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.

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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Research partnership moves forward
Deakin and India’s Madras Diabetes Research Foundation are continuing their joint efforts to combat the global problem of diabetes. Diabetes is a growing issue around the world, with sobering statistics highlighting the impact of the disease in both Australia and India. According to peak body Diabetes Australia, an estimated 1.7
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Research offers future hope for early cancer diagnosis
Deakin scientists are investigating a promising new way to diagnose cancer early – with potential to improve survival rates and quality of life for patients in the future. Early cancer detection and treatment will be under the microscope at a new joint laboratory, established through a collaboration between Deakin University
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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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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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