Investigators’ Forum and the future of chronic disease prevention
Four projects having impact, a new collaboration, and the next phase of the Prevention Centre
The Prevention Centre held its second Investigators’ Forum for 2020 on 7 September, when 70 members of our network gathered online.
The Investigator Forums are an opportunity for updates from our Co-Directors, for our community to learn more about the progress and outcomes of our projects and their impact in policy and practice, and allow scope for our investigators to network and build potential for collaboration.
Our Co-Directors, Professor Lucie Rychetnik and Professor Andrew Wilson advised that all Medical Research Future Fund projects have been granted an extension to their completion dates, in recognition of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on our research projects.
“We are well aware of the impact of the pandemic on our investigators, and our policy partners – particularly those in the health sector – and the university sector. It has been a tough time for many of us but these opportunities for connection are valuable.
“The success of the Investigator Forums shows how much the Prevention Centre’s network values engagement and connection. As well as learning about individual projects, we are facilitating potential connections between projects,” said Professor Lucie Rychetnik.
Updates on four Prevention Centre projects currently underway were presented by our investigators:
- Simon Chiu and Dr Louise Freebairn presented National decision support tool for childhood obesity prevention, an update on the project Harnessing big data and dynamic simulation modelling to tackle child and adolescent overweight and obesity and unsustainable healthcare expenditure in Australia
- Associate Professor Gary Sacks presented Creating healthier supermarket environments, an update on the project he leads, Diet and chronic disease prevention: supporting implementation of priority actions in the food and nutrition system, and the impact of a recent report
- Adjunct Professor William Bellew and Tracy Nau presented Getting Australia Active and the implications for public health law and physical activity an update on project, Harnessing the power of physical activity for improving the prevention system: Australian systems approaches to physical activity (the ASAPs project), and the impact of a recent report
- Dr Simone De Morgan and Professor Fiona Blyth presented Working with Primary Health Networks on preventing and managing chronic pain an update on their project, Preventing and managing chronic pain in primary care, due for completion in December 2020.
“The ‘co-benefits’ of collaboration is increasingly important and we are, more and more, looking for opportunities to connect research teams, funding partners, and policy partners,” said Professor Rychetnik.
The Co-Directors announced the newly established Collaboration for Enhanced Research Impact (CERI), a partnership between four NHMRC Centres of Research Excellence and the Prevention Centre.
“CERI will enhance the profile and impact of chronic disease prevention in Australia, bringing together leading prevention researchers to develop shared narratives, translate new knowledge, and support early- to mid-career researchers. This is really a pilot, and calls on the convening power of the Prevention Centre to generate new cross-centre collaborations,” said Professor Rychetnik.
The strategic approach to the next phase of the Prevention Centre and our program of research is currently underway.
“The Prevention Centre is currently exploring the ‘next generation’ of prevention research by developing our agenda for our next phase.
“We’ve published a number of pieces recently reflecting that focus, including a recent article in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, What does the future holds for chronic disease prevention research?,” said Professor Rychetnik.
“With around 40,000 publications around coronavirus to date, we’re seeing an interesting demonstration of public health in Australia and the way that we’ve been able to respond. It’s a fascinating reminder of the inter-connectedness of public health in both communicable and non-communicable diseases,” said Professor Wilson.
“The issues around equity have clearly played out and from this will come, I believe, a new generation and of researchers and opportunities for prevention research in Australia as the community understands the necessity for public health professionals to have the evidence-based research and capacity to respond,” he said.
Story by Helen Loughlin, Senior Communications Officer