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Projects

Research project
Program leader: Ken Pang Referrals of young transgender individuals to clinical services are rising exponentially across the western world. Consistent with this, recent population-based estimates suggest that the prevalence of young people identifying as transgender is around 1%, which is much higher than previously thought. Providing optimal clinical care for transgender young people is critical. A recent community-based survey of 859 Australian trans youth found a significant proportion had been diagnosed with depression (75%) and anxiety (72%), with 80% of respondents reported having self-harmed and 48% having attempted suicide (Strauss et al, 2017). Many of these young people lacked access to gender-affirming health care, and there is increasing evidence that providing supportive clinical care to transgender youth significantly improves mental health and wellbeing. The Royal Children’s Hospital Gender Service (RCHGS) provides care to transgender children and adolescents, and is one of the largest multidisciplinary clinics of its kind in the ...
Research project
Program leader: Frank Muscara Overview of team Global demand for accessible, evidence-based and cost-effective healthcare is rising. Advances in technology together with its increasing use and declining costs have opened up valuable opportunities for its application in healthcare. The Digital Health team is focused on identifying new ideas and approaches to the incorporation of technology in the paediatric health setting, and aims to develop and evaluate digital health solutions, that can be implemented into clinical care at the Royal Children’s Hospital. Overview of individual projects that are currently/actively being worked on within the team Banksia App study Safety plans are an important intervention to mitigate suicide risk and self-harm. When patients are treated within the inpatient mental health ward, safety plans are completed on paper. Patients may keep the paper based safety plan visible in a specific location, hide it or lose it. This may result in the plan not ...
Research project
Program leader: Jonathan Payne Overview The vision of the Genetics and Neurodevelopment team is to better understand the developmental neuroscience and abnormal psychology of genetic conditions that cause common neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Rather than researching these neurodevelopmental disorders in the general population, in which the cause of the condition is unknown, our research examines the mechanisms underlying neurodevelopmental pathology in the context of a single gene mutation where the cause is known. Our research program integrates four main goals: (1) characterising symptoms and clinical outcomes (2) identifying novel neuroimaging markers (3) disease modelling using state-of-the-art laboratory protocols and (4) translating findings into disease-directed clinical trials. Characterising the neurodevelopmental profile of children with a single gene mutation will further our understanding of the difficulties and outcomes experienced as part of these conditions. Our research will have significant implications for developing ...
Research project
Program Leader: Associate Professor Brigid Jordan BSW PhD Research in our team is focused on understanding the relationship between early life stress – as a result of serious illness and hospital experience or significant family stress and social disadvantage – and the health and mental health of infants and young children and their families. Our research has a strong focus on clinical and translational outcomes in paediatric social work and infant mental health. Research Project 1: Changing the Trajectories of Australia's Most Vulnerable Children - The Early Years Education Program Randomised Controlled Trial Click here or visit eyerp.org for more information. Project 2: Infant and Family Wellbeing after Cardiac Surgery: Life as a Pre-schooler The aim of this project is to investigate the developmental trajectory and predictors of emotional and behavioural regulation in children who had cardiac surgery early in life. This is a longitudinal, prospective cohort study of a ...
Research project
Program leader: Louise Crowe, PhD A developmental insult is when normal brain development is interrupted. This could occur through an injury such as a traumatic brain injury or stroke, or could be due to other causes such as epilepsy, exposure to medication prenatally or a genetic disorder. Early childhood is a time of intense brain and skill development. If brain development is interrupted it can have a long-term impact on function, with young children often particularly vulnerable to poor outcome. The research in this group is focused on the outcomes of these insults in cognitive, behavioural and social areas. Research is also focused on the benefits of intervention for children following developmental insult. The goal of our team is to enhance the understanding of how an insult can influence development in early childhood and the vulnerabilities of young children. Additionally, we are focused on tailoring and administering interventions for young ...
Research project
Program leader: Professor Vicki Anderson By the age of 10, 1 in 5 children (~51,000 in Australia alone) will sustain a concussion and present with acute Post-Concussion Symptoms (PCS). These symptoms vary from child to child, with the most common being headache, irritability and fatigue, and cognitive disruptions. At The Royal Children’s Hospital Emergency Department this equates to 1000+ concussions yearly, costing >$10M. These PCS resolve spontaneously within 4 weeks in 60% of children and youth, who then safely return to pre-injury activities, leaving ~40% suffering ‘persisting PCS’ (> 2 PCS lasting 4 weeks or more). Persisting PCS cause low tolerance for academic and sport/leisure activities, as well as secondary disruptions to education, fitness and mental health. The family impact of child concussion is significant: medical costs (e.g., radiology, allied health), lost work and school days and parent and child-related stress. Despite their debilitating impact, there is minimal understanding as ...
Research project
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) occurs when trauma causes damage to the brain. Within Australia, there is an annual incidence of 149/100,000 cases of traumatic brain injury across the age spectrum, of which 43.8% occur in children and adolescents. In a typical year approximately 3,000 children present to the Emergency Department (ED) at The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) with TBI. TBI can have enduring symptoms including fatigue, headache, poor concentration and irritability which have a significant impact on a young person’s capacity to return to school, leisure and sports. Consequently, they may fall behind in their studies and be unable to participate fully in daily life. While some young people adjust to these limitations, a significant number will have difficulty adjusting, and develop depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress. These internalised mental health problems may go undetected and untreated, further impacting the young person’s quality of life. A research team led by ...
Research project
Studying how genes may be involved in speech disorders in adults and children The Centre of Research Excellence in Speech and Language is an international collaboration of experts in the fields of speech pathology, neurology, neuroscience and genetics. Our CRE is focused on understanding the mechanisms underlying childhood speech disorders to develop novel targeted therapies. Researchers at The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute are studying the genetic causes of speech disorders. They are looking for children and adults who have speech sound disorder such as childhood apraxia of speech or severe phonological disorder. Our team have identified that, in many cases, severe speech disorder seems to simply arise in a child in a family, without any prior history of speech difficulties from the parents. In other cases, there is a strong history of speech difficulties from one or both sides of the family. At present, we have found we can identify ...
Research project
The Monash School of Psychological Sciences, together with MCRI, are interested in understanding whether a game-based attention training program can strengthen attention in children who have experienced an acquired brain injury (ABI). What is an acquired brain injury? An acquired brain injury can have a big impact on the way a person thinks, feels and behaves. The term describes any type of brain injury that happens after birth, and includes damage due to infection, tumours, stroke, lack of oxygen or trauma. It is estimated that as many as 20% of children with an ABI will go on to develop clinically significant attention deficits. What is the study about? Attention problems are a common feature of ABI and can have far-reaching consequences for learning, social relationships, and behaviour in childhood. Therefore, finding effective early interventions that can help improve attention is key to improving overall outcomes for children with ABI. Rehabilitation ...
Research project
Project overview More than two per cent of Victorian children up to the age of 11 are diagnosed with autism, with 30 per cent of those said to have lost language and social skills over time. Of those who lose skills, a smaller proportion will experience substantial regression over a period of just weeks or months. Little is known about the causes of this severe and rapid loss of skills. The MCRI’s Loss of Skills study will collect high quality information about children with autism or social and communication impairments consistent with autism who have substantial loss of skills. By focusing on children up to age seven, researchers hope to discover possible causes as well as describe clinical subtypes of loss of skills, and to be able to link the two. Who can participate? Children who live in Victoria diagnosed with autism or who have social communication impairments consistent with ...