Murdoch Children’s Research Institute Professor Harriet Hiscock and The Centre for Community Child Health team have been named in the thirteenth edition of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) ‘10 of the Best’ Research Projects.

The NHMRC’s 10 of the Best award showcases the most significant Australian research projects of the previous year. These 10 projects have supported the improvement of human health and exemplify hundreds of the most successful, industry-leading projects of 2022.

Professor Hiscock’s cited research focused on improving sleep and behaviour for children with autism and ADHD diagnoses. Through this and her previous work, Professor Hiscock has helped shape care for children in Australia and globally.

Her showcased research was supported by an NHMRC Career Development Fellowship between 2014-2017. This support gave Professor Hiscock the resources required to conduct vital research to improve the sleep of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism.

Professor Hiscock and The Centre for Community Child Health developed and trialled brief, tailored interventions to improve sleep and therefore the behaviour and emotional symptoms of children with ADHD and autism.

This research led to trials of brief, personalised sleep support for children with mental health problems by paediatricians and psychologists. Each child had two face-to-face consultations with a clinician and a follow-up phone call which led to parents reporting improvements in their child’s sleep and better mental health outcomes for their families.  

This hugely successful trial was a great experience for children and resulted in positive sleep outcomes without the use of medication. 

Professor Hiscock said to the NHMRC that, “as a practitioner, you can help one person at a time, one child, one family. But when you do trials, you are helping hundreds of kids at a time.”

Professor Hiscock is now looking towards making changes to the health system as a whole by using health services research to help thousands of children and families at a time.

Professor Hiscock has committed herself to helping every child and family, in addition to children from priority populations. Professor Hiscock and Murdoch Children’s have also developed Sleep with Kip, an innovative and fun interactive series that includes books, podcasts and more. Each book in the series focuses on one evidence-based intervention from her sleep trials and is designed to help children and parents set up good sleep habits and manage existing behavioural sleep problems. Sleep with Kip is supported by 20 years of clinical sleep research to support families at bedtime.

Each year, the NHMRC funds research that has huge potential health benefits. All NHMRC-funded research is tackling the health challenges people face directly after birth, all the way up to old age.

Read Professor Harriet’s research in the NHMRC 10 of the Best – Thirteenth Edition.

Listen to a podcast with Professor Hiscock on sleeping with autism and ADHD.