University of Wollongong.
The center will use the best available evidence to prevent, manage and treat chronic disease among indigenous people.
The funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has been awarded to the University of Adelaide's Professor Alan Pearson AM, who is Chief Investigator of the new NHMRC Center of Research Excellence (CRE) for Translational Research in the Management of Chronic Disease in Indigenous Populations.
"The aim of our center is clear: to improve health outcomes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a chronic disease," says Professor Pearson.
"As a population, indigenous people have significantly poorer health than other Australians and typically die at much younger ages. We hope to save lives and improve people's quality of life by translating science to better health practice."
Professor Pearson has an international reputation in the field of translating evidence into policy and practice in health care. He is Head of the University of Adelaide's School of Translational Health Science and Executive Director of the Joanna Briggs Institute.
"Our research will review existing knowledge about the prevention, management and treatment of chronic disease in indigenous populations. Based on that information, we will conduct much-needed programs to translate and implement evidence into indigenous health care," Professor Pearson says.
"Importantly, to maximize outcomes, this work will be conducted in close collaboration with NACCHO and their member services."
Professor Alex Brown, Leader of the Aboriginal Research Unit at SAHMRI and a co-Chief Investigator of the new center, says chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and kidney disease account for 80% of the life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians.
"The reasons why Indigenous people suffer from high rates of chronic disease are extremely complex. Our work is aimed at making inroads into this massive problem on a clinical, policy and population level," Professor Brown says.
Professor Ngiare Brown, Executive Manager of Research for NACCHO and a co-Chief Investigator of the new center, says: "This is an exciting opportunity to work in collaboration with leaders in their field. Translation health is often overlooked but it will be critical in helping to address the biggest priorities in the indigenous health gap.
"This center will build leadership and capacity in Aboriginal health and the community controlled sector, and will support the development of culturally relevant services that will lead to positive change," she says.
The University's Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Mike Brooks, says today's announcement is further proof of the strong research collaborations that exist in Adelaide.
"The awarding of this new Center of Research Excellence is a major vote of confidence in the quality of research being conducted in this State, and our researchers' ability to translate their work into real health outcomes," Professor Brooks says.
"Congratulations to all of the partners involved in this new center, which has the opportunity to make a significant impact on a national scale."