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True to our vision: our journey 2020 to 2021

True to our vision: our journey 2020 to 2021

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Our latest Biennial Report tracks our progress from 2020 to 2021, through the tough times of the COVID-19 pandemic. How did we do?

The pandemic paused most active research studies. Our research groups focused on other activities, and we learned to adapt to online and telehealth initiatives to continue our work with patients, colleagues and networks in Australia and overseas.

"Through this terrible time the Woolcock was able to remain true to its vision. Our research work has hardly missed a beat and our work has proven important in combating the scourge of COVID." Robert Estcourt, AM, Chairman

Our recent achievements and impact speak for themselves. Our Biennial Report documents our successes, including:

  • Our Respiratory and Environmental Epidemiology Group investigated the health effects of infrasound generated from wind turbines (“wind farms”), results of which will be used by policymakers to inform public health and manage future growth of this clean energy source.
  • Our Respiratory Cellular and Molecular Biology Group improved the understanding of why respiratory viral infections, including SARS-CoV-2 (COVID), can lead to the development of lung diseases, and why the same infections can cause lung diseases such as asthma to exacerbate.
  • Our Clinical Management Group created gold standards for inhaler use in the management of asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and allergic rhinitis, which are now embedded within disease management guidelines around the world.
  • The Woolcock Centre for Lung Cancer Research, together with the Lung Cancer Research Network, developed biomarker testing for predicting patient response to cancer therapy.
  • Our Respiratory Technology Group translated research discoveries into a clinic setting in the form of better drug treatments and devices.
  • The Woolcock Emphysema Centre – Australia’s only research centre dedicated to the fight against COPD – continued to ensure that the most recent discoveries move seamlessly from the laboratory to the clinic to enable our patients get leading-edge treatment and care.
  • Our Sleep and Circadian Research Group continued to test new treatments and strategies for sleep health. It has also contributed world-leading expertise to a growing interest in narcolepsy and the role of sleep in dementia.
  • Woolcock Vietnam conducted major trials involving more than 100,000 people that increased the detection of tuberculosis, which in turn led to a dramatically reduced disease prevalence and resulted in new World Health Organisation screening guidelines. This has led to a major reduction in tuberculosis in children.
  • Our Airway Physiology and Imaging Group pioneered the use of telemonitoring technology to monitor lung function in asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in Australia. This strategy is now being tested for implementation worldwide.
  • Finally, in 2021 we also marked our 40th anniversary. Since our inception in 1981, our researchers have published more than 6,000 papers, we have been ranked as the leading specialist sleep and respiratory medical research institute in the world and we have developed a reputation for mentoring young researchers and providing world-class clinical care for our patients.

Read the full report

    Support our work

    As our Chairman Robert Estcourt AM says in the Biennial Report, "we have finished the two years in better financial shape than we have ever been. [However], despite being a globally recognised Medical Research Institute, we are underfunded and lead a hand-to-mouth existence. We must find new sources of financial support."

    If you'd like to support our world-leading research, and be part of our continued journey, please donate to the Woolcock today.

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