UOW Professor wins grant to learn about how phones affect child brain development

by Freya Lucas

December 10

Professor Chao Deng and Senior Professor Rodney Croft from the University of Wollongong (UOW) have been awarded over $1 million in grant funding so they can learn more about how environmental exposure to radiofrequency energy, such as used in mobile phones, affects the critical period of brain development in early childhood and adolescence. 

 

Their study is one of four UOW projects which were recently announced as having been successful in gaining a combined $3.3 million in health and medical grants under a new scheme to support innovative research.

 

The newly established National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Ideas Grant scheme was announced by Federal Minister for Health, the Hon Greg Hunt MP on Saturday 7 December.

 

Professor Deng and Senior Professor Croft will use the funding to explore the impact of children and adolescents being exposed to radiofrequency electromagnetic energy, seeking to learn more about how these devices impact on brain development and behaviours.

 

“Childhood and adolescence are a critical period of brain development that could be sensitive to environmental exposure, including to radiofrequency electromagnetic energy (RF-EME),” Professor Deng said.

 

Given the large increase in new RF-EMF technologies in today’s society, the Professor noted “It is crucial to better understand the effects of RF-EMF on brain development and behaviour.” 

 

The study is timely given current community concern about the roll-out of 5G technologies from 2020, he added. 

 

The project will provide critical evidence to inform guidelines and public health policies in Australia and worldwide, and contribute to the development of safety standards for wireless products.

 

UOW Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) Professor Jennifer Martin AC welcomed the new funding scheme and congratulated the successful researchers.

 

“I am delighted by the 2020 NHMRC Ideas announcement. This new NHMRC funding scheme supports innovative and creative research, something the University of Wollongong is renowned for.

 

“I congratulate the awardees, and wish them well in achieving their health and medical research goals through this new opportunity.”

 

More information about the work of Professor Deng and Senior Professor Croft is available on the UOW website, here

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