Robert Newton

Professor Robert Newton

Co-Director, Exercise Medicine Research Institute



I am the Foundation Professor of Exercise and Sports Science and Co-Director of the Exercise Medicine Research Institute. I have been working in academia for more than 30 years and ECU is the sixth University at which I have been employed, including two universities in the United States, the Pennsylvania State University and Ball State University. My alma mater is the University of Queensland.

My principal research focus is exercise medicine for the management of cancer and treatment side-effects with particular emphasis on identifying and understanding the biological mechanisms by which exercise medicine suppresses tumour progression.

I have spent much of my career working in the elite athlete environment researching the effects of physical training on human performance. This knowledge has been invaluable for informing my clinical research to develop new exercise prescriptions targeting specific patient populations and pathologies.

ECU recruited me in 2002. The purpose was to greatly increase research activity and output in the University and to achieve this quite rapidly. At the time I was the Director of the Biomechanics Laboratory at one of the leading universities in my field in North America. I had NIH funding, established strong networks, industry partnerships and excellent support from Ball State University. It was a daunting prospect to move to the other side of the planet especially as I had a young family and my academic career was progressing so well.

I was invited to come to interview at ECU and see the University and Perth firsthand. I was highly impressed with the facilities, staff and university leaders.

I have seen all of the major laboratories and departments in my field in the world and can state that the capability at ECU then and now is second to none.

All of my concerns about giving up my laboratory, research and funding support in the United States disappeared when I saw the potential before me to grow my research team and career at ECU. The fact that Perth has one of the best lifestyles of any city on earth was also an important added bonus for me and my family.

In my field of medicine and health, Perth in Western Australia is a particularly vibrant environment for research collaboration. There is a high concentration of world-class facilities, research scientists and clinicians developing and translating internationally- competitive solutions to contemporary health issues. The openness and collegiality of academics and clinicians in Perth is exemplary and refreshing.

ECU provides a very high level of support for research leaders to excel, grow their team and the capability to compete nationally and internationally for research funding, industry engagement and publication. This support features targeted funding for early career researchers, support for postdoctoral fellows, ready availability of excellent scholarships for quality postgraduate research students, very generous cash and in-kind contributions to industry and competitive external grant applications, and a strong commitment to infrastructure development and equipment acquisition.

The existing facilities at ECU are at world standard for research, teaching and engagement with the most modern buildings and equipment and new infrastructure constantly being added.

When I moved from the United States to Western Australia I knew our lifestyle and quality of life would be better. But to be honest my main concern was that I would lose my international research and industry partners and opportunities.

What eventuated could not be further from the truth. I was able to maintain all of my links in the United States and, over the past decade, my network has expanded greatly in particular into Europe, the Middle East and Asia where the most exciting expansions in my field are occurring.

I now have strong international research collaborations with UCSF, Ohio State University, Purdue University, University of Hong Kong, Beijing Sports University, German Sports University, University of Verona, University of Lisbon, University College Dublin, University of Jyvaskyla, to name but a few. Industry partnerships have actually increased since moving to Western Australia most prominent being Nike, Red Bull, Abbvie Pharmaceuticals, Astra Zeneca, and Novartis.

There are also numerous smaller start-up and established biomedical companies in Western Australia which are exciting to work with and are highly engaged with local researchers.

My top 10 reasons to consider moving to ECU:

  1. Very flat administrative structure with exceptional access to the University leaders and decision-makers.
  2. Excellent strategic location being in a very safe and stable country with tremendous access to Asia and in particular China, Singapore, Japan, India and South Korea.
  3. Vibrant, collegial and progressive medical and health research environment that's strongly supported by the Universities, industry and government of Western Australia.
  4. A University that gets things done and makes opportunities happen.
  5. ECU unwaveringly promotes and adheres to its core values of Integrity, Respect, Rational Inquiry and Personal Excellence which makes for a pleasant work environment while encouraging personal and professional aspiration.
  6. Some of the best schools and universities in the country are in Perth and make for a first-rate location to raise a family.
  7. Fantastic lifestyle in one of the most beautiful cities in the world and within a state with some of the most incredible natural features anywhere in Australia.
  8. Perth is a highly multicultural and cosmopolitan city with all of the culture, sporting, culinary and artistic features of a world metropolis, but with no pollution, low crime, high tolerance of difference, environment of social and political stability, and high affluence due to our enormous natural resources.
  9. ECU and Western Australia are a fantastic destination for family and colleagues, as well as hosting international conferences. It is not difficult to get people to visit.
  10. Because Western Australia is rapidly growing in wealth, infrastructure and industry there are extensive opportunities for the family and partner of incoming professors to continue their own career and personal aspirations.