Outstanding medical research at The University of Western Australia has again been recognised nationally with the naming of one of its staff among Australia's top 10 health researchers for 2011.
The National Health and Medical Research Council has included Winthrop Professor Fiona Stanley - Australian of the Year in 2003 and an advocate for the needs of children and their families - in its "Ten of the Best Research Projects 2011" announced today.
The inclusion pays tribute to researchers who have contributed most to the nation's wellbeing. Last year, two other UWA researchers - Winthrop Professor Susan Prescott and Associate Professor Kevin Pfleger - were named in the national top 10.
The Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor of The University of Western Australia, Professor Bill Louden, said the inclusion of Professor Stanley's work in the 2011 best national medical research projects demonstrated the consistently high calibre of work undertaken by UWA researchers.
"Ultimately, high-level medical research at UWA leads to better health outcomes for the whole community both nationally and internationally," Professor Louden said.
Professor Stanley is a UWA graduate and founding Director of the Perth-based Telethon Institute for Child Health Research (ICHR), which is affiliated with UWA.
She was cited today in the NHMRC's "Ten of the Best Research Projects 2011" as Chief Investigator for early intervention research into the "Determinants of child health and development: populations".
The NHMRC said the work of her multidisciplinary team had led to the mandatory inclusion of folate in flour, lowering the risk that a mother's diet could cause her child to be born with spina bifida.
The research had reduced the numbers of Indigenous children needing antibiotics or hospitalisation for pneumonia, gastroenteritis and other infections, and initiated vaccination programs which caused declines in childhood pneumococcal disease and meningitis.
Her team's research also showed that a recorded increase in autism was due mainly to changes in diagnostic practices. Their work also instigated the establishment of a national approach to cerebral palsy research and treatment, and provided a platform to introduce the Australian Early Development Index.
Professor Stanley is the UNICEF Australia Ambassador for Early Childhood Development.