Pulses and legumes contain about twice the protein found in whole grain cereals and have been shown to reduce the incidence of cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Australia produces around 2.25 million tonnes of pulses annually. However, changes in the production environment such as climate, new pests, water shortages and higher farming costs requires pulse breeders to have better strategies to ensure crops can adapt to changing conditions. Dr Janine Croser and her team at UWA have developed the aSSD platform. The platform speeds the development of pure lines for plant breeders; with improved crop quality, predictability and resilience of offspring in harsh climate conditions for farmers as well as better quality food for consumers.
Most musicians ensure their musical instrument is kept in perfect condition, but do not look after their own physical and mental performance health in the same way. Sound Performers has been developed by an interdisciplinary team led by Suzanne Wijsman at The University of Western Australia and Bronwen Ackermann at the University of Sydney. Sound Performers is a globally accessible online tool to help teachers educate musicians at all stages about their occupational health, and optimise their performance through healthy practice.
Research into breast anatomy and physiology and human milk biochemistry at The University of Western Australia (UWA) has led to partnerships with Medela AG (Medela) resulting in innovative solutions for mothers and babies. Calmita® is an infant teat for preterm infants with an integrated vacuum-controlled valve. Calmita increases breastfeeding in preterm infants and reduces length of stay in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). UWA research led to the development of Medela’s breast pump: the Symphony. From 2011-2016 Medela extended that technology into four breast pumps designed for home use: offering solutions to mothers who are returning to work but wish to maintain lactation. UWA research is frequently used in Medela consumer outreach which relies on UWA’s basic research.
UWA’s sustained research program into molecular genetics and the identification of molecular markers in canola crossbreeding has led to the development and release of 50 new improved canola varieties since 2004, with higher yield, disease resistance, and herbicide tolerance for weed control, thereby improving the long-term sustainability of Australian cropping systems. These canola varieties which have been adopted by farmers because of their higher yield and disease resistance, allow more sustainable crop rotations and improved farm profits. Significant economic benefits have also been delivered to seed production and distribution companies. New breeding methods have the potential to improve crop adaptation to climate change.
The Investment Framework for Environmental Resources (INFFER) is a set of tools and frameworks that has redirected investments worth tens of millions of dollars by methodically demonstrating the value for money, or lack of it, in environmental project options. Since 2011, 20 of Australia’s 56 regional environmental management bodies have undertaken training in INFFER and are now using it to develop, evaluate and prioritise environmental projects. INFFER helps managers assess and rank environmental and natural resource projects and provides a framework for economic thinking in the decision processes. Impacts have been seen in greater environmental benefits through better design and prioritisation of environmental projects in publicly funded programs.
A team of researchers at the Psychology of Active Healthy Living group at The University of Western Australia have dedicated their research to understanding the power of others in shaping healthy behaviours. Their community-based programs including Mummy Buddy and MAN v FAT Soccer have shown that the presence of a strong support network can have positive effects on a person’s general health and mental well-being.
Sleep is one of the pillars of health. However, sleep disturbances can be a common symptom in Parkinson’s, affecting up to 98% of patients.
From their studies, and from what is known about how the brain works, Dr Maria Pushpanathan, UWA School of Psychological Science and her colleagues have shown that there are relationships between sleep and daytime function. By improving sleep symptoms, potentially, the progression of Parkinson’s may slow and, subsequently, the quality of life may improve. Translating this new knowledge could also have major clinical implications for the treatment of problematic sleep issues in people with Parkinson’s.
Art is supposed to do the avant-garde, be radical and ask the deepest questions about life and about the position of the human in this world. For almost 20 years, UWA’s SymbioticA has been interested in the growing gap between our cultural understanding of life and what we know about life through science. But more importantly, what we choose to do to life through technology. Through their exhibitions and research the group has developed new technologies, influenced policymaking and articulated cultural ideas around scientific knowledge in the pursuit of critiquing the ethical and cultural issues of the manipulation of life.
As a PhD student, Daniel Green had a keen interest in finding new ways to help sporting people get better at what they do. However, it wasn’t long before he realised that many of the techniques he used to measure human fitness and function could be applied to people at the other end of the health spectrum; patients with heart disease and end-stage heart failure. In subsequent years, Prof Green developed a team at UWA that has had profound impacts on establishing exercise science a recognised allied health profession, leading worldwide agendas to optimise the way that patients are clinically managed using exercise and establishing a better understanding of how exercise exerts its benefits on the heart and arteries.
Using ultrasound, Dr Donna Geddes, Senior Research Fellow at the School of Molecular Sciences, UWA is producing new knowledge on human lactation. Innovative products which, have been developed as a result of her research, have already empowered mothers as well as clinicians with tools to provide babies more breast milk and enhance breastfeeding and ultimately improving the long term health of babies worldwide.