New Curtin-led research aims to reduce stillbirth among Aboriginal families

Researchers will carry out the first large-scale examination of stillbirths among Aboriginal families as part of a new Curtin-led project that has been supported by the Federal Government today.

The research project, led by Associate Professor Carrington Shepherd from the Curtin Medical School, will work in partnership with Aboriginal Elders, communities and service providers.

Federal Minister for Health, the Hon Greg Hunt, today announced the successful recipients of the National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) Ideas Grants.

Curtin Medical School Dean Professor Sandra Eades, who is also working on the project, said the research was designed to offer new insights to help reduce the number of Aboriginal stillbirths.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are two to three times more likely to experience the heartbreak of a stillbirth than non-Indigenous women in Australia,” Professor Eades said.

“By working with Aboriginal Elders, communities and the relevant service providers, this research will undertake the first large-scale examination of stillbirths among Aboriginal families with the ultimate aim of helping to reduce these devastating outcomes.”

Associate Professor Shepherd said the project aimed to enhance our understanding of the risks of Aboriginal stillbirth and develop Aboriginal-specific intervention strategies to support stillbirth education and awareness.

“The project will generate critical new knowledge to help prevent a significant number of Aboriginal stillbirths including culturally effective health promotion and education interventions,” Associate Professor Shepherd said.

“While the work will primarily engage with, and focus on, communities on Noongar Boodja (south-west of Western Australia), the findings and outcomes have the potential to help Aboriginal families across Western Australia and nationally.”

The project also includes Professor Rhonda Marriott from the Ngangk Yira Research Centre at Murdoch University and Aunty Millie Penny as the lead Aboriginal Elder, as well as other researchers from Curtin University, the Telethon Kids Institute, the Centre of Research Excellence in Stillbirth at the Mater Research Institute, Still Aware and the Department of Health.

Another Curtin-led project funded as part of today’s NHMRC Ideas Grants will investigate a new immunotherapy treatment for the most common type of primary liver cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma.

That project, led by Dr Ankur Sharma from the Curtin Medical School and the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, will identify which patients will benefit from the new treatment because it does not currently work for all patients.

In Australia, about 1800 people die from hepatocellular carcinoma each year.

The NHMRC Ideas Grants support innovative and creative research in the health and medical fields from discovery to implementation.

For more information about the NHMRC Ideas Grants, visit here.

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