The Woolcock Institute of Medical Research

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Professor Brian Oliver: Stating the facts and posing the question: Could this be our new norm?

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Professor Brian Oliver of the University of Technology and the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research is an expert in understanding the mechanisms leading to respiratory disease exacerbations and progress. Earlier this year, Professor Oliver shared his thoughts on why the recent bushfire crisis has such potential long-term effects and how we can start to address it. In an interview with the ABC 730 report, Professor Oliver highlighted that in terms of any long-term health effects of the bushfire, we will probably need to wait maybe up to 10-20 years before we will know the full extent. Professor Oliver knows about the concept of long-term consequences of health-modifying factors and has answered many questions about the ‘damage’ done to cells in the body as a result of exposure to different environments, genetics etc. “The people that I'm most concerned about are children because children will have a long time to have lots of exposure year in, year out to develop those chronic consequences of bad air pollution”, Professor Oliver stated. “If this year’s bushfire season becomes the new norm, and we are exposed to this every year, then the likely health effects are going to be really measurable... We're going to see much bigger impacts and probably see them sooner.” 

Professor Oliver is currently seeking funding for a project to determine the impact of exposure to air pollution, including bushfire smoke at the start, middle or end of pregnancy on the later development of respiratory, neurological, and renal diseases in offspring.

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