Medical and health sciences
In ERA 2015, research in medical and health sciences received a rating of 4 out of 5 – ‘performance above world standard’ – for the discipline overall. Macquarie also received the top rating of 5 – ‘outstanding performance well above world standard’ – for the sub-discipline research areas of oncology, neurosciences, and clinical sciences and a rating of 4 for cardiovascular medicine and haematology.
The major focus of medical and health sciences research at Macquarie has been in clinical sciences. This has been achieved through the opportunities provided by the Macquarie University Health Sciences Centre, and in particular the unique clinical access provided through Macquarie University Hospital (MUH – Australia’s first and only university-owned hospital. Macquarie also hosts the Australian Hearing Hub, a world-class facility designed to facilitate collaborative basic and clinical research in hearing, linguistics and psychology, neurosciences, and emotional health.
In oncology and carcinogenesis, major research themes are based in the study of melanoma, prostate and breast cancers. Important discoveries have been made in the precise molecular profiling of melanoma tumours, allowing the design of targeted therapies against specific melanomas, resulting in dramatic improvement in survival rates in patients. This research was supported through the award of a $12 million NHMRC Program Grant in molecular cancer therapies (2011–2015), and a new $14.5 million Program Grant for the period 2016 to 2020.
Neurosciences covers major research programs across a number of topics including neurophysiology and mapping of neural circuits that regulate blood pressure, heart rate and respiration, the study of cerebral aneurysms, and the molecular pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases. A major achievement has been the establishment in 2013 of Australia’s largest research centre dedicated to understanding the causes of motor neurone disease and frontotemporal dementia, supported through a $6.4 million NHMRC Dementia Teams Grant awarded in 2015.
Research activities in cardiorespiratory medicine and haematology include studying the association between vascular changes and disease states (such as hypertension and cardiovascular disease), and surgical innovations that improve patient outcomes following cardiothoracic surgery. Examples of research excellence include participation in major international consortia responsible for identifying risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease, and leading the formation of the International Aortic Arch Surgery Study Group (IAASSG), which has developed the world’s largest database containing clinical information for 12,000 aortic arch patients.
In 2014, Macquarie welcomed the Australian Institute of Health Innovation (AIHI – a major national resource for many people whose work is intrinsic to strengthening health systems, organisations and services. The Institute comprises the centres of Healthcare Resilience and Implementation Science (CHRIS), Health Informatics (CHI) and Health Systems and Safety Research (CHSSR), and is supported through a NHMRC Program grant.
Current accolades include:
- Professor Jeffrey Braithwaite’s membership on the NHMRC Research Committee
- three NHMRC-ARC Dementia Research Development Fellowships
- four NHMRC fellowships.