The new Director of Perth's Telethon Institute for Child Health Research says his focus will be to ensure that high quality research is effectively translated to health practice and policy so that it makes a real difference to the lives of children and families.
The University of Western Australia's Winthrop Professor Jonathan Carapetis started in the role this week after heading the highly respected Menzies School of Health Research in Darwin, where he doubled staff numbers and tripled research income in six years.
Professor Carapetis was appointed after an international search for a successor to the Institute's Founding Director Professor Fiona Stanley, who retired at the end of last year.
Professor Carapetis said he was very keen to forge strong links with the people delivering health services at hospitals and the Health Department.
"As a paediatrician I know how important it is to have that strong connection between practice and research. It not only means that we're working on the basis of the latest evidence but that what we see in clinics can also be fed back to shape and inform the type of research that's undertaken," Professor Carapetis said.
"The Telethon Institute has an outstanding record of advocacy and influence and I'll be very keen to see that continue and grow.
"In particular, Aboriginal child health research will continue to be a priority area and I am committed to pursuing that agenda at both the Institute level and through my own research interest in rheumatic heart disease."
Professor Carapetis said he was also excited by the Telethon Institute's strong focus on scientific discovery.
It's very important that we better understand the biological basis underpinning the disease process at the cellular and molecular levels as well as the influence of genetic and environmental factors.
"I think the mix of translational and discovery science is very powerful and gives the Institute a breadth and depth that sees it very well positioned for the future."
With the Institute's geographical position on Australia's west coast, Professor Carapetis said he was keen to increase its activity in international health issues.
"Our proximity to Asia and Africa and our expertise in child development and Indigenous child health research presents some excellent opportunities within the broader region," he said.
The Telethon Institute for Child Health Research was founded in 1990 and has more than 500 staff and postgraduate students investigating major diseases, disabilities and disorders affecting children and families.
ABOUT PROFESSOR JONATHAN CARAPETIS
Professor Jonathan Carapetis holds separate qualifications as a medical practitioner (MBBS), specialist paediatrician (FRACP Paediatrics), specialist infectious diseases physician (FRACP Infect Dis) and specialist public health physician (FAFPHM), as well as a PhD.
He is recognised as a leading mind in the Australian health field, with particular expertise in Indigenous child health.
Professor Carapetis was Director of the Menzies School of Health Research in Darwin for six years where he forged new directions in research and training to tackle the big problems in Indigenous health.
Amongst his many accolades, Professor Carapetis was named 2008 Northern Territory Australian of the Year. He has also been named by Cosmos magazine as one of Australia's top 100 brains, was selected in the top 10 in Medicine and Health in the Bulletin magazine's "Smart 100" list and attended the Prime Minister's 20:20 summit in Canberra in 2008.
Professor Carapetis has made an international contribution and commitment to the reduction of rheumatic heart disease. While rare in most developed countries, Australia has one of the highest rates of the disease in the world due to its prevalence within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, particularly in Northern Australia.
Professor Carapetis undertook his medical training at the Royal Melbourne and Royal Children's Hospitals.
Previous positions include terms as Director of the Centre for International Child Health at the University of Melbourne, Theme Director at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Melbourne and Clinical Fellow in Paediatric Infectious Diseases at the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada.
Professor Carapetis is married with two daughters.
Janine MacDonald (UWA Public Affairs) (+61 8) 6488 5563 / (+61 4) 32 637 716
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