Our Clinical Academic Groups
The Aboriginal community in Australia is disadvantaged. With lower life expectancy, higher child mortality, and less access to early childhood education, academic achievement and employment outcomes, we are closing the gap on health and wellbeing. Efforts to close the gap across the country have been stalled, which is why we are rethinking how to do health business.
The average life expectancy in Australia is 81.5 years. This is among the highest in the world. The question is, what are the implications of an ageing population? And how do we ensure our health system is future-focused and sustainable?
18 million people will be diagnosed with cancer this year. Research and its translation into clinical care means many more people are surviving and will be cured. However, there is still a lot more work to do. Our Cancer CAG has a vision to create a partnership that unites cancer research across Sydney and across the world. Instead of working in isolation, we’re inviting stronger and broader collaboration to understand this complex group of diseases. We’re starting a global conversation to find answers. To deliver research that has real-world impact.
Cardiac and vascular diseases (including cerebrovascular disease, peripheral artery disease, microvascular diseases involving the kidney, eye and nerves, and related conditions such as diabetes) are the leading causes of death in Australia and most countries around the world. They are also responsible for substantial ill-health and create a massive financial and social burden. Substantial progress had been made in reducing the burden of cardiac disease over the last half-century, with a reduction in coronary mortality by more than half in Australia, but these advances are currently under threat. The increasing prevalence of obesity, diabetes and related conditions is driving a renewed wave of cardiac and vascular disorders. The most recent Global Burden of Disease study suggests that life expectancy in Australia may have declined over each of the last 2 years, for the first time in over half a century. A rebound in cardiac and vascular conditions is a key driver of this reversal. A redoubling of efforts to improve prevention and treatment of cardiac and vascular diseases is therefore an urgent priority.
Chronic illness affects every aspect of a child’s life. From school achievement and disrupted social networks, to psychological distress and poor physical health. These ‘whole of life’ problems reduce a child’s ability to achieve their potential as an adult, putting a burden on their family. Management of chronic illness in childhood is complex and requires coordinated care across hospitals, primary health care providers and community organisations, yet there is no standardised support for families navigating this complex pathway. This places significant burden on the child, their family and health systems. Despite this, current models of care fail to recognise this.
Diabetes is the leading burden of disease in Australia. The severity of the disease varies, adversely affecting those from poorer socio-economic backgrounds. Evidence suggests that the size of the problem has been underestimated by up to 50%.
In Australia, 20% of children start school without the developmental capabilities to thrive. This number increases to 40% in vulnerable populations. These kids grow into adults who struggle with their jobs, health and social lives. This costs Australia billions of dollars each year. The earlier we can identify developmental delays, the earlier we can intervene. The Early Life Determinants CAG focuses on those critical, first 2000 days of a child’s life. Together, we’re driving research that will transform the lives of children and the adults they will become.
Technology is everywhere and it’s evolving at a rapid pace. However, in healthcare it often takes significant time for translation into clinical practice. As with important medical discoveries, it can take up to 17 years for just 14% of clinical innovations to be put to use in practice* and yet the potential for disruptive technologies to transform patients’ lives is significant.
1 in 12 Australians are affected by a genetic condition. Whilst individual genetic conditions are rare, most patients are either undiagnosed or not diagnosed early enough, and this negatively impacts their quality of life.
A few years ago, the United Nations announced that we are an urban planet. More than 50% of earthlings live in cities. This is certainly true for Greater Sydney. In fact, the number of urbanites here is expected to double by 2050. Urban living, infrastructure and planning impact on our health opportunities.
Communicable diseases headline the global burden of disease and produce enormous suffering and major economic impact. Inflammatory and immune diseases also contribute substantially to global disease burden. Some tried-and-true treatments for infectious diseases are no longer effective and new approaches to treatment are in desperate demand. A better understanding of our immune system and how the body responds to infection is needed to turn this around.
The Triple I Clinical Academic Group (CAG) works to prevent and treat infection, enhance immunity and manage inflammation. We are building a world-class collaborative research network to advance our work.
Women and their families should receive the best possible woman-centred care, based on the best available evidence. Families and women should also be able to choose care that is appropriate to their specific situation and local environment. Health care professionals should endorse this level of care. In reality, this is not always the case.
Musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions are the second largest contributor to disability worldwide. The impact of MSK disease on a person's every day life in terms of cost, morbidity and mortality is significant. This burden of disease is comparable to cardiac disese and affects approximately 70% of Australians aged 45-64 years. The research into these conditions should be a priority to ensure that we use the most effective and affordable strategies to improve MSK health and prevent significant musculoskeletal decline across the ages.
Brain disorders, mental illness and substance misuse present some of the world’s most complex health challenges. Together, they represent the highest burden of disease in the world. And the problem is getting worse. Shifts in population distribution, poor translation of interventions and unclear solutions are getting in the way of medical improvements. We need forward thinking. We need to re-imagine our approach to scientific and clinical solutions. That’s the only way we can stop this tsunami over the next 20 years.
Over the years, there has been an increasing need for end-of-life and palliative care in Australia. There are also more people receiving care in hospitals than at home, despite the majority preferring to stay at home. In addition, people living outside major cities or in lower socio-economic communities have less access to these services. The role of this CAG is to address gaps in access and need.
Respiratory disease is prevalent across the world and is a major cause of morbidity and mortality. There has also been an increase in lung disease caused by environmental and occupational factors. Sleep disorder breathing problems and related conditions are also on the rise. This places our Respiratory, Sleep, Environmental and Occupational Health CAG in a growing area of need.