Western Sydney researchers pick up $330,000 in Federal Government grants

Jon Iredell is a senior staff specialist in infectious diseases and microbiology at Westmead Hospital.

Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) researchers using cutting-edge genomic testing to fight antibiotic resistance, and doctors testing a mobile phone service to help prevent new mothers developing diabetes have received large grants from the Federal Government.

Sydney Health Partners has awarded a total of almost $330,000 in Federal funding to the two projects as part of its mission to more effectively apply research breakthroughs to improve health care.

WSLHD is a major partner of Sydney Health Partners, a joint venture that also incorporates the Northern and Sydney Local Health Districts, the Sydney Children’s Hospital Network (Westmead), the University of Sydney and their affiliated medical research institutes and centres.

Using money from the Federal Government’s Medical Research Future Fund, the Sydney Health Partners-funded projects aim to prove that the two innovations can be scaled up for use across health services.

Senior staff specialist in infectious diseases and microbiology at Westmead Hospital Professor Jon Iredell will use the money to spread knowledge, skills and tools for genomic testing of potentially deadly bacteria.

“By using simple genetic tools we think we can identify the transmission of anti-microbial resistance between bacteria when it is not apparent from looking at the bacteria themselves,” Prof Iredell said.

“This will allow doctors to use infection control techniques we know work – but which don’t work if you don’t know what to apply them too.”

Prof Wah Cheung (left) with Gilly Rosic, Prof Clara Chow & Sonia Faruquie.

A project led by the department of diabetes and endocrinology director at Westmead Hospital, Professor Wah Cheung, will send new mothers health tips and reminders via mobile phone messages.

Prof Cheung says the messages, which encourage new mums to stay active and eat healthily, are personalised using step data recorded with activity monitors worn by the trial participants.

It’s hoped that this intervention will reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Gestational diabetes affects between 15 and 30 percent of pregnancies and half of these women will develop type 2 diabetes in the future.

“Many women struggle to change their lifestyle and reduce the diabetes risk because, after pregnancy, their priority is the baby and not so much on themselves,” Prof Cheung said.

Sydney Health Partners executive director Professor Garry Jennings said a total of 11 projects were chosen for funding from across the partner organisations.

“All the successful projects share Sydney Health Partners’ vision of delivering the benefits of health and medical research to our patients and communities more quickly,” Prof Jennings said.

“They have been chosen for their ready ability to be implemented in a clinical setting and strong prospects of delivering tangible benefits to patient care within a 12-to-18 month period.” For more information about Sydney Health Partners visit: http://www.sydneyhealthpartners.org.au/