March 28, 2022

Research Week 2022: Inspired Researchers

This is Research Week, when we celebrate our many inspired researchers at Northern Health. As Professor Peter Brooks, Research Lead, says in our story today, “it highlights the quality of research projects occurring across the spectrum, that are being driven by an increasing number of our Northern Health staff.”

Once again this year, Research Week is being held  as a virtual event, against the backdrop of COVID. Here is Professor Brooks’ report on how we have fared.

Let us acknowledge that, over the past two years, we have all been pushed to the limits and beyond – yet we have come through it. The community that is Northern Health can be justly proud of its resolve, and while research has been affected in many ways, new opportunities have arisen.

This week we celebrate Research Week 2022 which, like last year, will be a primarily ‘virtual’ event with virtual presentations, posters and guest speakers. We will highlight the quality of research occurring across the spectrum, that is being driven by an increasing number of our Northern Health staff.

We know that a health service which commits to, and nurtures, a research culture has happier and more satisfied staff and produces better patient outcomes. We should all be proud of the clinical care we deliver, and strive to underpin this with education and research.

During 2022, a major review of the Research Office was conducted, which has resulted, amongst other things, in the appointment of Dr Faye Zaibak as Director of Operations (Research).

Faye has already made an enormous difference to research and ethics processes and is providing support for development of clinical trials procedures across Northern Health, including important investigator-initiated trials.

Northern Health researchers have played major roles in trials of a variety of treatments for COVID and COVID-related symptoms.

As well as, therapeutic interventions studies, on how we have been communicating with some of our linguistically and culturally diverse populations, and has shown new ways of delivering care which enable us to achieve better patient outcomes.

Research carried out at Northern Health, both before and during the pandemic in the area of ‘virtual health’, (be it telehealth, in and out of hospital monitoring and home-based healthcare solutions), will lead to Northern Health being able to deliver many more services outside of hospitals. This has again emphasised the importance of listening and learning from our patients, and from the community, about what they think is important to them.

Of note is the increasing volume of projects being conducted with our academic partners; Melbourne, La Trobe, RMIT and Swinburne Universities. Highlights include:

  • NHMRC funded national multi-site study, to improve palliative care in Residential Aged Care using Telehealth (Dr Barbara Hayes and Mark Tacey),
  • NHMRC funded national multi-site study, focusing on End of Life Planning (Dr Barbara Hayes is one of the primary investigators),
  • Grant from La Trobe University for ‘Digital health care delivery for people with CVD: e-Nav for Heart Health’  (Professor Brian Oldenberg from La Trobe University is the Primary Investigator, Dr Rebecca Jessup, Anthony Gust and Adam Semciw from Northern Health are Chief Investigators )
  • Grant awarded for the study of digital technology and virtual care delivery in Australia (Dr Rebecca Jessup and Anthony Gust),
  • A study partnering with consumers to co-design comprehensive abortion care from the Nurses Board of Victoria (Eleanor Johnson),
  • Grant awarded to establish clinical trial of heparin use in COVID at Northern Health with partners from the University of Melbourne and Monash University valued at $4.2 million (Prof Don Campbell),
  • A grant from Department of Education and Training to develop a new workforce of Health Navigators valued at $2.3 million with Swinburne University and Medibank Private with Northern Health as the lead agency (Prof Peter Brooks, Dr Rebecca Jessup and Anthony Gust),
  • $296,000 funding from the HCF Research Foundation for “Digital health to extend Victoria’s first specialised ambulatory pleural service: a proof of concept study.” (Dr Sanjeevan Muruganandan).

Increasingly, Northern Health researchers are being recognised at National and International Meetings, such as A/Prof Lisa Hui winning top prize at RANZCOG Annual Scientific Meeting.

Finally, we must continue to contribute to the literature and can take pride in that, in 2021, Northern Health researchers published 225 journal articles.

Northern Health can be proud of its researchers and the standard of the research they produce, and we acknowledge the continuing support of the Northern Health Foundation. They currently support four PhD students directly and awarded four project grants in 2021.

Congratulations and thank you to all who have contributed to research and, in turn, deliver trusted care for our community, now and into the future.

Professor Peter Brooks, AM

Research Lead – Northern Health


The Northern Health Research Week Abstract Book 2022 is now available, with details on Research Week presentations and showcasing the research being done by our Northern Health researchers and collaborators.

For more information, please visit the Research Week pages here.

View the virtual Research Week 2022 posters here and cast your vote for the People’s Choice Award for Best Poster.