UNSW awarded NHMRC funding for research into early childhood
The Sector > Research > UNSW awarded NHMRC funding for research into early childhood health

UNSW awarded NHMRC funding for research into early childhood health

by Freya Lucas

September 29, 2023

The University of New South Wales (UNSW) has been awarded $7.5 million in the latest round of National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funding for three Centres of Research Excellence (CRE), one of which focuses on early childhood health.


The funding is part of a $35 million investment in 14 new centres announced by Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, the Hon. Emma McBride MP.


Professor Valsamma Eapen from UNSW Medicine and Health was awarded $2.5 million to lead a centre that will support child and family health for priority populations, including those from regional areas, from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds, Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islanders and the disabled.


The Centre of Research Excellence in Strengths-based Tiered Access to Resources and Supports (STARS-CRE) will address inequity in health and developmental service access for children from priority populations in the first 2,000 days from pregnancy to start of school.


“Currently, there’s a situation in healthcare where people from the most disadvantaged backgrounds, who really need medical attention aren’t getting it. Our centre wants to fix this by changing how we evaluate and provide medical care for children from these vulnerable groups,” said Prof. Eapen.


Some of the initiatives the centre will undertake include introducing treatments that are specifically designed for what each child needs, increasing health and medical research workforce capacity, and using new training approaches such as focusing on positive experiences.


Prof. Eapen said the centre will help children and families by focusing on their strengths and resilience, instead of just their problems and weaknesses.


The new centre is a national collaboration that brings together a national team of clinicians, researchers, and partners from psychiatry, child and family health, psychology, Aboriginal health, paediatrics, social policy, health economics, and population health.


UNSW Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research and Enterprise, Prof. Nicholas Fisk congratulated the lead researchers on being awarded these prestigious centres.


“UNSW is extremely proud of Virginia, Valsamma, Jill and their teams for securing funding to establish three new Centres of Research Excellence. This reflects the outstanding translational research they lead in the areas of infectious disease, child and family health, and depression,” said Prof. Fisk.

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