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April 2016


Welcome to the third newsletter of the SA Academic Health Science and Translation Centre.

This newsletter will be issued regularly to keep you up-to-date on the work of the SA Centre and its Partners.

Having initially focussed on the establishment of Governance arrangements, the SA Center has now fully moved into its operational phase following the appointment of the SA Centre Executive Officer.
With our priorities for 2016 - 2017 now clearly defined, projects such as the "Beat Bowel Cancer" Project, the development of an Evaluation Framework for Transforming Health and the establishment of the Cardiac Rehabilitation Working Group are up and running.

This is an exciting time for the SA Centre as it continues to build on new and existing projects and partnerships in areas such as Aboriginal health e.g. the SA Aboriginal Heart and Stroke Plan, the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program and the Frailty Trans-Disciplinary Research Project which are all progressing well.

I look forward to the year ahead as a time of consolidation and collaboration as we work together towards achieving the SA Centre’s Vision and Goals.

Professor Steve Wesselingh
Honorary Director

New logo for SA Centre

SA Centre Executive Officer Appointed

We are pleased to announce that in early February Iris O’Rourke was appointed as Executive Officer for the SA Academic Health Science and Translation Centre. Having previously worked in the Office of Science Technology and Research with the SA Government as a Principal Policy officer, Iris will bring a range of experience to her new role where she will be responsible for the provision of high level support to the SA Centre's Honorary Director and its Committees, and ensuring that the SA Centre meets the requirements outlined by the National Health and Medical Research Council.

Iris can be contacted on:

P: 08 8128 4017


SA Centre Priorities Finalised for 2016 - 2017

Following extensive consideration of a range of priority areas identified in consultation with SA Centre Governance Committees, the SA Centre Executive Group formally endorsed SA Centre priorities for 2016 – 2017 which are a combination of clearly defined research based priority areas, and cross-cutting thematic priorities integral to facilitating the translational pathway:

  • Aboriginal Health
  • Colorectal Cancer
  • Cardiac Rehabilitation
  • Mental Health
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • The First 1000 Days of Life


Data Delivery and Access

Translation of Evidence-Based Practice:

Translation of evidence-based practice to normalise relative utilisation of health services in SA known to be high e.g. arthroscopy, hysterectomy, c-section, diabetic amputation.

Evidence Based Pathways:

Development and consistent implementation and audit of evidence-based pathways for known high morbidity and mortality in SA e.g. stroke, diabetes.

Translational Pipeline:

  • Clinical trials
  • Commercialisation

SA Centre Commercialisation Sub-Committee Chair Appointed

Dr Meera Verma, has been appointed as the Chair of the SA Centre Commercialisation Sub-Committee. Currently the Acting Chief Executive for BioInnovation SA, Meera has sat on a diverse range of committees, boards and executive panels.  Meera was the winner of the Zaffyre International Private & Corporate Sector Award in the 2006 Telstra Business Womens’ Awards, and in 2007 she won the BioInnovation SA leadership award. Meera is currently preparing a concept paper and action plan for the sub-committee which is to be presented to the Executive Group in early May for endorsement.

Cancer Arm for the SA Centre Formalised

In early February the SA Centre Executive Group formally recognised the South Australian Comprehensive Cancer Consortium (SACCC) as the ‘cancer arm’ of the SA Centre. The SACCC will oversee cancer activities in the State, and bring together the required knowledge and experience to ensure cancer research is actively translated to policy and clinical practice for the benefit of improved patient outcomes and population health.

New SA Centre Collaborative Partnerships

We are pleased to announce two new collaborative research partnerships for the SA Centre:
  • The Antimicrobial Stewardship Program
  • Centre of Research Excellence: Frailty Trans-Disciplinary Research to Achieve Healthy Ageing

Centre of Research Excellence: Frailty Trans-Disciplinary Research To Achieve Healthy Ageing

Most people associate the word ‘frailty’ with being old, fragile or very weak. However, to someone working in geriatrics, ‘frailty’ is a state of vulnerability due to impairment of multiple physiological functions which results in failure to maintain homeostasis and an increased vulnerability to intervening acute ‘stressors’. Frailty can be characterised by many symptoms and signs including a loss of muscle mass and strength, decreased mobility and endurance, slow movements and reduced activity. Frailty carries with it an increased risk for poor future health outcomes including falls, incident disability, hospitalization and mortality.

By 2050 as many as four million Australians aged 70 years and older will either be frail or at-risk of frailty. Intervention to prevent and hopefully reverse frailty is essential for the wellbeing of individuals and to reduce the burden on healthcare systems.

The new Centre for Research Excellence Frailty Trans-Disciplinary Research To Achieve Healthy Aging, led by Professor Renuka Visvanathan, is a national team of collaborators from in the fields of geriatrics, general practice, orthopaedic surgery, rehabilitation medicine, nursing, geriatric pharmacotherapy, gero-kinesiology, health economics, knowledge translation and geography.

Professor Renuka Visvanathan

The centre is funded from 2015 to 2020 by the National Health and Medical Research Council, The Hospital Research Foundation and the University of Adelaide to establish a global frailty research network with three international frailty research and clinical centres of excellence in St Louis University, USA, Dalhousie University, Canada and Universite de Toulouse, France. The centre links nationally through The University of Adelaide – including the Geriatrics Training & Research with Aged Care Centre (G-TRAC), The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, The University of Sydney, Monash University and The Royal Adelaide Hospital.

This team will build capacity by training the next generation of clinical and research experts in frailty and also lead research to define and map the extent of frailty, develop and test a new health economics model for frailty, test the implementation of a screening pathway for general practice and develop and pilot novel interventions to treat frailty. This funding will support vital research that will contribute to Healthy Ageing and help older people live longer with quality.

For further information please contact Centre manager: Leonie Baker

Establishment of SA Centre Cardiac Rehabilitation and Secondary Prevention Working Group

One of the first translation priorities for the SA Centre in the cardiovascular health space is “Cardiac Rehabilitation and Secondary Prevention” with the establishment of a new working group Chaired by Professor Steve Nicholls to drive action in this area.

The Cardiac Rehabilitation and Secondary Prevention working group presents a great opportunity to reassemble some of the efforts already initiated under the previous SA Cardiology Clinical Network, while also refocusing actions to incorporate the changing landscape associated with SA Health’s Transforming Health implementation, and the introduction of the Primary Health Networks across South Australia.The first meeting will be held in mid April.

An Aboriginal Heart and Stroke Plan for South Australia

Building the case and the plan - translation in action

In 2015 SA Health commissioned the Wardliparingga Aboriginal Research Unit at SAHMRI to develop a SA Aboriginal Heart and Stroke Plan which is scheduled to be finalised on June 30 2016. This project, being led by Professor Alex Brown and a small team, aims to guide the re-orientation of services, and service development, by:

  • providing a contemporary picture of the burden of cardiovascular disease
  • identifying strengths and gaps within the health system as it currently provides services, and;
  • developing a state-wide Aboriginal heart and stroke plan

On March 22 over 70 community members, policy makers, service providers, clinicians and non-government organisation representatives came together at SAHMRI to work towards improving the heart and stroke health of Aboriginal people in South Australia.The project is being guided by a very active steering committee that has good representation from service providers, including major hospitals, the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector, other primary care services, and community.

This event was the second Roundtable of the SA Aboriginal Heart and Stroke Plan’s engagement strategy to ensure that the project has widespread support and broad input into the developing strategy. Many steering committee members were in attendance at the roundtable, along with members of our Aboriginal Community Reference Group and those from other organisations.

The second Roundtable of the SA Aboriginal Heart and Stroke Plan’s engagement strategy

Professor Alex Brown was really pleased with the Roundtable.  He said “It gave people the opportunity to review the service gap analysis and contribute to the developing plan”.

He reflected “This is a great translational piece of work, using SAHMRI’s research expertise to work with many groups across the health sector to collect, collate and analyse a range of data around health outcomes and then map it against current services.  We are using best practise evidence to inform the evolving plan, with the intent that services meet essential standards in the future and help improve heart and stroke outcomes for Aboriginal people in SA.”

For further information please contact Wendy Keech, Senior Research Translation Manager Wardliparingga Aboriginal Research Unit, SA Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI)  PH: 08 8128 4228,

SA Aboriginal Heart and Stroke Plan engagement model

The “Beat Bowel Cancer” Project

The “Beat Bowel Cancer Project” is a new initiative being developed under the auspices of the SA Academic Health Science and Translation Centre.

Bowel cancer is the second most common cancer recorded by Australian cancer registries and the second highest cause of cancer death.

Bowel cancer is highly preventable, amenable to population screening and when detected and treated at earlier stages can often be cured. A very large proportion (87%) of the deaths from bowel cancer in South Australia could and should be prevented by applying knowledge we already have. Further progress can be made with scientific advances.

The project has the goal of markedly reducing (eliminating) preventable deaths from colorectal cancer in the South Australian population via:

  • Increasing broader uptake and application of existing evidence
  • Generating new evidence and accelerating translation

Key targets include:

1. Increased participation in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program ((i) FOBT, with (ii) colonoscopy follow-up), in the SA population as a whole, and in sub-groups at special risk.

2. Application of best-evidence in clinical settings for prevention, early detection, and higher risk surveillance, diagnosis and treatment, in accordance with clinical practice guidelines and using optimal care pathways.

3. Quality population-based interventions to reduce lifestyle risk factors.

4. Increased enrolment in clinical trials.

5. Health system modifications to reduce barriers and increase access to high quality and appropriate services.

6. Personalised risk-based interventions.

7. Research to advance knowledge: chemoprevention (calcium, aspirin, NSAIDs); screening and early detection; behaviour change; treatment and management.

The executive group, convened by SAHMRI, under the auspices of the SA Centre includes: Prof David Roder, Mr Nicholas Lee, Ms Tiffany Young, Prof Graeme Young, Prof Ian Olver, Dr Dan Worthley, Prof Steve Wesselingh, A/Prof Caroline Miller, Prof Tim Price, Dr Taryn Bessen, Dr Erin Symonds, Dr Joanne Young

For more information contact: or

Outcomes of Advanced Health Research and Translation Centres Meeting

On 5 November the SA Centre hosted a meeting facilitated by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) with both successful and un-successful applicants for the NHMRC Advanced Health Research and Translation Centres (AHRTC) to explore stakeholder views on the further development of the AHRTC initiative.

This workshop was an important opportunity for the Centres to strategise and discuss issues of importance to all of the Centres. It was agreed that a National Alliance of the Translation Centres should be established. The Centres also discussed the possibility of introducing regional centres into the scheme. While this would result in a different designation for regional centres, it would allow translation to be moved between health and hospital sites in both metropolitan and country areas.

As the Translation Centres are seen to be the key component of the NHMRCs translation strategy, it is hoped that some funding will be made available in the future through the Federal Department of Health, or via the Medical Research Future Fund.

Evaluating the Transforming Health Agenda

A key role of the SA Centre is to support the Transforming Health agenda through the provision of evidence-based and evaluation-oriented strategic advice.

As part of this process the SA Centre in conjunction with SA Health will be conducting a workshop in June to commence the development of a robust evaluation framework for Transforming Health.

Whilst some of the priorities for Transforming Health and the SA Centre differ, there are clear areas of overlap (as illustrated in the diagram below). These will create opportunities to meet the objectives of both Transforming Health and the SA Centre through the development of tangible integrated projects which can be used as a measure of success for both Transforming Health and the SA Centre.

SA Centre Partner Projects

Country SA PHN in translation…

Improving Health Care Access to older Australians’ living in Residential Aged Care Facilities

Access to health care for older Australian’s is a National Primary Health Network (PHN) priority and continues to be an important part of our work flowing on from the previous Medicare Local space.

In 2014 the Silver Connections pilot project was established under the Commonwealth Better Health Care Connections program. The project, which involves four general practices and three residential aged care facilities in the Barossa Valley, has demonstrated that timely consultations between a resident in an aged care facility and GP via video, during or immediately following an illness event reduces the number of avoidable hospitalisations for residents in participating Residential Aged Care Facilities).  GPs have also noted improvement in clinical safety and decision making processes using video consultations as opposed to a phone conversation with the Registered Nurse.

Country SA PHN is now in the process of expanding the Silver Connections project into the 'After Hours' which is defined as: before 8:00am and after 6:00pm weekdays; before 8:00am and after 12:00pm Saturdays; and all day Sundays and public holidays.   At this point in time, the Silver Connections After Hours project will run for approximately 18 months.

While the service design team have been building a strong evaluation process into the Silver Connections After Hours project, including ethics approval, academics / researchers interested in engaging with this project or work in the aged care space relating to country people can contact Ali Krollig via

Improving Health Care Access to older Australians’ living in Residential Aged Care Facilities

Cardiovascular Disease

From the current Country SA PHN Baseline Needs Assessment regional health profiling, we can confirm that Cardiovascular disease (CVD) has a major impact on country people, with markedly increasing higher rates of disease prevalence the further you get from the metropolitan region.

This is not new news but does require action.  Country SA PHN is working with our partners in Country Health SA LHN’s iCCnet unit and the Wardliparingga unit in SAHMRI to improve access to care and appropriate care strategies across the region.

We are also pleased to have accepted a membership to the South Australian Academic Health Science and Translation Centre Cardiac Rehabilitation and Secondary Prevention working group.

SA Centre Contact

For all SA Centre queries please contact:

Iris O’Rourke

Executive Officer

SA Academic Health Science and Translation Centre

P 08 8128 4017


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PO Box 11060
Adelaide SA 5001

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