Improving Health and Wellbeing

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Advancing Society and Culture

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Designing Smarter Technologies

Research at Deakin is making a difference across the health spectrum, in areas such as medicine, ageing and chronic illness, physical activity, infant and child health, nutrition, disability, social and mental health.

Deakin is a key partner in the Geelong Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases – Australia’s first “One Health” facility, which is taking a new, multidisciplinary approach to managing infectious diseases in people, animals, and the environment – and is set to play a leading role in protecting Australia and other nations from the threat of emerging and zoonotic infectious diseases.

In a world-first, our researchers have pioneered the industrial production of high-value short nanofibre materials that will be manufactured with commercial partners for domestic and export markets. The potential of these tiny fibres is only just being explored, but, already, discoveries in stem cell expansion are set to improve leukaemia treatment across the globe.

Our ground-breaking research in autism has led to the adoption of improved diagnostic and treatment guidelines by the international medical community. Researchers are also working on developing new pharmaceuticals to treat conditions as diverse as diabetes, obesity and prostate cancer. In the mental health domain, teams of scientists are collaborating on major programs to improve understanding and treatment of psychiatric disorders.

Amongst many other projects, Deakin researchers are overseeing Australia’s longest-running longitudinal study on child development, to gain insights that will improve public health policy and, hopefully, break inter-generational cycles
of disadvantage.

Tipping the scales in favour of action on obesity
Thirty-four leading community, public health, medical and academic groups have joined the call for urgent Federal Government action to address Australia’s serious obesity problem. As rising obesity and poor diets continue to strain the nation’s physical and economic health, a new action plan has identified eight practical and evidence-based actions
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Soft drink price rise reduces consumption, Deakin research shows
Sales of soft drinks within a Melbourne hospital dropped by more than a quarter during an Australian-first trial of a sugar tax. Monitored by researchers from Deakin University’s Global Obesity Centre, the trial, carried out at a convenience store in The Alfred over 17 weeks, increased the cost of sugary
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Honour for psychiatry expert
A Deakin researcher is Australia’s most highly cited neuroscientist. Alfred Deakin Professor Michael Berk, already ranked among the top one per cent of researchers in his field in the world, is now the most highly cited neuroscientist in the nation. The Director of Deakin University’s Centre for Innovation in Mental
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Epigenetic ‘fingerprint’ identifies diabetes risk
Deakin researchers have identified an epigenetic marker that predicts risk of type 2 diabetes in women with gestational diabetes. Scientists at Deakin University have discovered that specific epigenetic markers can distinguish women with gestational diabetes who develop type 2 diabetes from women with gestational diabetes who do not develop type
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New phase for Copenhagen partnership
A visiting delegation from the University of Copenhagen has extended ties between Deakin and its closest European collaborator. Deakin University’s relationship with one of the world’s most prestigious universities, the University of Copenhagen (KU), has been strengthened through the visit of 15 KU academics and students to Deakin in early
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Caring for kids
A Deakin biostatistician is working with US researchers on a clinical trial to improve the quality of life of children with advanced cancer. Caring for children with advanced cancer and other complex, life-threatening diseases is distressing for everyone involved, but a US-based trial is hoping to ease the situation for
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Gold standard for measuring what we eat
A new way of assessing dietary intake is a game changer for nutrition research in Australia. A freely available, web-based software tool that enables the collection of automated and self-administered 24 hour dietary recalls and food diaries is now available to researchers around the country. ASA24-Australia-2016 was developed through a
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Fit for motion
A wireless motion capture device the size of a matchbox is changing the lives of Australians from Parkinson’s disease sufferers to golfers and horse trainers.  A new “Fitbit for biomechanics” designed by researchers from Deakin University’s School of Engineering has potential for industries from healthcare to sport. The result of
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New Health Institute seeks better systems of health
The Institute for Healthcare Transformation is set to position Deakin University as the premier Australian centre for health systems research, and a leader in health reform. At a time when health systems across the world are under significant pressure from the increasing burden of chronic disease and an ageing population,
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Antibiotic overload a concern for Aussie kids
A new study has found that half of Australian infants are treated with antibiotics during their first year of life – one of the highest rates in the world. In a time of rising antimicrobial resistance and growing evidence of the negative impact antibiotics have on beneficial bacteria, the high
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National hospital survey to audit infection
Deakin researchers will lead the first infection survey of Australian hospitals in more than 30 years. A project led by Dr Philip Russo, a Research Fellow with Deakin University’s Centre for Quality and Patient Safety-Alfred Health Partnership, will address the current lack of data on infection risk across Australia’s hospitals
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Action called for on gambling harm
Most Victorians believe gambling products are harmful and tougher regulations are needed, according to new Deakin research. A survey of 500 Victorians on their attitudes towards gambling harm and harm reduction strategies found 40 per cent of participants were at risk of gambling harm and almost all agreed more should
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Peak body awards Deakin researchers
Deakin health researchers have been honoured for their contributions to improving health in Australia and internationally at the annual CAPHIA awards. The Council of Academic Public Health Institutions in Australia (CAPHIA) last night recognised researchers from Deakin University’s Centre for Population Health Research (CPHR) within the School of Health and
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Public Health makes ‘World 100’ in Shanghai Rankings
The subject of Public Health at Deakin University has been ranked in the top 100 in one of the world’s most prestigious international ranking systems. Researchers in the field of Public Health at Deakin have every reason to celebrate, with the recent announcement that the subject has been ranked in
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Old antibiotic could form new depression treatment
Researchers from IMPACT have discovered that a drug used to treat acne can relieve major depression. An antibiotic used mostly to treat acne has been found to improve the quality of life for people with major depression, in a world-first clinical trial conducted at Deakin University. The trial added a
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Deakin biostatistician named ‘STEM superstar’
IPAN’s Dr Karen Lamb will join a national program promoting the achievements of women in science and technology. A research fellow from Deakin University’s world-leading Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN), Dr Karen Lamb has been welcomed to the inaugural 2017 “Superstars of STEM” Program. The 30 successful women
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‘High-prevalence’ mental health disorders cost society billions
New research puts a price on high-prevalence mental health conditions. Deakin University research has put a price on high-prevalence mental health conditions in Australia, with an estimated $12.8 billion attributed to depression, anxiety and substance-use, in terms of related health and other societal costs each year. This financial cost is
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Emma Sciberras – veski for inspiring woman
A Deakin researcher has been awarded a veski ‘Inspiring Women’ Fellowship, for the second year in a row. Dr Emma Sciberras, a senior lecturer within Deakin University’s School of Psychology and a practicing child psychologist, has received a coveted veski ‘Inspiring Women’ Fellowship. The award was presented at Government House
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Islet transplantation: positive step for people with type 1 diabetes
Professor Jane Speight has spoken on the benefits and issues of islet cell transplantation at the world’s leading diabetes conference. The transplantation of clusters of islet cells from a donor pancreas is offering an effective and minimally invasive procedure for people with type 1 diabetes – eliminating severe hypoglycaemia (very
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Playing in the goals not so easy
A world-first study has ranked positions in elite netball according to required playing intensity. While centre court netball players can claim the crown when it comes to physical exertion, goal based players are working a lot harder than previously thought. Goal-based positions are uniquely demanding, with players expending a lot
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Supporting survivors and carers – vital to cancer care
A team of Deakin researchers is seeking ways to improve support for cancer survivors and their carers. Around one million Australians are living with cancer – and every day there are 367 new cancer diagnoses. Researchers at Deakin’s Centre for Quality and Patient Safety Research (QPS) are widening their research
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Grant smooths way for silk eardrum trials
A major grant from the Wellcome Trust will allow researchers to take Deakin-designed silk eardrums to clinical trial. The innovative silk membrane implants designed by researchers at Deakin University and Ear Science Institute Australia (ESIA) as a treatment for perforated eardrums are a step closer to becoming a reality, thanks
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Physical education researcher grabs global attention
A paper drafted in response to a YouTube post has become the “most downloaded” paper in a prestigious teaching journal. Dr Lisa Barnett, a researcher from Deakin University's Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN) and the School of Health and Social Development, is delighted that her paper on the importance
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Positive spin on power of persuasion
A new study is seeking evidence that the power of supermarkets to influence our food choices can be used for good. Unhealthy diets and obesity are now the two biggest contributors to Australia’s burden of disease and the role that supermarkets play in our food choices is increasingly under the
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Filling the gaps in fisher health
An Australian-first survey hopes to provide the clearest picture yet of the health of workers in our commercial fishing industry. Recent research and widespread anecdotal reports indicate there is reason to be concerned about the mental health of those in the commercial fishing sector. However, while issues such as chronic
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Step forward for maggot medicine
A world-first method to produce entirely sterile colonies of blowflies will benefit research into maggot debridement therapy. Maggots are not the most glamourous of laboratory subjects, but research from Deakin University has highlighted the important role they have to play in treating wounds and fighting infections in a time of
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Exercise good for the spine
A world-first study has shown that specific physical activity benefits the discs in our spines and may help to prevent and manage spinal pain. “Running exercise strengthens the intervertebral disc,” recently published in Scientific Reports, challenges conventional wisdom in the field, according to lead researcher Associate Professor Daniel Belavy from
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Immunologist continues research at renowned US cancer centre
A Deakin alumnus is undertaking world-leading research – with the help of zebrafish. Dr Robert Sertori, who completed his PhD at Deakin in 2016, has been given the opportunity to continue his genetics research with a team of international researchers at one of the USA’s most prestigious research centres, the
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New test to reveal pesticide exposure
A recent study provides new information that may help researchers monitor the effects of common agricultural chemicals on farmers’ health. Concern over how the regular use of pesticides may affect the health of farmers is not new, but a lack of data specific to the Australian context has hampered efforts
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HIV discovery gives hope for better treatment
Researchers have found a new way to analyse the pieces that form HIV, paving the way for improved treatments that work to stop the virus developing in the human body. HIV continues to be a major global public health issue. In 2015, an estimated 36.7 million people were living with
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Scientists discover pathway to malaria treatment
Medical researchers have discovered an effective new way to combat an infectious disease killer. World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics on malaria estimated 212 million new infections, and 429,000 fatalities in 2015. Early malaria diagnosis and treatment can save lives, and an approach discovered by Professor Tania de Koning-Ward’s team of
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Autism research leads to start-up
A new company spun out of Deakin and The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health will explore the potential of promising new autism treatments. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is one of the most significant neurological conditions affecting children and their families, with approximately one in 100 people diagnosed with
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Theory of evolution leads to new cancer approach
A world-first book combining evolutionary ecology and oncology aims to improve cancer prevention and therapies. When Deakin University’s Dr Beata Ujvari was asked by a publishing company to suggest an idea for a book, she didn’t envision co-editing a first-of-its-kind publication in an exciting new scientific field. Dr Ujvari, a
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Centre for Research Excellence makes its mark in global obesity policy
A multidisciplinary, multi-university research team is influencing obesity and food policies around the world in the battle against obesity. Thirty-five researchers from Deakin, the University of Queensland, George Institute for Global Health, the University of Auckland and Fiji National University recently gathered at the Burwood Campus for the fourth annual
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Levelling the field so all can play
A Deakin University program is kicking goals for children with a disability. As a new AFL season begins, so does AFL Auskick, a program for children around the country to learn the skills and rules of the game with other kids their age. However, children with disabilities often miss out
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Australia Award for Deakin research partner
An Indian diabetes disease-biology expert who works closely with Deakin has won a prestigious Australian Government Award. Dr Muthuswamy Balasubramanyam, Dean of Research Studies and Senior Scientist with India’s Madras Diabetes Research Foundation (MDRF), Chennai  is one of eighteen Australia Awards Endeavour Ambassadors recently appointed to champion Australian Government Scholarships
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Understanding the social brain
Associate Professor Peter Enticott will drive a major study on children’s brain development. On board the “Mind Explorer #2” van, a team of Deakin University researchers from the Centre for Social and Early Emotional Development (SEED) plan “to boldly go where no van has gone before”. They will embark on
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The Women’s Ride
A Deakin researcher is driving initiatives to encourage female cyclists.  Dr Katie Rowe, a lecturer in Sport Management for the Deakin Business School and member of the Centre for Sport Research Strategic Research Centre, is applying her research to develop best practice approaches to increase women’s cycling participation. “My PhD
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Shedding light on children’s physical activity
A new study highlights some of the barriers children face in being more physically active in their local neighbourhoods. Walking, scooting and riding to and from school helps children get the physical activity they need each day to be healthy and can kick-start healthy habits to set them up for
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Geelong scientists sequence new virus affecting babies
GCEID scientists have sequenced a new virus that affects babies, in an important first step towards combating the illness. Geelong scientists have sequenced the genetic material of a new virus that has seen young babies hospitalised across south‐eastern Australia. The scientists were from the Geelong Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases
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Lecture to unravel mystery of maggots and their microbe friends
The Geelong community is invited to the Harrison Lecture for Innovation and Barry Jones Medal presentation. They might be much maligned, but the offspring of the detested blowfly have an important role to play in treating wounds and fighting infections. The Geelong community, including Deakin University staff and students, will
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What do you want to know about bipolar disorder?
An expert panel will address unanswered questions at a free community event in Geelong. Thursday 30 March is World Bipolar Day, part of an international drive to raise awareness about the disorder. To mark the event, Deakin University’s Innovation in Mental and Physical Health and Clinical Treatment (IMPACT) Strategic Research
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Bridging the gender gap to save lives
Awareness of gender differences in heart disease could prevent the number one killer of women. It is a scenario that is played out in emergency departments across Australia every day – a woman comes in with symptoms that don't fit the archetypal case of heart attack. She is not complaining
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Major grant targets healthy choices at the supermarket
A Deakin-led study that aims to alter consumer food choices has been successful in the latest round of NHMRC Partnership Grants. A partnership between Deakin University, Champions IGA, the City of Greater Bendigo and VicHealth has received almost $550,000 in the latest round of NHMRC Partnership Grants. Project leader Dr
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Old drugs prove better at treating bipolar disorder
Researchers have found an old treatment for bipolar disorder is much more effective than a newer medication. A Deakin University and Barwon Health study has tested the effects of lithium, a mood stabiliser introduced in the 1970s, compared with those of quetiapine, now a more commonly prescribed alternative, on patients
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Diet can treat major depression
A world-first trial conducted at Deakin University has shown for the first time that improving diet can treat major depression. Director of Deakin’s Food and Mood Centre, Professor Felice Jacka, said the results of her team’s new study offer a possible new treatment approach to depression, one of the world’s
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Agents of change in aged care
A series of Deakin studies into depression and aged care illustrates how the application of research can make a real difference in people’s lives. Rates of depression among residents of aged care hostels and homes are higher than those in the general community. However, the condition is often under-diagnosed and
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Happiness at a high in 21st century
Australians are more satisfied with their lives now than at any time since the year 2000. The latest Australian Unity Wellbeing Index survey found average life satisfaction in 2016 hit a record score of 76.7, the highest since the Index’s inception in 2000. The Index, a joint project between Deakin
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Heart Foundation supports vanguard research at Deakin
Four grants will allow researchers to lead innovative projects targeting heart disease in 2017. Deakin University has achieved outstanding success in the 2017 National Heart Foundation Vanguard Research scheme. The grants aim to support Australia’s best and brightest minds to investigate the causes, treatment and prevention of heart disease and
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Deakin – Australian Unity partnership develops app for carers
A world-first app developed by Deakin researchers in partnership with Australian Unity will help young carers manage their stress. An estimated 200,000+ Australians aged between 18 and 25 care for family and friends living with a physical or mental condition. Unfortunately, the responsibilities involved can take a toll on carers’
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Institute and Strategic Research Centre Directors
Improving Health and Wellbeing

Prof Xungai Wang

Director, Institute For Frontier Materials
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Prof Colin Barrow

Director, Centre for Chemistry and Biotechnology
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Prof David Crawford

Director, Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research
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Prof Tony LaMontagne

Director, Centre for Population Health Research
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Prof Michael Berk

Director, Centre for Innovation in Mental and Physical Health and Clinical Treatment
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Prof Alister Ward

Director, Centre for Molecular and Medical Research
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Prof Svetha Venkatesh

Director, Pattern Recognition and Data Analytics
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Prof Maxine Duke

Director, Centre for Quality and Patient Safety Research
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Prof Craig Olsson

Director, Centre for Social and Early Emotional Development
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