Menzies’ head of Child Health, Professor Anne Chang, was recently awarded a Senior Practitioner Fellowship as part of the National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) yearly multi-million dollar funding round.

Anne’s fellowship provides support for her salary for the next five years.

Anne shared her thoughts on the renewal of her fellowship.

What is the title of your project grant or fellowship?

Improving children's respiratory health through better evidence and knowledge.

What major health issue does your research hope to address and how?

My fellowship aims to improve knowledge relevant to patient care and evidence-based practice of common and/or important respiratory conditions such as cough, asthma, and bronchiectasis in Indigenous and non-Indigenous children.

Lung conditions are the most common reason why Indigenous people see a doctor and the second most common reason for hospitalisation.

Many cases of lung disease seen in adults started in childhood, and many of these lung conditions can be prevented and/or treated if they are recognised and managed before irreversible lung damage occurs.

The fellowship will also aim to translate the results into policy and practice by incorporating data into systematic reviews and guidelines, such as management of chronic cough in children and Australian and New Zealand guidelines on the management of bronchiectasis and chronic suppurative lung disease in children and adults.

Importantly, my fellowship will also help to build research capacity in clinical paediatric respiratory research and evidence-based medicine by mentoring and teaching junior doctors and researchers.

What is the most exciting aspect of your funding win?

Renewal of the fellowship will allow me to continue existing projects and commence new ones. It will also provide time to translate the results of my research into policy and practice.

The prospect of building research capacity in clinical paediatric respiratory research and evidence-based medicine is also exciting because it will result in a cohort of clinical researchers with the capacity for high quality independent research and leadership roles.

What are the broader health implications of your fellowship?

The projects I am undertaking as part of my fellowship are significant because this research data will impact on the how children with lung diseases are treated.

Lung diseases are common in childhood (especially in Indigenous children) and cause substantial illness. These diseases can have long term consequences for lung health in adults, but with the correct treatment and management, there’s a tremendous opportunity to find better ways to treat common lung illnesses in children and prevent future chronic disease in adults.

This research not only builds research capacity as explained above, it also gives Menzies the opportunity to involve Indigenous community leaders to engage in, and prioritise, health research objectives.

This fellowship allows me to closely observe the quality of my team's studies and future translation of our findings into policy and practice, thereby ensuring that the best evidence-based health care is available to Indigenous children.

For more information on this area of work please click here.