Allergy/Immunology Research


The focus of research in the Paediatric Allergy and Immunology Department is to improve understanding in the mechanisms of autoimmune and allergic diseases. Research aims to produce a better understanding of mechanisms that will lead to improved diagnosis and treatment of these diseases.

All research in our department is undertaken after approval from the Hunter New England Local Health District Ethics Committee.

During a patient's initial assessment at John Hunter Children's Hospitals outpatients clinic, a patient may be asked to participate in current research studies if found to be eligible. Parents have the choice to agree or decline. If a patient declines, it will not affect your treatment by our services in any way.


Current Allergy/Immunology Research


Precautionary Allergen Labelling Awareness in a TErtiary paediatric centre (‘PALATE’ study)

Precautionary labelling of food products, such as “may contain trace of…”, is a topical subject in immunology and allergy at present. There is no universal standardised correlation between the statement on the product label, and the amount of allergen in a product. This may put an individual with food allergy at risk, through both unknown amount of allergen and behaviours around access and use of these products.

The ‘PALATE’ study is a single-centre study proposed to run at John Hunter Children’s Hospital between January and July in 2016. It is organised by paediatric registrar Christopher Vedeler and supervised by paediatric immunologist Dr Rani Bhatia, in collaboration with the paediatric immunology team. 

The study will investigate the awareness of precautionary allergen labelling and the impact it has on the quality of life in families with children with food allergies. Parents and carers who attend with their child for the child's appointment in the Allergy clinics in the paediatric outpatients department will be provided with an information sheet provided to all of Dr Bhatia's patients on arrival to the clinic. The subsequent survey is an electronic survey on iPads provided by  the immunology team to parents and carers while waiting for their child's appointment. The goal is to include at least 250 subjects between January and July, and report and publish the findings.

Longitudinal Health Review of Paediatric Patients with Juvenile Dermatomyositis via Nailfold Capillaroscopy Appearances (PINCA Review)

The purpose of the study is to review the differences in nail appearance in people that have the illness juvenile dermatomyositis and participated in a similar study in 2008 called PINCA. The study hopes to see changes in the nail vessel appearance by comparing the 2008 pictures of the nails to new pictures in 2011. It is thought that by looking at the nail patterns we can see how the treatments for Juvenile Dermatomyositis may have helped in relieving some of the symptoms over time. This study will help our understanding of this illness and improve the way we look after patients.