The death rates from kidney disease are eight to 10 times higher among Indigenous Australians than other Australians. Indigenous Australians are also 14 times more likely to need in-hospital care for kidney dialysis.
Kidney disease has huge impacts on patients and their families, and for the majority of people, severe kidney disease can be prevented.
From past research we know that kidney disease is strongly linked to other chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. To tackle and lessen the burden of chronic kidney disease in Indigenous Australians, we need to understand the factors that predict its progression to the point where dialysis or a transplant is required.
Our research focus:
- To discover the best ways to diagnose, treat and prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart and kidney disease.
- To investigate lifestyle-related chronic disease, largely in Indigenous populations, to contribute evidence to build positive models of health.
Our research impact:
- In 2003, we showed that Indigenous patients received kidney transplants at approximately one quarter the rate of non-Indigenous patients, despite having much higher rates of kidney disease.
- The research also found Indigenous patients faced barriers to get onto waiting lists and to move from waiting lists to receiving a transplant. This was highly significant since compared to long-term dialysis, transplantation usually results in a better quality of life, increased life expectancy and a lower cost to the health care system.
- We demonstrated that pervasive miscommunication between healthcare providers and Indigenous patients with kidney disease fundamentally affects their health outcomes.
- Our research validated the use amongst Indigenous Australians of a formula to estimate kidney function from a simple blood test.
- Professor Alan Cass
- Gillian Gorham
- Paul Lawton
- Jaqui Hughes
- Jeannie Devitt
- Samantha Togni
- Natasha Freeman
- Annie Carter
- Charles Triggs
- Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation
- Barefoot Films
- Central Australian Aboriginal Congress Inc.
- Central Australian Renal Voice
- Danila Dilba Health Service
- Ernst & Young
- Feral Films
- Katherine West Health Board Aboriginal Corporation
- Melbourne Health
- Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation
- Morgan Family, Wyndham WA
- National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)
- Northern Territory Primary Health Network
- NT Attorney-General Department - Births, Deaths and Marriages
- NT Department of Education
- NT Department of Health
- NT Department of Housing
- NT Renal Services
- Renal Advocacy Advisory Committee
- Sunrise Health Aboriginal Corporation
- Western Desert Nganampa Walytja Palyantjaku Tjutaku
- Wurli-Wurlinjang Health Clinic
- Return to Country : A national platform study to return Indigenous renal patients home
- Catching Some Air-Asserting Indigenous Information Rights in Renal Disease
- Dialysis Models of Care Project
- Territory Kidney Care
- The PK Study
- Evaluation of Top End Health Services Renal Outreach Program
- eGFR study: accurate assessment of renal function and progression of chronic kidney disease in Indigenous Australians
- A retrospective study of the characteristics and outcomes of dialysis requiring acute kidney injury (AKI) among adults in an acute dialysis unit
- The PK Study
- Kidney Yarning Circles: Pathways to My Home
- Fish and Fruit Study
Recently completed projects:
- Indigenous Patient Voices
- Closing the loop on life-threatening melioidosis infections: observational research informing clinical practice change and policy for adults with severe kidney disease
- Evaluation of CKD management in select NT Aboriginal community controlled health organisations
- Final evaluation of Top End Outreach Ophthalmology Resource Project
- Evaluation of Renal Case Management Program
- Developing a patient-led component of cultural awareness training for renal services in Alice Springs.
- Fred Hollows Foundation Remote Service Delivery Evaluation
- A retrospective study of the characteristics and outcomes of dialysis requiring acute kidney injury (AKI) among adults in an acute dialysis unit
- Database of cultural awareness programs
- Improving Indigenous Kidney Transplant Outcomes
- Central Australian Renal Study Technical Report Update
- Distance and the impact on electrolyte results in the NT
- Forensic approach for reservoir identification for serious S. aureus infections in Top End dialysis clients (STARRS)
- Socioeconomic outcomes and ESKD
- Systematic review of chronic kidney disease programs
- The Transplant Story: A Personal Journey
- Urine ACR ratio and the impact of contaminants
- Reilly, R., Evans, K.m, Gomersall, J., Gorham, G., Peters, M., Warren, S., et al. (2016). Effectiveness, cost effectiveness, acceptability and implementation barriers/enablers of chronic kidney disease management programs for Indigenous people in Australia, New Zealand and Canada: a systematic review of mixed evidence. BMC Health Services Research, 16, 119.
- Gorham, G., Cass, A., Howard K., & Evans, K. Central Australia Renal Study: Technical Report Update. Report prepared by Menzies School of Health Research for the Australian Government Department of Health, Canberra 2016.
- Maple-Brown, L.J., Ekinci, E.I., Hughes, J.T., Chatfield, M., Lawton, P.D., Jones, G.R.D., et al. (2014). Performance of formulas for estimating glomerular filtration rate in Indigenous Australians with and without Type 2 diabetes: the eGFR Study. Diabetic Medicine, 31(7), 829-38. doi:10.1111/dme.12426
- Maple-Brown, L.J., Hughes, J.T., Lawton, P.D., Jones, G.R., Ellis, A.G., Drabsch, K., et al. (2012). Accurate Assessment of Kidney Function in Indigenous Australians: the Estimated GFR Study. American Journal of Kidney Diseases, 60(4), 680-2.
- Maple-Brown, L.J., Cunningham, J., Hodge, A.M., Weeramanthri, T., Dunbar, T., Lawton, P., et al. (2011). High rates of albuminuria but not of low eGFR in Urban Indigenous Australians: the DRUID Study. BMC Public Health,11 (346).
- Hughes, J., Nickels, M., Sharma, S., Tucker, L., O’Dea, K., & Maple-Brown, L. (2010). Implementing the eGFR study in a remote site: a case study. Aboriginal and Islander Health Worker Journal, 34(2), 6-8.
- Maple-Brown, L., Lawton, P., Hughes, J., Sharma, S.K., Jones, G., Ellis, A., Hoy, W., Cass, A., et al. (2010). Study Protocol - Accurate assessment of kidney function in Indigenous Australians: aims and methods of the eGFR Study. BMC Public Health, 10(80).
- Barraclough KA, Grace BS, Lawton P, McDonald SP. (2016) Residential Location and Kidney Transplant Outcomes in Indigenous Compared With Nonindigenous Australians. Transplantation. 2016 October; 100(10):2168-2176 doi:10.1097/TP.0000000000001007.
- ZhO y, Condon J, Lawton P, He V, Cadhilhac DA. Lifetime direct costs of stroke for Indigenous patients adjusted for comorbidities. Neurology. 2016 Aug 2;87(5):458-65. Doi 10.1212/WNL.0000000000002908
- Askew DA*, Togni SJ*, Schluter PJ*, Rogers L, Egert S, Potter N, Hayman NE, Cass A, Brown ADH. (2016) Investigating the feasibility, acceptability and appropriateness of outreach case management in an urban Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander primary health care service: a mixed methods study, BMC Health Services Research, 16 (178):1-14,doi:10.1186/s12913-016-1428-0, http://old.biomedcentral.com/1472-6963/16/178
- Davy J, DeVries J, Fewquandie B, Ingram S, Mentha R, Simon P, Rickards B, Togni S, Liu H, Periris D, Askew D, Kite E, Sivak L, Hackett M, Lavoie J & Brown A. (2016) Facilitating engagement through strong relationships between primary healthcare and Aboriiginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, ANZJ Public Health; Online early view; doi: 10.1111/1753-6405.12553
Click here to view more kidney publications in PubMed.
Autosomal-dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) is the most common genetic kidney disorder, and the fourth most common cause of kidney failure in Australian adults. It affects about one in 1,000 Australians.
$6 million in research funding for three Indigenous health grants in the Northern Territory. This includes $2.5 million for an NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence at the Menzies School of Health Research to prevent and manage bronchiectasis, a lung disease which results in recurrent chest infections and is particularly common in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Nephrologist at the Menzies School of Health Research, Paul Lawton, said his research team had been investigating key causes that dramatically impact upon remote Aboriginal communities.
Dr Jaqui Hughes answers The Conversation's Curious Kids question explaining the functions of the kidney.
Senator Malarndirri McCarthy discusses her kidney diseaese and treatment by Dr Paul Lawton
AHHA's Director of the Deeble Institute for Health Policy Research, Rebecca Haddock, sits down with Stephanie Pushka.
This delay in receiving the DSP is not unusual, according to Stefanie Puszka, a researcher with the Menzies School of Health Research and the ANU.
Stefanie Puszka, a researcher with the Menzies School of Health Research talks to BuzzFeed News.
A new approach to treatment is helping Indigenous Australians fight kidney disease
In an AHHA issues brief released today, Stefanie Puszka outlines why housing and income policy changes needed to improve health outcomes.
The Federal, state and territory Health Ministers met in Adelaide at the COAG Health Council to discuss a range of national health issues.
A recent study in The Medical Journal of Australia found indigenous people on dialysis were “substantially less likely” than other Australians to be placed on the waiting list for a kidney.
Menzies has released a study highlighting the life-saving surgery many are missing out on and co-author Dr Paul Lawton spoke about some of the key findings.
Indigenous patients with kidney disease are missing out on transplants because they are not being put on waiting lists for the potentially life-saving surgery, new research has found.
Researchers from the University of Adelaide, Royal Adelaide Hospital, Menzies School of Health Research and Australia and New Zealand Dialysis and Transplant Registry found the disparity had barely changed over time.
One of the members of the panel will be Dr Jaqui Hughes, Australia’s only Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nephrologist, based at the Royal Darwin Hospital and at the Menzies School of Health Research, who said the news of the inquiry was “really welcome”.
The Federal Government is poised to announce an inquiry into indigenous access to kidney transplants.
Respected Northern Territory kidney specialist Alan Cass, from the Menzies School of Health Research, said those claims needed "careful research".
On her island home, far away from talk of tax cuts and budget wins and losses, Jacqueline Amagula got the news she has been waiting and fighting for.
THE Territory’s kidney disease sufferers will be the major beneficiaries of a new Medicare item to be announced by the Turnbull Government today.
Menzies School of Health Research is hosting the first consultation to establish patient and community led national guidelines to be added to the overall management plans for people affected by kidney health issues.
Menzies School of Health Research (Menzies) is hosting the first consultation to establish patient and community led national guidelines to be added to the overall management plans for people affected by kidney health issues.
A renal roundtable convened by Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt AM in Darwin began charting the roadmap this week.
Just before Christmas 2016, a 68-year-old man received a kidney transplant, one of 1,091 Australians that year.
One in four Indigenous Australians will develop kidney disease, but new figures show that they are far less likely to be able to access a kidney transplant.
KOORI MAIL | Remote Aboriginal Australians with kidney disease have demanded equitable access to life-saving treatment closer to home to prevent the removal of people from their traditional homelands.
Their concerns and solutions are documented in a new report by the Menzies School of Health Research in Darwin: Indigenous Patient Voices: gathering perspectives, finding solutions for chronic and end stage kidney disease.
Menzies School of Health Research senior fellow and Dr G Yunupingu’s doctor Paul Lawton said while a non-indigenous kidney patient living in Darwin was as or more likely to receive a transplant as someone living in Sydney or Melbourne, that was not the case for Aboriginal people.
AN INDIGENOUS dialysis patient being away from home and families is no good. That’s one of the messages from indigenous kidney patients calling for equitable care in a new report from Menzies School of Health Research.
Patients and their support networks have called for equal health care closer to their homes in a new report released by the Menzies School of Health Research in the Northern Territory.
In a new Menzies School of Health Research report, patients and carers from across northern and central Australia called on state, territory and federal government health ministers to overhaul the system to provide more holistic care.
Indigenous people with kidney disease living in remote and rural Australia as well as their support networks have made a resounding call for equitable health care closer to home in a report released today by Menzies School of Health Research.
In the Northern Territory in the 1990s, an Indigenous person was estimated to be 15 to 30 times more likely to have kidney failure than a non-Indigenous person. It was this disparity that compelled Paul Lawton, a kidney specialist, to move to Darwin from Melbourne.
How healthy we are in adulthood is, in many ways, determined while we are still in the womb. Babies born prematurely could be at greater risk of developing kidney disease later in life according to a landmark Monash University study investigating the impacts of preterm birth on kidney development.
Kidney specialist, Dr Jaqui Hughes talks to National TalkBlack
A kidney health forum held in Darwin last week tabled the concerns of remote dialysis patients from Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
Aboriginal dialysis patients say too many people are dying a lonely death away from their families, because they cannot be treated at home. In remote parts of Australia, patients whose kidneys are failing often have to leave their home communities to seek dialysis treatments in larger cities and towns.
The winner of a prestigious Kidney Health Australia Clinical Science Award says kidney specialists need to better understand Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander views on kidney transplant and how they wish to deal with kidney disease in communities.
NT NEWS reports Professor Alan Cass, wins the prestigious Kidney Health Australia Clinical Science Award.
Kidney specialist and Director of Menzies School of Health Research (Menzies), Professor Alan Cass, was presented with the prestigious Kidney Health Australia Clinical Science Award tonight at the 53rd Annual Scientific Meeting of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Nephrology (ANZSN ASM) conference dinner.
Indigenous people with end-stage kidney disease from across northern and central Australia will be sharing their stories at an upcoming kidney conference in the hope of effecting change.
Transplantation Journal | Organ Transplantation in Australia: Inequities in Access and Outcome for Indigenous Australians.
At the Garma Festival in the Northern Territory, RN Drive's Patricia Karvelas sat down with two experts in the field. Melanie Rarrtjiwuy Herdman Representing the CEO of Miwatj Health Dr Paul Lawton Kidney specialist from the Menzies School of Health Research who treated Dr G. Yunupingu
The loss of Dr G Yunupingu to kidney disease has shone a light on the "largely preventable" renal health nightmare afflicting remote communities, his doctor says.
Story-sharing builds care relationships in Alice Springs Kidney disease affects many Indigenous families in Central Australia. People are forced to leave their home communities to access life-maintaining dialysis treatment in major towns like Alice...
The death this week of the wonderful singer Dr G Yunipingu at the age of just 46 from long-term illness, brings home once again the disparity in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
Late Arnhem Land musician Dr G Yunupingu chose to end his dialysis treatment knowing the dire consequences that would follow, his doctor has told the ABC.
Menzies Director Professor Alan Cass, is also the Chair of the Renal Clinical Committee which is recommending a dedicated MBS item number to support ‘on country’ dialysis.
Menzies research fellow, Dr Paul Lawton was recently awarded an Early Career Fellowship as part of the National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) yearly multi-million dollar funding round. Paul’s fellowship provides support for his...
A kidney health program at a Top End health service is making inroads in the battle against dramatically rising numbers of patients with dialysis-dependency and renal failure.
Powerful predictor for the progression of kidney disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations
Study reveals powerful predictor for the progression of kidney disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations
EARLY education is the best way to bring down the NT's sky-high rate of kidney disease, according to Kidney Health Australia medical adviser Alan Cass.
Ronald "Ronno" Morgan is a young tour guide from Wyndham in Western Australia's spectacular Kimberley region. But he's lucky to be alive, having twice faced a life-threatening challenge – first as a five-year-old and again as an adult. Until recently, his life was very much a roller coaster but he was fortunate to have the strong support of a very close family.
It's been more than two decades since Maria Morgan gave her son Ronald the best gift she could, one of her own kidneys, which enabled him to live independently for 23 years.
At age five, Ronno Morgan was a young Aboriginal boy from the Kimberly suffering from kidney failure and requiring emergency surgery
World first research shows shocking numbers of preventable deaths from gaps in kidney failure treatment
Research by Menzies director Professor Alan Cass in collaboration with The George Institute for Global Health has shown that more than two million people globally die unnecessarily every year because they cannot access treatment for kidney failure (dialysis or a kidney transplant).
Redoubling efforts to prevent Indigenous Australians developing end-stage kidney disease is crucial given the social and practical difficulties of delivering complex care such as dialysis and transplantation in remote Australia, Dr Paul Lawton has warned.
New research has revealed an improvement in life expectancy for those suffering from end-stage kidney disease.
To mark World Kidney Day, Australia’s first Indigenous kidney specialist has expressed a need for research institutes to have a greater level of engagement with the people who participate in their research efforts.
For people from remote communities, the diagnosis of kidney failure often means moving far from home to have life-saving dialysis. Some communities are so concerned about the increasing number of people leaving for dialysis, that they've rallied to set up their own clinics.
The first ever detailed study of the body build and composition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has been undertaken to help reduce the risk and impact of kidney disease in Indigenous populations.
One of Australia’s leading kidney specialists has been recognised with a prestigious national award for his contributions to kidney health and advancing Indigenous health.