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.

Our knowledge is limited, both of the clinical course of lung disease in Indigenous populations, and the factors that hasten its development.

Our research focus:
  • To find better ways to treat common lung illnesses and to understand what factors lead to the development of severe lung disease.
  • To prevent future chronic disease through awareness-raising and education, and by providing tools to better detect and manage lung problems.
Our research impact:
  • Described better ways to diagnose and manage chronic coughs in children through a child-specific ‘cough-pathway’. We documented dramatic reductions in the duration of coughs, from a previous average of 16 weeks to just four weeks. The ‘cough pathway’ will be incorporated into Australian and international guidelines
  • Improved the detection and management of chronic suppurative lung disease in children, including the development of evidence-based guidelines
  • Launched a respiratory disease web resource called the LungInfoNet. This one-stop shop helps health professionals and others to provide improved health education to Indigenous patients. It includes flipchart resources for respiratory diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic suppurative lung disease and bronchiolitis.
Key staff:
  • Dr Kerry-Ann O’Grady, Associate Professor Ian Masters, Dr Helen Buntain, Dr Ian Mackay, Dr Danielle Wurzel, Dr Helen Petsky and colleagues, Children's Health Queensland and Queenslad University of Technology
  • Professor Keith Grimwood, Griffith University
  • Professor John Upham, University of Queensland and Princess Alexandra Hospital
  • Professor Paul Torzillo, University of Sydney
  • Associate Professor Theo Sloots, Queensland Paediatric Infectious Disease Laboratory
  • Dr Stephanie Yerkovich, University of Queensland and Queensland Lung Transplant Service, Prince Charles Hospital
  • Dr Catherine Byrnes, Starship Children's Hospital, Auckland
  • Dr Rosalyn Singleton, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, Anchorage
  • Prof Greg Redding, University of Washington, Seattle
  • Associate Professor Allen Cheng, Monash University and The Alfred Hospital
  • Professor Peter Gibson and Dr Katherine Baines, University of Newcastle
  • Professor Sandra Hodge, Royal Adelaide Hospital
  • Dr Andrew Wilson, Princess Margaret Hospital
  • Professor Allan Cripps, Griffith University
  • Dr Nicolas Wood, University of Sydney, Children’s Hospital Westmead
  • Professor Albert Li, Chinese University of Hong Kong
  • Associate Professor Anna Nathan, University of Malaya
  • Associate Professor Jessie de Bruyne, University of Malaya
  • Dr Fong, Likas Children's Hospital, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
  • Dr Ooi and Associate Professor David Perera, University of Malaysia Sarawak
  • Associate Professor Tsin Yeo, Nanyang Technological University / Imperial College, Singapore

Below is a list of selected publications relating to lung health:

  1. Marsh, R.L., Kaestli, M., Chang, A.B., Binks, M.J., Pope, C.E., Hoffman, L.R., & Smith-Vaughan, H.C. (2016). The microbiota in bronchoalveolar lavage from young children with chronic lung disease includes taxa present in both the oropharynx and nasopharynx. Microbiome. In press.
  2. Chang, A.B., Bell, S.C., Torzillo, P.J., King, P.T., Maguire, G., Byrnes, C.A., et al. (2015). Chronic suppurative lung disease and bronchiectasis in children and adults in Australia and New Zealand. Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand guidelines Medical Journal of Australia, 202,21-23.
  3. Pizzutto, S.J., Upham, J.W., Yerkovich, S.T., & Chang, A.B. (2015). High pulmonary expression of IL-6 and IL-1β in children with chronic suppurative lung disease is associated with impaired recall responses to non-typeable Haemophilus influenzae. Plos One,10(6), e0129517.
  4. Hare, K.M., Grimwood, K., Chang, A.B., Morris, P.S., Leach, A.L., Valery, P.C., et al. (2015). Nasopharyngeal carriage and macrolide resistance in Indigenous children with bronchiectasis randomized to long-term azithromycin or placebo. European Journal of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases, 34(11), 2275-85.
  5. McCallum, G.B., Morris, P.S., Grimwood, K., Maclennan, C., White, A.V., Chatfield, M.D., et al. (2015). Three-weekly doses of azithromycin for Indigenous infants hospitalised with bronchiolitis: A multicentre, randomised, placebo-controlled trial. Frontiers in Paediatrics, 3, 32.
  6. McCallum, G.B., Versteegh, L.A., Morris, P.S., McKay, C.C., Jacobsen, N., White, A.V., D’Antoine, H., & Chang, A.B. (2014). Mobile phones support adherence and retention of Indigenous participants in a randomised controlled trial: strategies and lessons learnt. BMC Public Health, 14, 622.
  7. Blake, T.L., Chang, A.B., Petsky, H.L., Rodwell, L., Brown, M., Hill, D.C., McElrea, M.S (2016). Spirometry reference values in Indigenous Australians. A systematic review. Medical Journal of Australia, 205(1), 35-40.
  8. Goyal, V., Grimwood, K., Marchant, J.M., Masters, I.B., & Chang, A.B. (2016). State of the Art: Bronchiectasis in children: no longer an orphan disease. Pediatric Pulmonol ogy.
  9. Hodge, S., Hodge, G., Upham, J.W., Pizzutto, S.J., Petsky, H.L., Yerkovich, S.T., et al. (2016).  Is alveolar macrophage phagocytic dysfunction in children with protracted bacterial bronchitis a forerunner to bronchiectasis? Chest, 149(2), 508-515.
  10. Chang, A.B., Marsh, R.L., Upham, J.W., Hoffman, L.R., Smith-Vaughan, H., Holt, D., et al on behalf of the CRE extended group. (2015). Towards making inroads in reducing the disparity of lung health in Australian Indigenous and New Zealand Māori children. Frontiers in Pediatrics, 3, 9.
Click here to view more lung publications in PubMed.
  1. New talking posters to tackle chronic cough in Indigenous communities

    New talking posters to tackle chronic cough in Indigenous communities


    The launch of a series of flipcharts and talking posters will help to address factors that lead to chronic respiratory illness in remote Indigenous children and adults.

  2. Cough, step and jump: a profile of Professor Anne Chang

    Cough, step and jump: a profile of Professor Anne Chang


    One doctor’s mission to beat childhood lung disease.

  3. My story: Gabrielle McCallum, nurse and PhD candidate

    My story: Gabrielle McCallum, nurse and PhD candidate


    Meet our winner of the 2012 NT Nursing and Midwifery Excellence Award for ‘Education, Research and Innovation’.

  4. Research turns to cold case specimens to unveil secrets in ear and lung health

    Research turns to cold case specimens to unveil secrets in ear and lung health


    A retrospective study of 20 years of ear and lung data is being undertaken to inform improved diagnosis, prevention and treatment options for Indigenous children with middle ear and lung infections.

  5. NHMRC features Menzies' researcher Robyn Marsh

    NHMRC features Menzies' researcher Robyn Marsh


    NHMRC Frank Fenner early career fellowship winner Robyn Marsh talks about her research experience.

  6. Pioneering asthma education program and research in Darwin schools

    Pioneering asthma education program and research in Darwin schools


    An innovative asthma awareness and self-management program with tobacco uptake prevention funded by Asthma Australia’s National Research Program is being introduced to school students in Darwin.

  7. Pioneering research hopes to improve Indigenous lung health

    Pioneering research hopes to improve Indigenous lung health


    The first ever detailed study of the bacteriology of bronchiectasis in Indigenous children has been undertaken to better understand and prevent the disease progression.

  8. Menzies leaders inducted into important new health and medical academy

    Menzies leaders inducted into important new health and medical academy


    Three Menzies researchers inducted as Fellows of the newly formed Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences.

  9. ABC TV coverage of lung capacity study collaboration


    Menzies have been out and about at the Northern Territory Rugby League Junior fixtures, measuring lung function in healthy young people. The study measures two types of lung function tests in healthy Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young adults, to find the best range of healthy results. Which in turn will be used to help diagnose lung problems such as asthma. Dr Gabrielle McCallum manager of our Child Health Respiratory Program teamed up with with Queensland University of Technology PhD student Tamara Blake.

  10. Evidence informs chronic cough guidelines

    Evidence informs chronic cough guidelines


    High-quality evidence informs chronic cough guidelines Results from the first multicentre randomised controlled trial on chronic cough in children led by our child health respiratory team were incorporated into the updated American College of Chest...

  11. ABC online | Research targeting asthma and smoking

    ABC online | Research targeting asthma and smoking


    Indigenous smoking rates: Older kids a new tool to break cycle in Northern Territory. By Nancy Notzon. Senior research fellow Dr Gabrielle McCallum | A trial targeting improved asthma outcomes and creating an environment where it's cool not to take up smoking.

  12. Better child lung health

    Better child lung health


    Indigenous children living in remote communities with chest and lung conditions are a key priority for our child health respiratory team. To identify what can be done to improve their lung health and how their respiratory conditions can be better managed,...

  13. Menzies clinician-researchers receive NHMRC funding

    Menzies clinician-researchers receive NHMRC funding


    Two Menzies School of Health Research clinician-researchers have secured competitive NHMRC funding to continue their valuable work over the coming years.

  14. Large donation for vital research

    Large donation for vital research


    The generous staff at Darwin Airport have donated $13,000 to Menzies School of Health Research to go towards the purchase of Anaerobic Chamber.

  15. Anaerobic Chamber to help improve lives of Indigenous Children.

    Anaerobic Chamber to help improve lives of Indigenous Children.


    The Chamber is a crucial piece of equipment for growing anaerobic bacteria that can be found in children under the age of 5 with middle ear infections and chronic lung disease.