By 2020 the number of new cases diagnosed annually will reach approximately 150,000 - an increase of almost 40% from 2007. Despite advances in novel anti-cancer therapies that are revolutionising how and where we treat people affected by cancer, outcomes from these diseases remain highly variable across disease types, Indigenous status, gender and social status.
Our cancer research programs focus on examining and developing novel methods to respond to modifiable risk factors that impact, patient experience and clinical outcomes, including: communication and health literacy, disease and treatment-related problems, psychosocial factors, health service system and process issues, and health promoting opportunities such as the role of exercise rehabilitation and physical activity in cancer care. We do this across several different types of cancers.
Our programs of research in child health and wellbeing are extensive and span areas of health and social care. In the area of children's health we undertake world-leading research relating to learning and communication in children with cochlear implants, advances in bilateral and binaural hearing; the assessment of pain in preverbal children; the physiology of the neonate/parent interaction; improving the safety and quality of care of hospitalized children, and advances in child physiotherapy.
We are committed to supporting children's care undertaking applied research that addresses some of our most pressing social concerns, for example, understanding the dynamics of child abuse and family violence, and developing and embedding social innovations that make a positive difference in the lives of vulnerable children.
Neuroscience & Mental Health
The field of neuroscience encompasses understanding the fundamental organisation and principles of the nervous system, through complex neural systems and behaviours. Disorders of the brain and other neural tissues represent some of the leading causes of death and disability in Australia, and are a key research theme for the university as evidenced by the establishment of the Melbourne Neuroscience Institute and significant involvement in the Melbourne Brain Centre.
Our neuroscience research is strongly focused on sensory neuroscience (both vision and hearing), speech neuroscience and neurological rehabilitation. Our sensory and speech programs aim to improve understanding of how the brain performs neural computations, whether such processes are altered across the lifespan, as well as studying how normal neural processing is conducted by the peripheral sensory organs (eye and ear). Our neurological rehabilitation programs are directed to improving functional impairments and health related quality of life in individuals with acute and chronic neurological disorders including traumatic brain injury, stroke and Parkinson disease. We conduct a breadth of research directed to enhancing knowledge and future treatment of specific neurological disorders, in particular those affecting the sensory systems.
The immune system is key to fighting infection, but also plays a role in unwanted responses such as allergies and excessive chronic inflammation following clearance of pathogens.
Our research is aimed at assessing the biochemical mechanisms that underpin immunological and inflammatory responses in the eye (eg. corneal and retinal) and on the eye's surface (e.g. in conditions of dry eye and contact lens wear). The research is directed to understand the cellular and chemical mechanisms of eye disease, with the translational goal of improved treatments for eye disorders. Additionally, inflammation plays a key role in normal wound healing whereas abnormal inflammatory responses are associated with the most common forms of chronic lower limb ulceration. Our research explores methods of identifying and managing chronic inflammatory changes in leg ulcers and other chronic wounds.
Health and wellbeing across the lifespan
Our programs of research focus on these prioritised action areas for the Australian population, and include development and evaluation of interventions for individuals recovering from trauma, major surgery, critical illness and mental health impairments; conservative management strategies for individuals with musculoskeletal dysfunction and sports injuries and for those with hearing impairments receiving cochlear implants and with speech and language disorders.