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Exercise medicine for the prevention and management of chronic disease

ECU's Exercise Medicine Research Institute is a cross-disciplinary alliance of research centres and expertise with extensive national and international linkages.

It is the first institute of its kind at an Australian university to bring together an expert team of researchers committed to improving community health and wellbeing.

In partnership with national and international networks, the institute enhances collaboration and promotes a holistic approach to health and lifestyle.

Project scope

This sub-project, led by Professor Rob Newton, involves deepening and broadening ECU's exercise medicine research capabilities for the prevention and management of chronic diseases, particularly those conditions causing profound suffering in our society.

These include cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, sarcopenia, obesity, Alzheimer's disease, depression, osteoarthritis and age-related frailty.

Project partners

The partner Universities involved in this sub-project are:

  • Professor Jeff Coombes from the University of Queensland; and
  • Professor Maria Fiatarone Singh from the University of Sydney

Project objectives

The sub-project will result in:

  • research-defining and effective, disease-specific exercise programs to integrate optimally with pharmaceutical, surgical, nutritional, psychological and other treatments for best patient outcomes; and
  • the development of evidence-based ‘best practice’ models of health care with appropriate referral pathways to health professionals and teams to maximise research translation;
  • opportunities in the CRN project for Exercise medicine for the prevention and management of chronic diseases;

CRN Research Leadership Management Group

The governance arrangements for the CRN sub-project are primarily mandated by the overarching governance structure of the CRN program managed by the Steering committee. The Research Leadership Management Group within this sub-project comprises the following members:

  • Professor Robert Newton (Chair and Sub-project Leader), Edith Cowan University
  • Associate Professor Daniel Galv√£o, Edith Cowan University;
  • Associate Professor Jeff Coombes, University of Queensland;
  • Professor Maria Fiatarone Singh from the University of Sydney;
  • Mr Regis William (CRN Research Development Officer), Edith Cowan University; and
  • Other – Ex officio membership (people invited to contribute to a specialised expertise)

Group role

The Group sets overall research direction, observe governance practices and fiduciary responsibilities as set out in the overall CRN agreement.

The Chair is accountable to the Steering Committee for its research program and operations. A model of collaborative leadership applies in that all partners are expected to take a lead role in their respective areas to foster research growth through engagement, develop and oversee postgraduate research, and the quality and delivery of research output. Additionally, the Group promotes CRN activities to raise its reputation scientifically, clinically and commercially in the international and national community.

To date the Group have met on three occasions to discuss and formulate project design and implementation, postgraduate recruitment and effective collaborative working arrangements that will enable future research capacity.

Future aims

To continue to build a research program that will allow for the scaling of research capacity through the leverage of collaboration, provision of research income, internationalisation, attraction of high-calibre researchers, research training, development of intellectual property, enhance the University’s area of research strength in health and wellness and generate significant research outputs. Building enduring collaborative networks with academic and clinical partners (nationally and internationally) has been an important feature of our CRN program to provide long term research sustainability for the Team. The long term strategy is to provide total research independence of the team by securing large scale long term collaborative funded projects that potentially could include a Co-operative Research Centre in Exercise Medicine or a Centre of Excellence.

Equally important are the potential research partnerships with health and hospital professionals that exist with the expansion of the WA health network. The Exercise Medicine Research Institute is strategically positioned within the growing health precinct of Perth’s northern suburbs enabling further clinical collaboration to support the cancer research program of the team. The Joondalup Health Campus, located at close proximity to the University campus is expanding as part of a $393 million WA Health Department redevelopment which is delivering extensive new facilities and expanded services for public and private patients. As part of this expansion, ECU has made an investment into the new clinical school.

ECU continues its active commitment to health service delivery and research and this is clearly evident from its involvement in the expanding Joondalup health precinct and a suite of regional initiatives which services Perth’s northern corridor, including the outer-metro region. This integrated suite of regional initiatives includes the ECU-led Wanneroo GP Super Clinic, an interprofessional ambulatory care clinic on the University campus and a Mobile Health Service. Building on this engagement, the University is in ongoing discussions with the Department of WA Health about potential research collaboration at the Fiona Stanley Hospital that could provide the University with a further geographic catchment population to enable ECU to expand its medical, health and clinical platforms.

Evidence of this growing health alliance is the recently established exercise Clinic at Genesis Care, Shenton House, Joondalup.

In an Australian first, cancer patients will be able to see both their oncologist and exercise physiologist under one roof. The exercise clinic, complete with a fully equipped gym staffed by ECU exercise physiologists, will allow patients to include tailored exercise programs as part of their cancer treatment.


Research Support Staff

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