$130,450 in research grants awarded to Blacktown and Mount Druitt Hospital clinicians

Three Blacktown and Mount Druitt Hospital (BMDH) staff have received WSLHD Research and Education Network (REN) grants worth up to $50,000 each to assist them fund research projects.

Blacktown Clinical School and Research Centre senior scientist Dr Scott Read, BMDH senior gastroenterology and surgical clinical dietitian Brook Maguire and BMDH gastroenterology and hepatology registrar Dr Michael Au have been awarded $130,450 between them to fill knowledge gaps, discover new treatments and enhance the patient experience in their respective fields.

Research is a major pillar of WSLHD with research covering a broad spectrum including, but not limited to, laboratory, drug and device trials, and epidemiological studies.

Dr Scott Read was awarded $50,000 for his novel approach in improving the diagnosis and outcomes in patients with liver cirrhosis. Scott says the funding will significantly improve quality of life for individuals with chronic liver disease by spending less time in the hospital and spending more time with loved ones.

“Chronic viral hepatitis, alcoholism and obesity can result in years of liver inflammation that will eventually cause sever scarring of the liver termed cirrhosis,” Scott said.

“The project looks at patients who have impaired liver function and who develop bacterial infections which can reduce lifespan.

“We hope to develop sensitive methods to identify the infection early and look for vitamin and zinc deficiencies and how they contribute to impaired immune function in chronic liver disease patients.

Brook Maguire also received $50,000 for her randomised controlled trial using a specialised liquid diet called Exclusive Enteral Nutrition in adults with Crohn’s Disease to help them recover from flares without a need for escalation in their medication therapy.

“Patients living with Crohn’s Disease face various risks throughout their lifetime due to exposure to long term steroid and immunosuppressant drugs and are at high risk of needing surgery,” Brook said.  

“Our hope is to use Exclusive Enteral Nutrition to decrease hospital admissions, reduce the need for surgical intervention and to optimise nutrition.

“We have had great clinical outcomes for patients who use this diet and are excited to evaluate their feedback, preferences for treatment and possibly implement across WSLHD.”

Dr Michael Au who also works in the gastroenterology field, received $30,450 to explore effective ways to simplify and digitise colonoscopy care to help improve the quality of bowel preparation and adenoma detection.

“The funding will allow us to develop a smartphone app that can assess the progress of patients leading up to their colonoscopy at BMDH,” Michael said.

“We want to improve patient satisfaction by identifying patients who are at risk of poor bowel preparation, improve adenoma detection and monitor the patient experience before and after colonoscopy.

“We hope this study can streamline and digitalise colonoscopy care for the communities of western Sydney.”

BMDH Gastroenterology and Hepatology senior staff specialist and project lead for Michael and Brook, Dr Viraj Kariyawasam said that research is vital for BMDH to become a tertiary level teaching hospital.  

“Research at BMDH is important because research propels us forward, said Viraj.

“It allows our clinicians to look curiously at our patients and help them navigate their complex worlds.

“This is a fantastic achievement for our Gastroenterology and Hepatology teams to help make the patient experience more positive and better health outcomes for all.”