Health Impacts Research Centre

Welcome to the Health Impacts Research Centre

We would like to express our deep gratitude to our colleagues who are working so hard delivering care to our community. Our thoughts are with those vulnerable in our community and all who are struggling to do their best during these uncertain days. After such a traumatic summer and the devastating impact of the fires, HIRC members acknowledge the extra burden of COVID-19 on the Illawarra-Shoalhaven district and we will aim to work towards new solutions for current challenges with kindness, compassion, ingenuity and creativity. We will endeavour to reach out with support and information relevant to our region as the situation progresses.


The vision of the Health Impacts Research Centre (HIRC) is to improve the health of whole communities by conducting research that informs and transforms clinical practice and health policy.

HIRC create synergies between health researchers from the SMAH Faculty and includes existing groupings such as the Smart Foods Centre researchers, and the Illawarra and Southern Practice Research Network (ISPRN). Our values are innovation, collaboration, inclusiveness, integrity and accountability.

In 2017 HIRC members produced a collaborative research document to drive future developments, outlined in the summary report.

HIRC aims to:

  • Encourage innovation and self-sustaining research collaboration by investing in a HIRC collaborative project. This is a transdisciplinary program targeting the high prevalence of chronic kidney disease in the Illawarra Shoalhaven region.
  • Build capacity amongst its researchers by supporting small projects and related publications and conference presentations,
  • Enhance research quality through enhancements in training, workshops and seminars with external facilitators and collaborators.

Why purple food is better for your brain

Imagine being able to prevent memory loss through diet, through everyday purple-coloured foods you can buy at the supermarket. Professor Karen Charlton believes this prospect isn’t as far-fetched as it may sound.

The connection between memory loss and purple food

HIRC Grants 2019

Round 1, July 2019

SYMBIOTiC StudySYMptom, microBIOme and dieT in Chronic Kidney Disease. $10,000.

Dr Anita Stefoska-Needham (SOM), Dr Kelly Lambert (SOM), Prof Karen Charlton (SOM), Dr Maria Chan (St George Hospital), Jordan Stanford (PhD Candidate, SOM).

A randomised controlled crossover trial to test the impact and efficacy of a novel dietary intervention, high in plant foods, on symptom burden, quality of life (QOL), gut microbiome profile and biochemical parameters in a sample of non-dialysed adults with Chronic Kidney Disease.


Is Post-Meal Walking (PMW) a Potential Therapy to Prevent Gestational Diabetes (GDM) in Women at High Risk? $5,000

Dr Monique Francois (SOM), Dr Elizabeth Neale (SOM), Dr Danielle Schoenaker (SOM).

A randomize controlled trial to determine whether advice to perform PMW in women with at least one risk factor for GDM can improve glucose tolerance in pregnancy and prevent the development of GDM, compared to standard-care advice.


Systematic review and meta-analyses of postoperative delirium (POD): understanding POD incidence, & the diagnostic accuracy of delirium assessment tools used in the anaesthetic recovery unit. $5,000

Dr Jessica Nealon (SOM), Janine Masso (SON), Dr Mu-Hsing Ho (PhD candidate SON), Assistant Prof Kee-Hsin Chen (Taipei Medical University), Dr Rita Chang (SON), Prof Victoria Traynor (SON).

This project aims to perform two systematic reviews & meta-analyses to determine:

(1) an accurate incidence rate of POD; and

(2) the diagnostic accuracy of delirium assessment tools used in anaesthetic recovery.


Indigenous Health Grant

Stronger culture, healthy lifestyles: feasibility of an afterschool cultural activity program for Aboriginal children living in the Illawarra region. $10,000.

Dr Yasmine Probst (SOM, Dr Rebecca Stanley (Early Start), Anthony McKnight (School of Education).

This study aims to expand on a pilot study conducted in the Shoalhaven region and evaluate the feasibility, acceptability and potential efficacy of an afterschool cultural program in promoting cultural connectedness, positive healthy behaviours and educational outcomes among Aboriginal children aged 5-12 years living in the Illawarra region of NSW.


Round 2, October 2019

How does pain impact the life of people with severe kidney failure? $10,000

Dr Kelly Lambert (SOM), Narelle Ilic (ISLHD), Jenny Chen (ISLHD), Holly Mitchell (ISLHD). 

The aim of this project is to explore the lived experience of pain in older people with ESKD from the patient and carer perspective. Of particular interest, is the way pain may impact on socialisation, quality of life, medication and dietary self-management.


Project DARE: validating the curriculum. $5,000

Dr Pippa Burns (SOM), Dr Michelle Eady (School of Education), Dr (School of the Arts, English and Media), Prof Victoria Traynor (SON).

Project DARE (Dementia knowledge, Art, Research and Education) is an educational program for Stage 2 children (ages 8-11 years).This study will further extend the findings from a feasibility pilot study by:

1. Engaging with individuals living with dementia and their carers to obtain feedback on the multidimensional lesson plans, including the art-based activities.

2. Amending the lesson plans to reflect the views of more diverse schools and individuals living with dementia.

3. Undertaking a systematic review of the literature to identify international dementia education programs targeted at children.


Understanding feeding challenges & the feeding behaviours assessment tools for persons with dementia (PWD) in long-term facilities. $2,500

Dr Hui Chen (Rita) Chang (SON), Prof Victoria Traynor (SON), Michelle Mason (ISLHD), Liliana Baronne (ISLHD).

To conduct a systematic literature review to identify available, validated feeding behaviour assessment tools for PWD, and determine an accurate measurement tool for use in intervention studies in healthcare settings.

Contact Health Impacts Research Centre