Respiratory Research


The Paediatric Respiratory and Sleep Department aims to improve the quality of care for children by being actively involved in a ‘bench to bedside' approach to translational research. This research is achieved by teamwork between clinician-scientists and scientists working together. The focus of research in the respiratory department is to bring scientific discoveries ‘at the bench' to achieve practical applications to help patients ‘at the bedside'.

Our research projects range from large collaborative projects conducted at a national level to innovative locally developed projects. All research is conducted following approval from the Hunter New England Local Health District Ethics Committee.

All members of the department are committed to research and development. The following outlines some of the past and present research projects in which we have been involved:

  • Pulmonary function in infants with chronic lung disease
  • Nebulised hypertonic saline in cystic fibrosis patients
  • Pulmonary function in cystic fibrosis patients colonised with Burkholderia cepacia
  • Montelukast (Singulair) in childhood asthma
  • DNAse (Pulmozyme) in children with cystic fibrosis
  • Viral infections in asthma
  • Viral infections in patients with cystic fibrosis
  • Australian cystic fibrosis bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) study
  • Airway inflammation in chronic asthma
  • Infant lung function studies
  • Asthma and obesity study

Clonal pseudomonas in CF patients study

This involves screening children with cystic fibrosis for specific (clonal) strains of the organism Pseudomonas Aerugionsa which may be associated with more significant lung disease.

Empyema Study

This is a collaborative study investigating surgical and medical treatments used for paediatric emypyema. It also aims to look at the spectrum of causative bacteria currently affecting children across Australia.

Sleep disorders in children with cleft palate

This is an ongoing project assessing sleep disordered breathing in children with cleft palate - both before and after palate repair.    Many affected children have been noted to have breathing problems during sleep and as a result surgery may be delayed. 

CF IDEA (CF related diabetes study)

This study will assess the effect of early intervention with Insulin therapy in children with cystic fibrosis who have impaired glucose tolerance ie pre overt diabetes.

NSW Infant lung function CEntre (NICE)

To better understand the origins of asthma and other chronic lung diseases in early life, we have established NICE, which is the only Centre of its kind in NSW. At NICE, we comprehensively measure how obstructed the airways are and how well the lungs are grown in babies and infants younger than 3 years. In conjunction with assessing the child's health, testing for allergies, and collecting airway cell samples from the nose, we can identify novel molecules that are associated with the onset of asthma-like symptoms and lung function abnormalities in early life.  The study is approved by the Hunter New England Human Research Ethics Committee and is funded by Hunter Children's Research Foundation and the National Health and Medical Research Institute. 

The Growing Into Asthma (GIA) study

In collaboration with Prof Peter Gibson and Dr Vanessa Murphy from the Adult Respiratory Department, John Hunter Hospital, we are currently following up a large cohort of babies born to mothers with and without asthma during pregnancy. This will allow us to determine whether good asthma control during pregnancy will impact upon the baby's health in the first year of life.  

This work is approved by the Hunter New England Human Research Ethics Committee) and funded by the Hunter Medical Research Institute and National Health and Medical Research Institute.

Experimental models of virus infections and asthma

To find better treatments for asthma and virus infections, we employ experimental animal models that allow us to trial novel therapeutic strategies. All studies are approved by the University of Newcastle Animal Care and Ethics Committee. We translate our findings towards clinical applications in collaboration with for example the pharmaceutical industry. The work is funded by the National Health and Medical Research Institute and the Cooperative Research Centres for Asthma and Airways.

High-flow Warmed Humidified Oxygen (HFWHO) Randomised Control Trial

HFWHO Protocol Trial