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.

Victorian primary students on the move
The Deakin-developed Transform-Us! primary school physical activity program is set to be introduced across the State. Every Victorian primary school is being encouraged to sign up to a new online program, called Transform-Us!, which gives children more opportunities to move throughout the day – within the classroom, schoolyard and home
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Can yoga calm the black dog?
Growing evidence suggests yoga could benefit adults suffering from anxiety and depression. Researchers from Deakin University and Barwon Health are recruiting for a Geelong-based trial to examine how yoga could be used to complement traditional psychological treatments for people with depression and anxiety. The trial will bring together a unique
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Surgical management of shoulder instability is successful in AFL
Shoulder sprains and dislocations are the most common upper limb injury in the AFL, yet, until now, little has been known about the causes and best treatments. Deakin University researchers have recently conducted the first study on the management of shoulder injuries requiring surgery among elite AFL players. In comparison
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New centres for world-leading health research
Promoting healthy diets and developing innovative therapies for mental illness are the focus of two NHMRC Centres of Research Excellence at Deakin. Deakin University will develop two new research centres to investigate transformation of Australia’s food environments and to develop new therapies for the most common psychiatric disorders, under funding
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IVF and the Birth of Bioethics in Australia
In the four decades since the birth of the 'test-tube' baby, the field of bioethics has been at the forefront of trying to understand what advancing biotechnologies mean for society, writes Alfred Deakin Institute researcher, Dr Christopher Mayes. July 25, 2018 marked 40 years since the first baby was born
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Knowledge is power when it comes to better health 
Sections of the population struggle to access and translate healthcare-related information into action, a Deakin study has found. A study on health literacy among women has found people from lower socioeconomic and educational backgrounds, as well as those born overseas, are less likely to have the right kind of information
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Life is good for young Australians
Feelings of greater connectedness, personal safety and a higher living standard are contributing to happier young Australian adults, a Deakin study has found. An analysis of 16 years of data from the Australian Unity Wellbeing Index survey has found the life satisfaction scores of the nation's 18-25 year olds has
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Better support called for ex-prisoners
Engaged support networks are the key to helping ex-prisoners return to society. The prison system and the wider community have always had a complex relationship. In Australia, the current national two-year recidivism rate sits at 45 per cent and, despite millions of tax dollars put into the criminal justice system
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New support for Food and Mood
Research into how gut microbiota impacts on our mental health has received a boost through a generous donation to Deakin’s Food & Mood Centre. Australian philanthropic organisation The Wilson Foundation will invest $1 million to support Deakin University's Food & Mood Centre to further its cutting-edge research linking the human
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Re-thinking the impact of diabetes
A Deakin academic, whose Chair is funded by Diabetes Victoria, is one of 23 international experts working on a major new European Union project to reduce the burden and consequences of one of the condition’s most common and serious complications – hypoglycaemia. Professor Jane Speight, Foundation Director of the Australian
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Deakin-Nordic relations soar to new heights
A Deakin delegation to the University of Copenhagen and other European institutions has seen relationships strengthened and initiatives established.
 The development of strong institutional relationships across Europe is set to advance Deakin’s research agenda and provide significant opportunities for students and staff. A recent visit by members of the Deakin
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Super milk takes on super bugs
The special properties of platypus milk might hold the key to overcoming antibiotic resistance. The duck-billed, web-footed, beaver-tailed, egg-laying platypus is often described as “God’s joke”, but the joke may be on antimicrobial resistant bacteria after the discovery of a unique protein in platypus milk. Deakin University’s Dr Julie Sharp,
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Fast food companies ignoring nutrition fuels public health crisis: study
Water should be the default drink for kids’ fast food meals while kilojoules in meal deals should be reduced, according to Deakin researchers. A first-of-its-kind evaluation of the nutrition policies of Australia’s biggest takeaway outlets found the majority did not publicly identify health or nutrition as a focus area. The
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Eating better a cheaper option for dealing with depression
Support for switching to a Mediterranean-style diet is a more cost-effective way of treating clinical depression, according to a study published by Deakin researchers today. Simple improvements to diet have been shown to be a cost-effective way to help treat depression, in a world-first study from Deakin University. The study has
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Deakin academic joins Genomics Health Futures Mission
Deakin University medical and cultural anthropologist Professor Emma Kowal has been appointed to an expert advisory committee for the landmark Genomics Health Futures Mission. The $500 million Australian Genomics Health Futures Mission is the centrepiece of the Federal Government’s $1.3 billion National Health and Medical Industry Growth Plan announced in
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New Institute unites health transformers
A consummate networker, Professor Anna Peeters, inaugural Director of the Institute for Healthcare Transformation, will work to unite stakeholders to achieve ambitious goals for Deakin’s sixth Institute. Solving complex challenges is most likely to be achieved through combining multiple perspectives –and that is the opportunity that most energises Professor Anna
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Helping farmers heal
Injured farmers are returning to work before they should and need rehabilitation support tailored to their unique work environment, a new study has found. Farmers should have access to tailored rehabilitation programs after serious workplace injuries, according to a first-of-its-kind study from Deakin University which has found farmers’ unique needs
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Responding to childhood obesity
Researchers are using systems science methods in the fight against obesity. A Deakin University-led NHMRC Partnership Project Grant will trial a whole of community approach to childhood obesity prevention in Northern Victoria, using systems science to guide planning and implementation and accelerate efforts to prevent childhood obesity. The five-year “Reflexive
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French President signs off on cancer research collaboration with Deakin
An agreement between French President Emmanuel Macron and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will see Deakin University collaborate with French research institutions and the University of Tasmania on a new international cancer research laboratory. The collaboration will include formation of a Laboratoire International Associé (LIA) – a “laboratory without walls”
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Sports participation reduces fracture risk in older men: study
Playing sport may help protect men over 60 from broken bones, according to new research. Researchers from Deakin University’s Epi-Centre for Healthy Ageing at Barwon Health have found that participation in sporting activity is associated with a reduced risk of fracture in older men. Although other research has investigated associations
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Making science real for all children
The Deakin Child Study Centre yesterday launched new facilities to support its work in making a difference in the lives of children with neurodevelopmental challenges. Children and adolescents with neurodevelopmental challenges such as autism and ADHD and their families can access the latest tools and research to help them thrive
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Diet, not genes, determines sensitivity to fat
In a study of twins, Deakin researchers have discovered that diet affects individuals’ preference for fat, so the more fat people eat, the more they will need to feel satisfied. A taste for fat is not driven by genetics, rather it’s all down to diet, a new Deakin University study
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Bystander research guides Victoria’s family violence strategy
Deakin research on the effectiveness of bystander intervention is underpinning a new campaign to reduce Victoria’s incidence of family violence. A report by researchers at Deakin University will inform the next phase of the Victorian “Bystanders for Primary Prevention Program,” which aims to empower Victorians to call out discrimination and
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Childhood exercise: heart benefits last well into adulthood
Researchers from IPAN have shown that young hearts benefit from exercise well into adulthood. World-first research has shown exercise begun early in life markedly increases the number of muscle cells in the heart – once thought to stop producing new cells after birth – and has a benefit that lasts
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Adolescents’ struggle: is a generation at risk?
World-leading experts on child development are calling for global action to address risk factors and improve support for adolescents. Adolescence has never been longer or more important for individuals and the human race, claim a group of eminent Australian child development experts, who have called on global decision makers to
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Food companies could do better: report
The score card says there’s room for improvement in the nutrition policies of Australia’s biggest food companies. Only half of Australia’s biggest food and beverage manufacturers achieved a passing grade for their nutrition policies and all of them could be doing far more to address the nation’s serious obesity problem.
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Starting the conversation
Research from Deakin’s Institute of Koorie Education has revealed the devastating impacts problem gambling has on Indigenous communities. Including recommendations for state and Federal authorities in a Masters’ thesis is not the conventional thing to do. But Janis Koolmatrie, a schoolteacher for 40 years, Elder in Residence at Deakin University’s
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Sweet drinks fuel obesity gap
Children in Australia’s lowest socioeconomic group are consuming more sugary drinks and savoury junk food than their wealthier peers, leading to much higher rates of obesity. Research from the Global Obesity Centre (GLOBE) within Deakin University’s Centre for Population Health Research has revealed that half of the children in Australia’s
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Supermarkets can do more in fight against obesity: study
Australian supermarkets need to take more responsibility for obesity prevention, according to a first-of-its-kind study ranking the nutrition policies of Australia’s biggest supermarkets. A new report launched today by researchers at Deakin University’s Global Obesity Centre (GLOBE) has assessed the obesity prevention and nutrition related policies and commitments of the
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Study trials new way to beat cigarette cravings
An over-the-counter nutritional supplement could hold the key to smokers quitting for good. Deakin University’s Centre for Innovation in Mental and Physical Health and Clinical Treatment (IMPACT) has pioneered research using N-acetylcysteine (NAC) – a naturally occurring substance found in many green leafy vegetables – for the treatment of mental
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Eating disorder treatments cost-effective but under-funded
First-of-its-kind research has analysed the cost-effectiveness of front-line treatments for eating disorders in Australia. Psychotherapies for life-threatening and debilitating eating disorders are cost-effective, but public funding is available for less than half the amount of sessions the average person needs, according to Deakin University-led research. Lead researcher Mr Long Le,
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Environment can change our genes’ behaviour
A world-first study of pregnant women has shown in humans for the first time that pregnancy can induce long-term epigenetic changes to our bodies, with major implications for understanding, preventing and treating disease. Deakin University scientists have discovered that pregnancy can cause long-term changes to the way women's genes behave,
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Trial to address sleep problems in children with autism
A world-first Deakin trial is aiming to address a big issue faced by most children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) – lack of sleep. Deakin University’s Dr Emma Sciberras, from the Deakin Child Study Centre in the School of Psychology, said the trial would explore whether improving sleep could bring
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‘Nature’ theme playground more than doubles park visits
An innovative play-scape in a local park that focusses on ‘real world’ experiences has substantially increased physical activity at the park. Deakin University researchers have shown that playgrounds designed to encourage children to connect with the natural environment, such as mazes, nature play areas, climbing equipment and sculptures, can significantly
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Global partnership to improve children’s lives
A collaboration between Deakin and India’s leading mental health and neurosciences institute, NIMHANS, has led to the establishment of a joint centre of research excellence in developmental disorders.  Deakin University’s long-term research relationship with India’s National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) has taken another step forward with the
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Family ties
New Deakin research highlights the growing number of adult children caring for their ageing parents, and the health issues it can exacerbate for older people and caregivers alike. Caring for Australia’s growing ageing population is major issue for the country – and families. “The care provided to older parents in
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Making healthy easier
A request from a rural health service for help with reducing avoidable hospital admissions has led to an award winning collaboration that’s improving the health and wellbeing of Victoria’s rural and remote communities. Almost four hours’ drive from Melbourne, Yarriambiack Shire Council stretches from the Wimmera River just north of
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‘Baby brain’ is real
New research supports what many women already know – that the phenomenon known as “baby brain” does exist, although further investigation is needed to determine its effect on expecting mothers. Findings from Deakin University researchers published today in the “Medical Journal of Australia” show that women do experience what’s scientifically
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Three new NHMRC projects aim to improve health outcomes
Deakin research teams will advance projects that aim to reduce childhood allergies, improve cardiac rehabilitation and build patient health literacy. Many Australians are likely to benefit from three innovative Deakin University research projects that have been funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) in the funding round
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Funding success for cardiovascular research
Physical activity, public park design and monitoring the pricing of unhealthy food will all be explored in Deakin-led research projects awarded funding from the Heart Foundation. Deakin University has received two Future Leader Fellowships and a Vanguard grant in the recent round of Heart Foundation funding for cardiovascular research. Dr
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Deakin six join world’s ‘most highly cited’
The University’s research trajectory has reached a new peak, with six academics being ranked within the world’s top one per cent. The leading indicator of the world’s best researchers, the Clarivate Analytics “Highly Cited Researchers” list has included five Deakin University health researchers and an economist in 2017. The researchers
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Exploring the frontiers of global health
Innovations in global healthcare will be the focus of a symposium hosted by Deakin and its research partners in India. Since becoming the first international university to establish an office in India in 1994, Deakin University has built collaborations with some of India’s leading universities, research institutions and corporations, including
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Creative chemist named ‘Tall Poppy’
With treatment breakthroughs for diseases like TB and cancer to his credit – and a talent for communication – Luke Henderson has received a Victorian “Young Tall Poppy” Science Award. Using forensic science to create “crime scenes” to engage primary school-aged “detectives” is one way that Deakin University’s Associate Professor
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Easing the stress of diabetes
A new study by Deakin researchers aims to help health professionals better support people with diabetes distress. One of the most common emotional health problems affecting people with diabetes, diabetes distress involves the concerns, frustrations and fears arising specifically from living with and managing diabetes. Australian and international studies have
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Smart app for diabetes
A Deakin PhD student is working on mobile health technology for the prevention of diabetes. The use of smartphones and other mobile devices to deliver healthcare and preventative health services is increasing and is seen as a particularly important healthcare tool in low and middle-income countries. The benefits of using
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World-first discovery of new carbohydrate ‘taste’
Deakin scientists have identified a potential seventh “taste” – carbohydrate – and are working to uncover how it’s linked to consumption of starchy foods. Researchers from Deakin University’s Centre of Advanced Sensory Science (CASS) have shown that taste sensitivity to carbohydrates increases intakes of energy and carbohydrates, and leads to
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New Deakin WHO Centre targets global health literacy
The world’s first WHO Collaborating Centre for Health Literacy has been launched. Deakin University has launched the WHO Collaborating Centre for Health Literacy – its second World Health Organisation (WHO) Collaborating Centre. It joins the WHO Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention – also located within Deakin’s Centre for Population Health
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A picture of physical literacy
Researchers have developed a new definition of physical literacy for Australia. The Australian Sports Commission (ASC) has released a definition of physical literacy that will underpin a national standard designed to improve the physical activity levels, holistic development and health of all Australians. Dr Lisa Barnett, from Deakin University’s Institute
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Funding boost for malaria and mental health research
Researchers from CMMR and IMPACT have been awarded NHMRC Fellowships to further their work on new ways to treat two of the world’s most taxing health issues. Deakin University researchers working on novel treatments for malaria and depression have received funding worth a total of more than $1m in National
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Sixties lifestyle sets stage for healthy ageing
Two academics are calling for a shift in awareness on ‘pretirees,’ who face a fork in the road - leading to either healthy ageing or chronic disease threats. Professor Julie Pasco and Professor Michael Berk, from Deakin University’s Centre for Innovation in Mental, Physical and Clinical Treatment (IMPACT), based at
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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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