GSH’s research “Above world standard” in latest ERA results
The Excellence in Research for Australia 2018 results have been released. In addition to bringing on a suite of successful new graduate-entry clinical training courses, the Graduate School of Health is fast becoming established as a major research School in Allied Health.
The 2018 Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) results released this week have confirmed the Graduate School of Health’s (GSH) research quality across Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Psychology. Both disciplines received a ranking of 4, indicating their respective research quality was ’Above World Standard’. Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences have maintained their impressive rank since 2015; Psychology, being new to UTS, was being evaluated for the first time.
The Graduate School of Health’s Director of Research, Associate Professor Toby Newton-John, says this is a fantastic result.
“The School’s research helps to improve patients’ lives – from preventing medication errors in nursing homes to robotics-assisted rehabilitation after a stroke, and the effective treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
We are very much focused on innovative, translational research, and the ERA ratings are a strong endorsement of the quality of our research. Associate Professor Toby Newton-John
“We are very much focused on innovative, translational research, and the ERA ratings are a strong endorsement of the quality of our research.”
The ERA evaluation framework is an Australian Government-led initiative that identifies and promotes excellence across the full spectrum of research activity in higher education institutions.
The Graduate School of Health’s Head, Professor Joanne Gray, welcomed the report’s findings noting that “the results are outstanding, and a true testament to the School’s dedication and efforts in the health sector.”
The results are outstanding, and a true testament to the School’s dedication and efforts in the health sector. Professor Joanne Gray
Conducted every three years, ERA compares the research quality of 39 Australian universities in different research areas against the rest of the world. Researchers both nationally and internationally use this rank as a benchmark, indicating an institution’s quality of research.
University-wide, 72 per cent of UTS research was rated in the two highest bands. UTS Vice-Chancellor Professor Attila Brungs says, “Through investment and partnering UTS has increased our research outputs by a massive 50 per cent since the 2015 assessment, while significantly improving the quality of our research, such that all broad fields of research are now rated at or above world standard.”
World-standard research is rated at level 3. Research above world standard is rated at band 4, and research well above world standard at band 5.
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Broadly speaking, my research is about pharmacy education and interprofessional collaboration. I test strategies that enable students to derive to better clinical decisions through reflective practices. I certainly hope that this type of research enables students to be better practitioners, making better decisions for better clinical outcomes for the patients.
I use a number of different strategies, so the RACA, the Reflective Ability Clinical Assessment, but I also use the RIPE Model, which is the Reflective Interprofessional Education Model, and we use the medium and high fidelity mannequins and simulation in standardized patients. We've been putting this research into practice, we've published around this model of learning, and recently we actually received a university award for this model of learning, too.
My research is focused on the integration of pharmacists in general practice, which means when you go in to see your doctor, there's not only a nurse or a physio that you can see within the practice, but also a pharmacist. Pharmacists are really enjoying working within the general practice. It gives them a chance to use their skills and really show other healthcare professionals what they can do. The GPs have also loved having someone there to support them in helping patients understand their medications. I really hope that our research shows that having a pharmacist involved in a general practice team stops patients going to hospital because of drug related problems, helps them get the most out of their medicines, and really helps them control their disease states.
My research is on chronic airway inflammations as presented in asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cystic fibrosis. There is currently no cure for these diseases and current anti-inflammatory formulations are insufficient.
We are currently working on a pre-clinical validation of a novel anti-inflammatory platform that we've developed. We can load it with different therapeutics, and these therapeutics are going to induce cells' own recycling mechanism to target inflammation. This is a paradigm shift. No other therapeutic on the market has taken this approach to resolve inflammation.
In patients with lung diseases like asthma and cystic fibrosis, when the patients gets to a stage that they become refractive and they do not respond to current corticosteroid therapies, then this new treatment would be another option that helps their body's own mechanism, recycling mechanism, to fight the inflammation and clear the inflammation.
My research is looking at the safety and the quality of the way medicines are used in hospitals and nursing homes. I get medicine supply data from a pharmacy or an industry partner that has worked with nursing homes, and by looking at what's happening in the real world, we're able to identify problems, start to think about solutions, and change the way that medicines are used in facilities and in hospitals.
I'm passionate about my research because I'm a pharmacist, and I started my life in the hospital setting where my specialty area was medicines used in older people. So it made sense for me, when I moved across to research, to bring that clinical knowledge and that background with me, that I'd been working one-on-one with older people and their medicines, and so it was just a natural progression to look at how we could improve things at that population level.
My research is interested in microvesicles. Microvesicles are small bubbles that are released from the surface of all cell types. In cancer, these microvesicles or bubbles pass messages that increase drug resistance, increase metastatic capacity. So basically, these microvesicles are causing the progression of cancer.
Multidrug resistance is a huge problem in cancer. We get clinical relapse of patients when they're treated with a chemotherapeutic agent, and we believe this is because of microvesicle signals, so in the end, we hope to come up with novel therapeutics that target these vesicles to stop the progression, stop multidrug resistance, and improve patient outcomes.