Past grant recipients

The Research Foundation has a strong ongoing commitment to fund high quality research into the prevention, treatment and cure of cerebral palsy.

Since 2006, the Research Foundation has awarded more than $37 million to over 300 recipients.

These grants, selected on scientific merit by highly regarded international reviewers, address the Research Foundation’s priorities that were identified by key stakeholders including consumers (individuals and families), clinicians and researchers.

In the 2017/2018 grant round, our Grants Program awarded more than $5 million in project grants and career development grants to researchers across the globe, as well as people and infrastructure support.

Rosalie Power

The Children's Hospital at Westmead

Steptember Career Development Grant 2017
$27,639
Health related quality of life with focus on reproductive and sexual well-being of adolescents with cerebral palsy in rural Bangladesh.

The aim of this study is to describe the reproductive and sexual well-being of adolescents with cerebral palsy (CP) living in a low and middle-income country (LMIC). First, a systematic review will be undertaken to assess what is known about the reproductive and sexual well-being of adolescents with CP, globally. Second, to have in-depth understanding of the reproductive and sexual well-being of adolescents, we have designed a mixed methods study. Focus groups and individual interviews will be conducted with adolescents with CP and their primary caregivers identified through the Bangladesh Cerebral Palsy Register (BCPR) from the Shahjadpur sub-district in the northern part of Bangladesh to find out how adolescents feel about their reproductive and sexual well-being and what socio-cultural factors impact outcomes in this area. Interview outcomes will be compared to cases without disability. Findings will be used to guide the provision of resources and services to improve the long-term well-being of adolescents with CP. This research will describe the reproductive and sexual well-being of adolescents with CP to enable development of intervention programs that address determinants of wellbeing in Bangladesh and in low and middle income settings globally.

Tasneem Karim

The Children's Hospital at Westmead

Career Development Grant 2017
$133,500
Cerebral palsy (CP) in Bangladesh: towards developing a national CP register, surveillance, early diagnosis and interventions for children with CP in low resource setting

Cerebral palsy (CP) is the most common cause of childhood disability and is estimated to be nearly 5 to 10 times more prevalent in low and middle-income countries (LMIC). Yet the exact burden of CP in LMICs is largely unknown and the causal pathway is also likely to be different from high-income countries. Early diagnostic and intervention techniques designed for developed countries may not be appropriate for LMICs. Moreover, diagnosis of CP is delayed in LMICs and this poses a complex challenge in program development as early diagnosis is the key to early intervention. This study will i) describe the burden of CP in a typical LMIC, Bangladesh, through a population based register ii) assess the use of a novel method for early diagnosis and iii) assess the outcome of a parents led early intervention and rehabilitation program for children with CP, all of which is essential for evidence based program development in LMIC settings.

Shekeeb Mohammad

The Children's Hospital at Westmead

Steptember Project Grant 2017
$177,244
Improvement of care delivery and determining best outcome measures in children with dystonic cerebral palsy undergoing DBS

Selected children with severe dystonic cerebral palsy (CP) can benefit from a neurosurgical procedure called deep brain stimulation (DBS). DBS for dystonia involves permanent implantation of electrodes into parts of the brain called the globi pallidi or the subthalamic nuclei, which control movements. The electrodes are connected to an external pacemaker for adjustments and battery charging. Batteries in the pacemaker can last for 10-15 years, and then need replacement. We do not fully understand all patient and family related factors that can help decide which children will benefit most from DBS, how to best monitor response, set goals and measure outcomes. Currently paediatric DBS is not offered via a dedicated service and not available at all to most children in Australia. This application is for an enabling grant that will provide a framework to answer key questions and build up a service tailored to the study results.

Caroline Crowther

University of Aukland

Steptember Project Grant 2017
$189,034
Antenatal Magnesium Sulphate at 30 to 34 Week's Gestation for Fetal Neuroprotection - The MAGENTA Trial

Magnesium sulphate is recommended for women at risk of giving birth before 30 weeks’ gestation to reduce the risk of their baby developing cerebral palsy. Whether there are benefits at later gestations remains uncertain. The MAGENTA Trial is assessing whether magnesium sulphate given to women at risk of very preterm birth, between 30 to 34 weeks’ gestation reduces the risk of death or cerebral palsy in their children. If the results show benefit this would be of great importance to women at risk of very preterm birth, their children, the community, and would represent a very significant health benefit for Australia and New Zealand as well as having enormous relevance globally.

Angela Morrow

The Children’s Hospital at Westmead

Project Grant 2017
$22,100
A qualitative study: the lived experience, impact on daily living and management of pain in children and adolescents with cerebral palsy

Pain is a common problem in children and adolescents with cerebral palsy (CP). Pain in the CP population may be attributed to the disease, environment and therapeutic factors. Research has explored the lived experience of pain in adults with CP, but there is a lack of qualitative data on children and adolescents with CP experiencing pain. This study will explore the lived experience of pain, its impact and the management strategies used in children and adolescents with CP. Children and adolescents with CP aged between 9-18 years attending the Kids Rehab department at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead will be invited to participate if they have reported pain. Semi-structured interviews will be conducted with the participants to better understand the experience of pain from the perspective of the young person.

Michael Fahey

Monash University, Victoria

Project Grant 2017
$109,607
Finding the holy grail; "off the shelf" neural stem cell therapy for perinatal stroke

Perinatal stroke is a relatively common problem that is a principal cause of seizures, behavioural difficulties and cerebral palsy. Despite the remarkable ability of newborns to survive a stroke, there are currently no specific stroke treatments for infants, unlike adults. We propose that stem cells are an optimal treatment strategy. Specifically, the “holy grail” of treatments for perinatal stroke would be an off the shelf stem cell product that could halt the development of brain injury and repair damaged brain tissue. We will investigate a novel combination stem cell therapy, preconditioning with mesenchymal stem cells to improve the brain microenvironment for neural stem cell transplantation to mediate repair. Results from this work will lay the foundation for future clinical trials in humans.

Gulam Khandaker

Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute

Project Grant 2017
$100,000
An international multi-centre register of children with cerebral palsy in low and middle-income countries (Global LMIC CP Register: GLM-CPR)

This project aims to develop a platform for cerebral palsy (CP) surveillance through the establishment of an online data repository for an international multi-centre register of children with CP in low and middle-income countries (LMIC). This project will advance the knowledge base of CP aetiology and risk factors in LMICs to develop relevant, culturally appropriate and cost-effective prevention strategies. Furthermore, it will contribute to the development of regionally applicable strategies and models to build regional and national capacity, and the establishment of a global network for CP in LMIC through research, capacity building and service delivery.

Mark Mackay

Murdoch Children's Research Institute

Project Grant 2017
$38,893
Improving the early detection of cerebral palsy following symptomatic neonatal arterial ischaemic stroke using brain MRI imaging

Stroke affects 1 in 3, 5000-5,000 babies and is 17 times more likely to occur in the newborn period than any other time in childhood. Approximately one-third of newborns with stroke develop cerebral palsy (CP). Early detection of hemiplegic CP in babies with stroke is currently based on standardised clinical assessment at 3 months. Being able to recognise specific patterns on MRI scans at the time of stroke diagnosis, would mean even earlier identification of babies at high risk of CP. This study aims to identify specific brain imaging patterns associated with later development of CP, in over 120 Swiss and Australian children, using a combination of simple visualisation methods and more sophisticated brain mapping techniques. The study findings will assist health professionals to provide appropriate information to parents about their baby’s likelihood of developing CP prior to discharge, and allow early identification of babies requiring close developmental surveillance and intervention.

Roslyn Boyd

Queensland Cerebral Palsy and Rehabilitation Research Centre

Steptember Project Grant 2017
$172,730
VISIBLE: Vision Intervention for Seeing Impaired Babies through Learning and Enrichment

This pilot feasibility RCT study will address an urgent gap in rehabilitative interventions for infants with brain damage and severe vision impairments. Infants with severe cerebral visual impairment (CVI) and at high risk ofA Cerebral Palsy (CP) at 3-6 months will be enrolled into a 6-9 month intervention program up to 12 months of age. This novel RCT study will assess the feasibility of a vision-awareness program actively engaging parents in enriching their babies’ vision and development. The home-based program of goal-directed early intervention will be supported by multidisciplinary team through parent training and fortnightly home visits. The daily intervention activities will be provided by the parents and will focus on environmental enrichment and targeted vision-aware developmental goals. Behavioural assessments will be utilized to evaluate the program efficacy on vision, motor, and general developmental function. The sites (Pisa, Brisbane, Sydney) will utilize existing early detection/intervention networks to ensure successful completion.

Koa Whittingham

The University of Queensland

Steptember Project Grant 2017
$91,000
Early Parenting Acceptance and Commitment Therapy 'Early PACT' for parents of infants with cerebral palsy

Our aim is to test the efficacy of an early preventative family support package: Early Parenting Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (Early PACT) for families of infants identified as high risk of cerebral palsy (CP) at less than 12 months corrected age. We predict that Early PACT will have benefits to both parents, the infant and family functioning by leveraging the understanding, skills and the day to day interactions within the family system. Early PACT is consistent with the philosophy of family-centred care and, if effective, could be used to empower parents of infants identified as high risk of CP worldwide.

Graeme Polglase

Hudson Institute of Medical Research

Steptember Project Grant 2017
$91,946
Reducing cerebrovascular injury in asphyxiated, asystolic near-term lambs

Perinatal asphyxia causes an estimated 1 million deaths worldwide annually, with most deaths occurring within the first hours of life. Survivors have a very high risk of moderate-to-severe neurological impairments, including cerebral palsy. At birth, asphyxiated infants are unable to initiate breathing and maintain cardiac output, which severely compromises blood flow to the brain and causes brain injury in the first hours of life. Babies born asphyxic require rapid intervention in the form of ventilation and in extreme cases, chest compressions. However, it is not enough to simply restore cardiovascular function in these infants. They must be supported in a way that protects the brain to provide the best opportunity for good neurodevelopmental outcomes. Our research focuses on improving clinical interventions for asphyxiated infants in the delivery room. Specifically, we will determine whether giving chest compressions, prior to or after umbilical cord clamping, can reduce brain injury in asphyxiated newborns.

Elizabeth Elliott

The University of Sydney

Project Grant 2017
$100,000
Hospital-based Surveillance of cerebral palsy in Hanoi Vietnam using the Paediatric Active Enhanced Disease Surveillance System

In March 2016, CI Elliott and team received a Cerebral Palsy Alliance (CPA) grant (PG6115; $19,525) to: establish hospital-based surveillance of CP in 2 paediatric hospitals in Hanoi, Vietnam; characterise children presenting with CP to rehabilitation, general paediatric and neurology services; and estimate CP prevalence in Hanoi province. We identified a high burden of disease, delays in diagnosis, use of outdated treatment, poor access to evidence-based therapies, lack of mobility aids, and limited opportunities for clinician training. In partnership with colleagues in Vietnam we propose to build on the success of that grant and i) develop a Vietnamese CP register as an affiliated register with CPA; ii) audit current diagnosis and management of CP in Hanoi and evaluate compliance with evidence-based guidelines for best practice. Following this we will iii) provide training for Vietnamese clinicians in diagnosis and management of CP and iv) prospectively evaluate implementation of international practice guidelines.

Katherine Benfer

The University of Queensland

Project Grant 2017
$100,000
Peer delivered early intervention for Indigenous Australian infants at high risk of cerebral palsy: a pilot RCT study

Consistent with the prevailing trend for poorer health outcomes for Indigenous Australians, cerebral palsy (CP) prevalence is significantly greater than that for non-Indigenous Australians; with CP arising after birth five times more likely. LEAP-CP (Learning through Everyday Activities with Parents) pilots the effectiveness of a peer-delivered culturally adapted early intervention for Indigenous infants at risk of cerebral palsy. Infants aged between 3 months and 2 years will be randomly assigned to one of two intervention groups; community-based parent-delivered intervention (goal directed active motor training, enriched environments and nutritional support), or standard care (health advice). Infants receiving the intervention are expected to have better performance on motor/ cognitive outcomes at 3 years, and caregivers to have improved mental health, which have the potential to reduce the burden of disability in Indigenous communities.

Noula Gibson

Ability Centre

Steptember Project Grant 2017
$100,000
Evidence-based clinical guidelines for prevention and management of respiratory disease in young people with cerebral palsy

Each year, one in fourteen children and young people (aged up to 25 years) with cerebral palsy (CP) is admitted to hospital with respiratory illness. Two in five of these young people are re-admitted the next year. Some young people have many respiratory hospital admissions. Recent research has uncovered risk factors for identifying these young people earlier. However, there is currently no consensus about the most effective ways to prevent or manage respiratory illness in young people with CP. This project aims to review published information and gather expert knowledge about how clinicians can prevent respiratory illness in young people with CP, and manage it when it occurs. Doctors, young people with CP and their parents, physiotherapists, and speech therapists in Australia and internationally will be invited to participate. We aim to develop clinical guidelines for prevention and treatment pathways for young people with CP at risk of respiratory illness.

Tom Chau

Bloorview Research Institute

Project Grant 2017
$200,000
The Switch-App: A novel and versatile home-based approach to personalized access technology for children with cerebral palsy and complex communication needs

We will develop and evaluate a novel home-based intervention designed to provide children with cerebral palsy and complex communication needs with a personalized computer/tablet access solution that can be easily set-up in their home environment. The intervention will entail the child-centred identification of orofacial movements (e.g., mouth opening/closing, eyebrow movements), keywords or vocalizations, and the home-based customization of a novel access technology, the “Switch-App”, to the identified user-specific inputs. The Switch-App will recognize orofacial movements and vocalizations via a camera and microphone, allowing in-home communication and writing practice.

Robert Galinsky

Hudson Institute of Medical Research

Steptember Project Grant 2017
$120,000
Targeting the IL-1β inflammatory pathway for preventing preterm brain injury

Cerebral palsy is associated with exposure to systemic inflammation around the time of preterm birth. Changes in brain development after preterm birth likely reflect dysmaturation of cells, rather that overt cell loss. We will utilise a translational large animal model of inflammation-induced preterm brain injury to examine how inflammation impairs brain growth and function, and test whether blocking a key inflammatory pathway, using an FDA approved treatment, restores normal brain development. We will provide important insight into how brain injury evolves in response to exposure to inflammation during the perinatal period. If successful, the therapeutic intervention outlined in this proposal will lead to major advances in reducing the incidence and severity of adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes, such as CP, after preterm birth.

David Walker

RMIT University

Project Grant 2017
$100,000
Midkine treatment for multi-organ protection from hypoxia and inflammation in neonates

The GOAL of this program is to develop a safe and easily administered therapy for infants that have experienced oxygen and nutrient starvation during gestation and at birth. We propose that treatment with the growth factor MIDKINE has the potential to address complications of birth asphyxia, principally neonatal encephalopathy (NE) and associated multi-organ dysfunction involving respiratory, cardiovascular, renal and digestive systems. In this project, we will determine the most effective and clinically relevant way to deliver midkine to neonatal animals (systemic vs intranasal routes), and investigate if midkine treatment at various times after birth improves the health of infants that would otherwise suffer multi-organ damage and cerebral palsy. The results of this study will be readily transferable to a clinical trial of midkine in infants - in both high-income settings where therapeutic hypothermia is available, and in low resource settings where such interventions are not available.

Clare McKinnon

Murdoch Children's Research Institute

Project Grant 2017
$16,953
Pain in Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy

Children with CP have altered muscle tone which makes it more difficult for them to develop, move and play like typically developing children. In children with dyskinetic CP, their bodies move in an uncontrollable way that makes their posture and movement appear twisting or jerky in nature. Children with this type of CP often experience pain that can affect their well-being, ability to complete daily tasks on their own, and quality of life. However pain is hard to recognize, measure, and treat in this population. This study aims to explore the experience, recognition, and management of pain in children with dyskinetic CP. The study will identify the proportion of children with dyskinetic CP who experience pain and will further describe the intensity, body areas affected, and the impact pain has on children’s lives.

Morgan Sangeux

Murdoch Children's Research Institute

Project Grant 2017
$53,454
The NeuroDisability Movement Analysis Tool

Dyskinesia is a disabling movement disorder frequently identified in children with cerebral palsy. It causes significant pain and limitations to function resulting in reduced quality of life for children. Dyskinesia is challenging to assess accurately and treat effectively. There is a lack of clinically feasible, useful and sensitive tools that can accurately measure dyskinesia and its impact on a child’s function. Consequently, there are significant limitations in our ability to measure the effectiveness of the interventions offered to this population of children. This project will develop and validate a new tool that can accurately: 1) measure the amount of involuntary movement seen in dyskinesia, and 2) differentiate dyskinesia from other movement disorders. With clinically useful and accurate tools we will be able to measure dyskinesia in a meaningful way and tailor our interventions to ensure that the right interventions are given for the right child at the right time.

Alistair McEwan

University of Sydney

Project Grant 2017
$200,000
Neural Interfaces for long-term implantable therapy in cerebral palsy

Acquired brain injuries (ABIs) account for the overwhelming majority of movement disorders. Electrical stimulation is an established approach for the restoration of muscle movement, but thus far its utility as a therapy has been limited. There are two primary causes for this: poor selectivity in the activation of desired muscles, that may result in unwanted contractions; and the co-activation of efferent (e.g. motor) and afferent (e.g. sensory) fibres. In this ex-vivo study we focus upon solving these two key issues so that electrical stimulation can become a viable therapy in the treatment of ABIs and in particular, cerebral palsy. Targeted stimulation or blocking of fibres that lead to rigidity and pain would alleviate these two major areas of unmet need in cerebral palsy.

Sue Woolfenden

University of New South Wales

Career Development Grant 2017
$30,000
To what extent does the ‘inverse care law’ apply to paediatric health care in Australia? Investigating how disadvantage changes access to health care for children with CP and other disabilities at a population, service and individual level

The more a family struggles with money, education, employment and the poorer the neighbourhood they live in, the more likely their children will have poorer health and disabilities like cerebral palsy (CP) compared to children from richer backgrounds. Families with the least financial and social resources may have more difficulty getting the services that will pick up any disability that their child may have early and get them to therapy that will make a difference. Minority ethnic groups also tend to have worse health and struggle to access services. This research will determine if this is the case for children with CP and other developmental disabilities in Australia using big data and the voices of people with lived experience of CP. We will then work together to use this research to tackle these inequalities. These findings will assist in ensuring that all children who have CP and other disabilities receive the services that they need. Findings from this research will also inform future research with our Asia Pacific neighbours.

Traci-Anne Goyen

Western Sydney Local Health District

Project Grant 2017
$52,147
Optimal head position for the first 72 hours of life: Neuroprotection for the preterm infant? A pilot randomised controlled trial

Bleeding in the brain is common in extremely preterm infants (33.9%) and is associated with poor outcome, including cerebral palsy, for up to 30% with brain bleeds. Most brain bleeds occur within the first 24–72 hours of life and protection of the brain during this critical period is essential in preventing brain damage. A problem with regulation of blood flow to the infant’s brain is thought to cause these bleeds. Evidence suggests that careful positioning of the preterm infant’s head in the first 72 hours of life may protect the fragile brain, with the potential to prevent brain bleeds and improve outcome. Clinical practice guidelines recommend centring the baby’s head as a preventative measure for brain bleeds, though with limited supporting evidence. This study aims to determine whether careful positioning of the head will reduce the incidence and severity of bleeding in the brain and likelihood of cerebral palsy.

Peter Lally

Imperial College London

Project Grant 2017
$50,000
Quantifying the effect of co-existent perinatal sepsis on hypothermic neuroprotection in hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy using cerebral magnetic resonance biomarkers

Pre-clinical evidence suggests co-existent perinatal sepsis alongside birth asphyxia worsens brain injury, making therapeutic hypothermia ineffective, however this hypothesis has not yet been examined in clinical studies. We will measure the impact of co-existent perinatal infection on babies with perinatal asphyxia, with and without whole-body hypothermia, using the MRI data and blood samples of 408 babies, collected as part of a large randomised controlled trial of hypothermia (HELIX). Using the MR data, we will quantify the concentration of N-acetylaspartate (a marker of nerve cell integrity that strongly correlates with neurodevelopmental outcomes at 2 years) in the brain. We will use automated blood culture and targeted quantitative PCR for a wide range of perinatal pathogens to accurately detect perinatal infection. Using regression models, we will examine the associations between N-acetylaspartate, hypothermia and perinatal infection. These data will have substantial implications for the management of asphyxiated babies with co-existent perinatal infection.

Courtney McDonald

Monash University

Project Grant 2017
$105,601
Targeting the inflammasome; the key to curing Cerebral Palsy?

Inflammation is a critical contributor in complications that occur during pregnancy and birth, and result in perinatal brain injury. These include hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), chorioamnionitis, intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) and genetic inflammatory conditions such as Aicardi Goutieres syndrome (AGS). Currently, many of these conditions have insufficient therapeutic options and for those that do, such as hypothermia for HIE, many babies still develop severe neurological impairment. There is a desperate need to develop new therapies. Neuro-inflammation is a common pathway mediating brain injury, and therefore we propose that targeting inflammation will aid in ameliorating or curing CP. The role of the inflammasome, a key signalling platform that matures highly pro-inflammatory cytokines, is not well described in perinatal brain injury and is a likely target for therapeutic intervention. Its role in adult inflammation is well understood and inhibitors have been developed that have the potential to be ‘repurposed’ for perinatal brain injury.

Amanda Kwong

The University of Melbourne

Career Development Grant 2017
$20,000
Using a Parent-Operated Smartphone Application to Screen Infants for Cerebral Palsy and Motor Impairment

This study aims to assess the use of a parent-operated smartphone app, Baby Moves, in approximately 250 infants born extremely premature (born 3-4 months before their due date) or extremely low birth weight (born less than 1kg in weight) and 250 infants born at full term from 2016 to 2017 in Victoria to detect later motor problems, including cerebral palsy (CP), which is a major childhood disability. Early infant motor screening is important to identify infants who are at risk of developing CP as commencement of early intervention can improve later outcomes. Videos will be captured by parents and reviewed remotely by skilled clinicians using the General Movements Assessment, which can predict infants who will develop CP with excellent accuracy. This is the first time that a smartphone app will be used to screen infants for motor delay and hence, the feasibility of this app will be tested within my PhD. By using a family-centred approach, the Baby Moves app aims to improve identification of at-risk infants, access to timely assessment and beneficial intervention for our most vulnerable infants.

Marlies Declerck

Anton De Kom University of Suriname

Steptember Project Grant 2017
$12,757
Suriname Cerebral Palsy Register

The Suriname CP Register project aims to set-up a CP register, meeting international standards, in order to gather information on children who currently have CP and children who will be diagnosed with CP in the future. This information is both related to the causes of CP, as well as, the problems the children and families are facing, and the help or services they need. Suriname is an upper-middle income country on the north east coast of Suriname and hosts people with a variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Unfortunately, children with CP are underrepresented in the society, and are known not to be diagnosed correctly and not to receive proper treatment. In order to improve the management for these children and families, we aim to set-up a system for registering the children with CP, so knowledge can be gathered and appropriate management and services can be offered in the future.

Kenneth Roger Katumba

MRC / UVRI Uganda Research Unit

Steptember Project Grant 2017
$23,070
The Cost of Improving Early Detection and Intervention for Young Infants at High Risk of Neurodevelopmental Delay and Disability in Uganda

Each year, more than 8 million children are affected by birth complications which increase their risk of disability including cerebral palsy. The majority live in developing countries like Uganda, with limited resources to support affected children and their families. The ABAaNA Early Intervention Programme is a facilitated, community-based group programme for young children with cerebral palsy that has been developed by our international research team for use in low-income countries. Early research has shown positive effects of the Programme for children and families and a larger trial is underway to more fully assess the Programmes full impact on health and well-being. This proposed study will build on this existing work to examine i) the cost to families and services of caring for a child with disability in Uganda and ii) the cost-effectiveness of the ABAaNA Programme. The findings will support future implementation, scale-up and sustainability of the Programme.

Suzie Miller

HUDSON INSTITUTE OF MEDICAL RESEARCH

Project Grant 2017
$133,818
Does antenatal lactoferrin promote connectivity of the growth restricted brain?

In perinatal medicine, fetal growth restriction (FGR) is a common complication of pregnancy associated with high risk of mortality, and in survivors, preterm birth and neurodevelopmental deficits. There are currently no antenatal or postnatal treatments that are proven to improve neurological outcomes in FGR infants. Brain grey matter volume is reduced in human FGR infants, with new imaging technologies demonstrating that the neuropathology associated with human FGR does not necessarily include gross lesions, structural deficits or cell loss, but predominantly consists of poor connectivity and networking between cells. This is critical, as reduced network complexity is correlated with cognitive deficits and hyperactivity in children who were FGR at birth.

Paul Dawson

Mater Medical Research Institute

Project Grant 2017
$82,500
Sulphate pharmacokinetics in preterm neonates: towards a sulphate therapy to reduce the rate of cerebral palsy (KiSPrem study)

Preterm birth places more than 4000 Australian infants born each year at an increased risk of cerebral palsy. We are addressing this health issue with our research into the neuroprotective role of sulphate among preterm babies, which: (i) demonstrates sulphate deficiency in preterm infants; and (ii) supports an association between low blood sulphate level at 1 week of age and abnormal General Movements assessment, which predicts cerebral palsy. That study will lead into a clinical trial of neonatal sulphate intervention. However, in order to design a supplementation trial we need to have a robust understanding of sulphate pharmacokinetics in preterm infants, as well as identify a plasma sulphate level that is protective. This information is essential for understanding the required dose and timing of neonatal sulphate supplementation, which may prove a low-cost, simple and effective treatment that would be available to all preterm infants to prevent cerebral palsy.

Steven Miller

Hospital for Sick Children, Canada

Steptember Project Grant 2017
$200,000
POEM: Pain, Outcomes and Epigenetic Mechanisms of Cerebral Palsy

Very preterm neonates remain at high risk for cerebral palsy (CP) due to the vulnerability of the developing brain. We now recognize the adverse impact of neonatal pain on the preterm brain. How pain contributes to the burden of CP in children born preterm remains largely unknown. Our findings suggest that pain may alter key sensory pathways in the brain. Abnormal development of these pathways may then lead to CP. Early pain may also alter gene expression through “epigenetics”. In this 4-year prospective study we propose building on an ongoing study to add epigenetic samples and long-term follow up for a group of very preterm neonates (n=120) in a foundational cohort; these preterm neonates are being studied serially with advanced MRI and neurodevelopmental testing. Understanding how pain impacts the brain and the role of epigenetics in the preterm population may be one key to preventing CP in this vulnerable population.

Amanda Spirit-Jones

Cerebral Palsy Alliance

Project Grant 2017
$50,000
RCT Pilot Study Comparing Intensive Motor Learning Feeding Interventions to Standard Practice in Infants at Risk of Cerebral Palsy

Dysphagia affects 70-100% of children with cerebral palsy (CP) and can impact growth, development or result in aspiration pneumonia; the leading cause of death in CP. This pilot randomised controlled trial study, aims to understand whether oral feeding difficulties, reliance on compensatory strategies, secondary impairments and related morbidity can be reduced in infants who are at risk of or have been diagnosed with CP. We will compare Intensive Early Active Treatment (I-EAT) to usual care. I-EAT program comprises intensive intervention (4 weeks of twice weekly sessions, followed by 8 weeks of weekly sessions) in the home setting. Parents will be supported to implement interventions individualised to their infant’s feeding skills and will follow neuroplasticity and motor learning principles. Intervention will begin with traditional compensatory strategies, which simplify the feeding task, and will be slowly titrated down to safely manage increasingly more difficult tasks, build skills and minimise reliance on compensation.

In 2016/2017, our Grants Program awarded more than $7 million in project grants and career development grants to researchers across the globe, as well as people and infrastructure support.

Joakim Ek

UNIVERSITY OF GOTHENBURG

STEPTEMBER Project Grant 2016
$44,775
Targeting the vasculature for neuroprotection in neonatal brain injury

Restricted blood flow and oxygen to the brain during birth can results in injury to the brain (the medical term is Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, HIE). It occurs in 2-3 per 1000 term babies and is the leading cause of death and permanent, life-long disorders including cerebral palsy. There is clear evidence that the blood vessels are damaged in the injury process but very few new treatment strategies have been aimed at the vasculature. This project will clarify how blood vessels are damaged and test novel treatments for the brain blood vessels to restore their normal function.


Lena Krumlinde-Sundholm

KAROLINSKA INSTITUTET, SOLNA, SWEDEN

STEPTEMBER Project Grant 2016
$79,000
To evaluate and guide interventions of hand use for people with Cerebral Palsy. AHA…!

The AHA family of instruments comprise several different tests for infants to adults. These tests are developed using modern test theory by Rasch analysis. Subsequently, outcome measures are in the unit logits. All scale steps are then equally big and results can be compared at all levels of the scale. Each test has about half of its items equal to the adjacent scales. These items can be linked to have the same difficulty level, and the other items will adjust related to the anchored values. Measures from different scales can then be compared on one measurement ruler for all ages.


Shona Goldsmith

CEREBRAL PALSY ALLIANCE

Project Grant 2016
$66,218
The Comprehensive CA-CP Study: Combining congenital anomaly (CA) and cerebral palsy (CP) data for a comprehensive investigation into opportunities for prevention

Children with CP are at high risk of having co-occurring congenital anomalies. Because both conditions are relatively rare, large populations are required to comprehensively research this topic. This study will pool high quality data from registers in Australia and Europe, and will be ten times the size of any previous study. The study size will allow us to definitively determine the types of anomalies that co-occur, and their causal pathways to CP. We will hypothesize strategies to prevent pathways to congenital anomalies and CP, determine which are available now and need increased public health messaging and which require further research.


Mary Tolcos

ROYAL MELBOURNE INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

Project Grant 2016
$242,657
A novel antenatal therapy to correct white matter deficits in intrauterine growth restriction

Babies who grow poorly in the uterus often suffer brain injury at birth, and acquire disabilities such as cerebral palsy. Poor brain growth before birth is associated with delayed development of myelin-producing cells in the brain – oligodendrocytes – and this contributes to brain damage, particularly in the so-called white matter areas. We propose that impaired development of oligodendrocytes and white matter is caused by a deficiency in transport of thyroid hormone into the oligodendrocytes, and treatment with a novel thyroid hormone analogue – DITPA – which can easily enter these cells, will correct this type of brain damage


Jeffrey Craig

MURDOCH CHILDRENS RESEARCH INSTITUTE

Project Grant 2016
$95,128
Can we predict cerebral palsy at birth using epigenetics

Although most CP originates before birth, diagnosis is often delayed until the second year of life. We propose that “epigenetic“ gene switches known to be influenced by the environment before birth can be used to predict which babies will develop CP, enabling immediate intervention to help lessen the symptoms of this condition. We are studying a group of identical twin pairs discordant for CP to focus on early environment and not on genetics. We have generated some exciting data studying Victorian twins and would now like to see whether we find a similar pattern in twins in NSW.


Cathy Morgan

CEREBRAL PALSY ALLIANCE

Project Grant 2016
$170,000
Understanding the early natural history of cerebral palsy – retrospective and prospective cohort studies

 

These studies are of 2 separate but related groups of infants. The first study analyses existing Italian medical records for the purpose of identifying the best combination of assessments that ought to be used to accurately detect CP in infancy. Study two will map the development of infants with CP over the first two years of life. Infants at high risk of CP will be assessed at regular intervals in Australia and Italy to assist clinicians to identify muscle and joint problems (e.g. onset of pain, muscle stiffness) very early and help parents by accurately predicting the child’s prognosis.


Simon Paget

THE CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL AT WESTMEAD

Project Grant 2016
$72,575
National Registry for Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy in Australia

Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR). SDR permanently reduces stiffness (spasticity) in the legs. The aim of the surgery is most commonly to improve walking abilities. Our understanding of what happens to children who have had SDR is incomplete. More information is needed to understand the impact of SDR long-term on mobility, families’ goals, self-care, quality of life and pain. This study aims to improve understanding of the outcomes of children after SDR by collecting information about children who have been treated by SDR across Australia


Alicia Spittle

MURDOCH CHILDRENS RESEARCH INSTITUTE

STEPTEMBER Project Grant 2016
$100,000
Translating the “Baby Moves App” to assess infants General Movements from research to clinical practice

This grant will expand the use of a smart-phone application (app) called Baby Moves that can be used to assess the quality of infants’ movements using the General Movements assessment, the most valid and reliable method for detecting infants at risk of cerebral palsy (CP) in the first 4 months of life. We will expand our app and develop a secure server that can be accessed by health professionals and researchers throughout Australia.


Anne Moseley

THE GEORGE INSTITUTE FOR GLOBAL HEALTH

STEPTEMBER Project Grant 2016
$33,000
PEDro (Physiotherapy Evidence Database): rapid access to the latest trials, reviews and guidelines on rehabilitation for people with cerebral palsy

This project will provide rapid access to the latest clinical research about the effects of rehabilitation for people with cerebral palsy. Users will be able to search PEDro using the cerebral palsy topic code and sign up to receive the latest content relevant to cerebral palsy using Evidence in your inbox. Users subscribing to the Evidence in your inbox – cerebral palsy feed will receive an email containing the latest research for cerebral palsy. This rapid access will provide healthcare workers around the world with easy and immediate access to high-quality clinical research so that they can use the most up-to-date knowledge to guide the treatment of people with cerebral palsy


Svetha Venkatesh

DEAKIN UNIVERSITY

Project Grant 2016
$134,409
Accuracy of Machine Scoring of Fidgety Movements from High Risk infant populations

The project will construct methods for analysis of videos of fidgety movement obtained from high risk populations. This will involve:

  1. Construction of a platform to access, store, standardize and construct metadata for video data systematically.
  2. To apply machine learning methods, the video needs to be enhanced and “deconstructed” into representations that are machine readable. This is an important stage of the process as finding the appropriate representation is critical for accurate classification. This stage will explore extraction of motion features and their representation.
  3. Classifiers will then be constructed to separate the two classes (normal vs (abnormal+ borderline).
  4. Stages (b) and (c) have to be iterated to find the best combination of enhancements, features and classifiers for deriving the highest accuracy.

Mark Corbett

UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE

STEPTEMBER Career Development Grant 2016
$120,250
The Genetics of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy (CP) describes disorders comprised of varying degrees of impaired movement with or without other symptoms related to brain function such as intellectual disability and epilepsy. CP is traditionally regarded as a disease caused by lack of oxygen at birth due to environmental factors however our recent research shows that a large proportion of CP is genetic in origin. This project uses the currently best available methods to determine how many and which genes are involved in CP. The project delivers beneficial genetic diagnoses in the short-term and understanding of the biology behind CP causation in the long-term.


Brian Hoare

MONASH HEALTH

Career Development Grant 2016
$50,000
Beyond movement and posture: Understanding cognition in children with unilateral cerebral palsy

The ability to perform daily tasks, such as tying our shoelaces, requires much more than simply moving our muscle and joints. We need to think, understand and have a plan. This is known as cognition. Previous research in CP has predominantly focused on movement and not considered how cognition affects the ability to perform daily tasks. This research program will provide new knowledge to assist in better understanding the systems involved in task performance, beyond simply the movements required. This will inform existing, and develop new, more effective treatment approaches to improve the quality of care for children with CP


Tamara Yawno

HUDSON INSTITUTE OF MEDICAL RESEARCH

Career Development Grant 2016
$50,000
A new promise for the treatment of neonatal seizures

Around 1 in 10 Australian newborns have fits each year and lack of oxygen is the most common cause. They can be difficult to identify and it is unclear what the best treatment is. They occur in the babies with the worst injury. This project will use a sheep model of premature injury from low oxygen to examine a new treatment, ganaxolone, as a treatment for neonatal seizures.


Natasha Bear

PERTH CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL

STEPTEMBER Career Development Grant 2016
$45,000
Developing Biostatistical leadership in cerebral palsy and disability research can lead to improved outcomes for children with cerebral palsy

I offer the unique skill combination as a physiotherapist and biostatistician. Currently there is a worldwide shortage of biostatisticians which is delaying research projects. I wish to focus my skills in cerebral palsy research:

1) Lung Disease/Chest infections risk factors

2) Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy – an operation that is only performed in Sydney, Melbourne or overseas. It aims to relax the muscle in their legs. Data will be collected across Australia and I have been asked by the group to analyze this data

3) Teaching statistics to clinicians– I aim to develop a workshop that helps improve confidence in using statistics.


Hayley Smithers-Sheedy

CEREBRAL PALSY ALLIANCE

STEPTEMBER Career Development Grant 2016
$180,000
Early identification and prevention of CP from common congenital and neonatal viral infections CMV and HPeV

Neonatal and congenital infections such as congenital cytomegalovirus (cCMV) and the newly described human parechovirus (HPeV) are important, underrecognised contributors to neurodevelopmental disabilities including CP. This fellowship will enable a program of research to investigate the outcomes of these common infections. Large health datasets will be used to better define the incidence, aetiology, morbidity and mortality of cCMV in NSW. The General Movements Assessment will be investigated as a tool for identifying early risk of CP amongst infants with cCMV and HPeV. Finally, a national prospective cCMV disease registry will be used to assess effects of treatment on neurodevelopmental outcomes. This research program will identify early predictors of disability from these infections and inform targeted early interventions to reduce disability.


Madison Paton

THE HUDSON INSTITUTE OF MEDICAL RESEARCH

Career Development Grant 2016
$52,578
A targeted stem cell therapy for preterm brain inflammation

Infants who are exposed to infection in utero are likely to be born preterm and have a very high incidence of perinatal brain injury and cerebral palsy. Brain injury in these infants is most commonly observed in the white matter, and likely arises due to brain inflammation in response to infection, which is exacerbated by preterm birth. We propose that the anti-inflammatory and reparative properties of cord blood stem cells will be able to reduce brain inflammation and prevent the progression of brain injury.


Bobbi Fleiss

KING’S COLLEGE LONDON

Career Development Grant 2016
$5,770
Career development support associated with: Perinatal Brain Injury – targeting delayed phase neuroinflammation to improve brain health

Injury to the developing brain, underlying cerebral palsy amongst other disorders, can cause delayed changes in gene expression, and differences in the response to further brain injury or inflammatory challenge in adulthood. These changes following injury are controlled in part by alterations in the brains immune cells (microglia). We will study modifications to microglial DNA (epigenetics) to understand these delayed changes and develop a novel nanoparticle-mediated therapy to restore their balance to normality, a proof-of-concept that the damaging effects of early life injury can be altered many weeks after injury to improve adult brain health


Shekeeb S Mohammad

THE UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY

Career Development Grant 2016
$15,000
Developing a low-cost community based intervention model for epilepsy in children with cerebral palsy

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a result of brain injury due to various reasons, usually in early life. Children with CP have movement difficulties and many can have epilepsy. Although CP is not progressive, if epilepsy is not identified and properly treated, it can deprive these children of their full developmental potential. Through this project we will identify and treat these children using low cost interventions. We will also educate local healthcare workers to sustain this model of service delivery. Information from this project will also be used to design larger intervention studies and replicate the model in other resource poor settings


Belinda Deramore Denver

AUSTRALIAN CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY

Career Development Grant 2016
$50,000
Development and initial validation of an assessment of visual ability for children with cerebral palsy

This research will develop an assessment of the visual ability of children with cerebral palsy. Visual ability is defined as ‘how vision is used’, and consists of the visual behaviors that are observable during typical daily activities. The program of research will answer why a measure of visual ability should be used with children with cerebral palsy; who should assess visual abilities and whether parents and clinicians without expertise in vision can measure visual abilities; determine which children are important to assess; establish how visual ability be measured and described; and provide evidence for validity of the new assessment tool.


Nathanael James Yates

THE UNIVERSITY OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Career Development Grant 2016
$3,972
Monitoring Brain Function in Preterm Lambs: Tracking Brain Development Using Electroencephalography

Premature birth and early life complications are risks for poor brain development, such as in cerebral palsy. There is a great need for cheap and effective clinical prognostic and diagnostic indicators. We propose using a commonly used measure of brain electrical activity, electroencephalography (EEG), to generate better understanding of brain development and predict the development abnormalities in the brain. Our long-term preterm lamb model offers opportunities for assessing which antenatal and postnatal factors contribute abnormal brain development. Technique will be then used in a clinical setting to establish how risks factors and neonatal treatment alter human neonate brain development


Eve Blair

TELETHON KIDS INSTITUTE

Distinguished Career Award 2016
$34,900
A Distinguished Career Award: to continue research in cerebral palsy in aetiology, prevention and life expectancy

This application seeks funding to assist with the completion of a number of projects outstanding when I retired from my funded position at the Telethon Kids Institute in 2015. They involve the conduct and documentation of research projects in both the aetiology and management of cerebral palsy as well as a consulting role for the Australian Cerebral Palsy Register, drawing on my training in scientific methods and 35 years’ experience in cerebral palsy research.


Sue Woolfenden

UNIVERSITY OF NEW SOUTH WALES

Career Development Grant 2016
$33,782
Opportunities for prevention and early detection of Cerebral Palsy in Australia and globally through the examination of sociodemographic profiles

The more a family struggles with money, education, employment and the poorer the neighbourhood they live in, the more likely their children will have poorer health and disabilities like CP compared to children from richer backgrounds. Also the poorer you are, the more likely it is that it is hard for you to get to services that will pick up your child’s disability early and get them to therapy that will make a difference. This research will see if this is the case for children with CP in Australia and then use this research to tackle these inequalities


Rosalie Power

UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY

Career Development Grant 2016
$26,289
Health related quality of life of adolescents with cerebral palsy living in rural Bangladesh and the psychological wellbeing of their primary caregivers

Health related quality of life is a multidimensional concept for measuring physical, psychological, social and sexual wellbeing in relation to health. This topic is often overlooked during adolescence and to date there is no research into the health related quality of life of adolescents with cerebral palsy in Bangladesh. This proposed research will describe the health related quality of life of adolescents aged 13-18 years old with cerebral palsy living in rural Bangladesh. The research will also describe the psychological wellbeing of their primary caregivers. Systematic reviews will be undertaken to find out what is already known about this topic. Information will then be collected directly from adolescents with cerebral palsy and their primary caregivers. Using face-to-face questionnaires and interviews participants will be asked questions about their/ their adolescent’s physical, psychological, social, and sexual wellbeing. The primary care giver will also be asked question about their own wellbeing in relation to depression, anxiety and stress. This information will be used to guide the provision of resources and services to improve the long-term wellbeing of this population.


Gulam Khandaker

CHILD SIGHT FOUNDATION, BANGLADESH

TNA Project Grant 2016
$111,468
Establishing an assistive device centre for children with cerebral palsy in Bangladesh

We propose to establish a local wheelchair production operation (i.e. assistive device centre) to meet the needs of children with CP and their families as a well as to develop a model for integrated community based rehabilitation services for children with CP in rural communities of Bangladesh. Wheelchairs and assistive devices (walkers and other mobility aids) will be produced locally and the centre will also offer ongoing training, repair and maintenance of the devices for local NGOs and families. Once established this assistive device centre will also serve as a training facility for local and regional NGOs on integrated community based rehabilitation for children with CP in rural Bangladesh. This project has several interlocking components which includes;

  • A special wheelchair manufacturing/production facility
  • One-stop service centre for wheelchairs and other assistive devices
  • A training facility for local and regional NGOs and families of children with CP
  • Coordinating facility for community based rehabilitation services for children with CP in rural and remote communities

The project will;

  • reduce the significant shipping costs of wheelchairs (currently sourced from Australia)
  • enable low cost local sourcing of materials
  • build local capacity for manufacture and maintenance of wheelchairs and assistive devices
  • build local capacity for disability service provision
  • build capacity of parents and local health workers to deliver home based rehabilitation for their child with CP (through training provided as part of this project)
  • provide meaningful employment opportunities for local community members
  • enable the collection of vital disability data to build the Bangladesh CP Register (families who receive wheelchairs and devices will be asked to provide health data regarding their child’s disability).

Gulam Khandaker

SYDNEY UNIVERSITY

Career Development Fellowship 2016
$60,000
Career Development Fellowship: Global program to map, detect and intervene in infection-related childhood disability

The work outlined in this proposal aims to improve lives of children with disability, some of the most vulnerable people in the world. The studies utilise a range of methodologies from qualitative research methods to highly complex population data analysis displaying a broad range of expertise, and collaborations with paediatricians, neonatologists, physiotherapist, anthropologists, disability experts, and social researchers. These projects will generate some of the first scientific evidence on infectious causes of childhood disabilities including CP, provide a better understanding of the global burden of CP, and complement the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Australia would therefore be positioned within this area to make changes to empower people.


Gulam Khandaker

CHILD SIGHT FOUNDATION, BANGLADESH

Project Grant 2016
$60,000
Bangladesh Cerebral Palsy Register (BCPR): scaling up and sustaining the first population based CP register from a low and middle income country

Continuation of the 2014 Project Grant Bangladesh CP Register.


Brooke Adair

Career Advancement Award 2016
$25,000
Learning best practice of international established activity programs for children with cerebral palsy: a correlation of evidence

International fact finding mission


Evan Y. Snyder

SANFORD BURNHAM PREBYS MEDICAL DISCOVERY INSTITUTE

2016
US$190,000
Pre-IND-enabling studies: Evaluating the synergistic vs. antagonistic actions of human neural stem cells in combination with hypothermia for neuroprotection in perinatal hypoxic-ischemic brain injury

Lack of blood flow and oxygen to the newborn brain (called “hypoxic-ischemic injury [HII]”) remains a devastating and common problem with serious life-long neurological sequelae, including CP, severe motor, sensory, and cognitive impairment, epilepsy, learning disabilities, and autistic behaviors. The cost to the economy is ~US$ 1 million-per-child in terms of life-long medical and rehabilitative care. The indirect costs based on the impact on family dynamics is 2-5-fold more. Presently there is no treatment or even an accurate predictor. The latest clinical intervention is head/body cooling which only helps modestly for moderate HII and only if started within the 1st 6 hours of life, meaning that many babies miss even this sub-optimal therapy. We have strong evidence that neural stem cells may rescue and protect endangered regions of the brain subjected to HII. We have also devised a brain imaging strategy for monitoring the evolution of the injury, selection of appropriate patients, and tracing improvement. Any new interventions for HII, however, must be coordinated with cooling which is now standard-of-care. Yet, it is not known how to coordinate the administration of these 2 modalities in a way that enables them to work additively with each other and not antagonistically. Once we have answered this question, we are prepared to request permission from the FDA to launch a clinical trial in babies at high risk for CP. There is a dire need for better, later, and more broadly-applicable treatments against HII that more elegantly target injurious processes. Were there a treatment that reduces the morbidity associated with neonatal HII, the benefits for affected infants and children, their families, and society would be enormous. In addition, brain imaging paradigms used in this proposal could be applied to many acquired or degenerative neural diseases of all ages.


Nathalie Linda Maitre

NATIONWIDE CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL

Project Grant 2016
US$107,000
RCT of Feeding intervention with Pacifier Activated Device and Mother’s Voice in Infants at High-risk for Cerebral Palsy

Children with/at high-risk for CP have frequent feeding problems, such as dysphagias, chronic aspiration and abnormal feeding behaviors. These disorders often result in morbidities during infancy and have a profound impact on family/community participation and development into adulthood. Evidence for behaviorally-based feeding interventions ranges from insufficient to moderate, pointing to a clear need for rigorous studies. To address these needs and in keeping with research priorities of the Cerebral Palsy Alliance, the current proposal will determine the efficacy of non-nutritive suck (NNS) training using a pacifier-activated device (PAM) with mothers’ voice to condition suck-strength and rhythmicity, in improving the feeding and developmental outcomes of infants at high-risk for CP. We will perform a large randomized controlled trial in US and Australia NICU infants with abnormal General Movements and characteristic neuroimaging lesions to accomplish the following:

Aim 1: Demonstrate that NNS training with PAM/ mother’s voice will result in improved oral feeding skills before discharge as compared to control infants receiving mother’s voice separate from pacifier sucking.

Aim 2: Demonstrate that NNS training will result in fewer feeding difficulties and medical complications in the first year, with potentially improved neurodevelopment, in infants classified high-risk for CP by 3-4 month GMA.


Vedant A. Kulkarni

SHRINERS HOSPITALS FOR CHILDREN

Project Grant 2016
US$22,214
Smartphone App to Enable Community-Based Hip Surveillance for Children with Cerebral Palsy

Hip surveillance for children with cerebral palsy can significantly decrease the morbidity of hip displacement and maintain hip function. While hip surveillance programs have been effective in countries with centralized medical systems, application of hip surveillance guidelines to medical systems with less organization may require a more novel community-based approach. We have developed and preliminarily validated a free app called “HipScreen” (www.hipscreen.org) that contains information on hip surveillance adapted from the Australian Hip Surveillance Guidelines for Children with Cerebral Palsy 2014, protocols for proper radiograph acquisition, and a tool for measuring radiographs directly from the device screen. We aim to establish the validity of the app-based measurement of radiographs in users with experience in radiographic interpretation, and to demonstrate the effectiveness of a free online video-based tutorial to teach users without experience in radiographic interpretation to accurately interpret hip surveillance radiographs using the HipScreen app. With nearly 70% of the global population having access to a smartphone by 2020, a validated app for hip surveillance would allow hip surveillance to have global impact.


Shenandoah Robinson

JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY

Project Grant 2016
US$180,000
Making the Most of Mother Nature: Neonatal Combinatorial Therapy with Endogenous Neurorepair Agents

This proposal addresses the Cerebral Palsy Alliance’s mission to identify novel therapeutic strategies for rapid translation to children with CP. Given that many children with CP have sensorimotor and cognitive deficits, there is a need to study strategies that address both functional pillars. The combination of erythropoietin and melatonin proposed here is directly translatable, given that both agents are currently administered to children in lower doses. Both agents are safe for use in infants, and capitalize on endogenous central nervous system (CNS) repair mechanisms. Notably, due to inherent balances in signalling, exploitation of endogenous repair mechanisms is not likely to derail neurodevelopment programming in infants. This proposal will also yield high-impact data on the cause of cerebral palsy, including spinal mediation of selective motor control and spasticity, and cognitive deficits, and thus aligns with the Alliance’s strategic priorities. To minimize the impact of CP, motor and cognitive outcomes must be addressed. Thus, the goal of this preclinical investigation is to test the impact of complementary mechanisms of erythropoietin and melatonin on function (Aim1), molecular pathways (Aim2) and clinically-relevant biomarkers (Aim3) in a rigorous preclinical model, to pave the way for a phase II clinical trial in the next 4 years.


Jane Huggins

UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN

Project Grant 2016
US$180,000
Innovative Assessment of Receptive Language in People with Cerebral Palsy who are nonverbal: A Comparison of Eye-Gaze Interface and Brain-Computer Interface Test Administration Methods

People with neurodevelopmental conditions that include significant impairments in movement and speech are at high risk for comorbid cognitive impairments and learning disabilities. The motor and communication demands of standardized cognitive assessments make them inaccessible to people with the greatest need for accurate assessment. Misclassification of cognitive function for individuals with cerebral palsy (CP) can result in inadequate or inappropriate medical interventions or educational planning. Long-term negative consequences of underestimating capabilities or needs are incalculable. Eye-Gaze Interfaces (EGIs) and Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCIs) are assistive technology devices for individuals with CP that facilitate communication with limited or no volitional motor response demands. While both EGI and BCI create cognitive testing strategies requiring little or no physical ability, they differ in equipment and set-up, physical ability required, and access provided.

Therefore, this study will:

Aim 1: Compare BCI and EGI access methods to determine which method provides optimal accessibility for people with CP-related motor and speech impairments;

Aim 2: Determine whether individual characteristics, including oculomotor function and attention, predict PPVT-IV scores associated with each access method.

This study will contribute to the over-arching goal of universal assessment practices and to our understanding of the true cognitive capabilities of people with severe CP.


Zinaida Vexler

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA

Project Grant 2016
US$190,000
Mesenchymal stem cells-derived extracellular vesicles for repair after neonatal stroke

More than half of all children with cerebral palsy (CP) are born at term. Perinatal arterial ischemic stroke is a major cause of CP. There are no effective treatments. It is recognized that brain immaturity affects both injury and recovery after stroke and that future studies should be focused on enhancing brain repair, not acute protection. In an age-appropriate rat model of perinatal focal arterial stroke, we demonstrated that delayed administration of mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) improves long-term functional outcomes. A recently discovered conceptually novel principle of cell-cell communication, via release and uptake of extracellular vesicles (EV), has changed the perception of drug targets. EV signal by carrying/delivering cytokines/chemokines, miRNA, and growth factors. Therapeutic potential for MSC-derived EV in neonatal stroke is unknown. We hypothesize that MSC-derived EV carry long-term therapeutic effects after neonatal stroke.

Aim 1: using novel advanced technology (ImageStreamX) and mass-spectrometry, we will characterize EV and their cytokine and lipid “cargo”.

Aim 2: using a unique neonatal rodent arterial stroke model, we will examine long-term functional outcomes of administration of MSC-derived EV. We will use non-invasive DWI/T2W MRI to randomize injured pups and use longitudinal diffusion-tensor imaging (DTI) to characterize injury progression.


Donna Ferriero

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA

Project Grant 2016
US$180,000
Metabolomic identification of at risk newborns

Therapeutic hypothermia (TH), while being standard of care for hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), provides protection for only 60% of babies. The overarching hypothesis is that the metabolic state of the brain immediately after TH differs markedly between hypothermia responders and non-responders. Changes in intracellular “metabolic fingerprints”, or metabolomics, can identify tissues at risk for continued energy failure and injury. The newly developed Hyperpolarized carbon-13 (HP-13C) MRI offers the ability to detect metabolic changes in near real-time. Pre-clinical animal studies are still needed to determine and evaluate the physiological differences between adults and pediatric patients as well as varying disease conditions.

Our aim is to determine the metabolic profiles in vivo that correspond to improved functional and structural outcomes. This aim will be accomplished by measuring the metabolic fingerprints and correlating it with outcomes in early adulthood.

Significance: Neonatal brain injury is an important cause of cerebral palsy and disabilities. Therapies have classically targeted individual pathways during early phases of injury, but targeting pathways later in the injury response may be more effective. These advanced imaging studies will allow for early identification of babies at risk for cerebral palsy and this would pave the way for translational studies to prevent cerebral palsy.


Jane Huggins

UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN

Career Development Grant 2016
US$9,798
Smartphone App to Enable Community-Based Hip Surveillance for Children with Cerebral Palsy – Career Development Grant

This career development award will support Assistant Professor Huggins’ travel, as a brain-computer interface (BCI) researcher, to build collaborations with cerebral palsy (CP) researchers. The travel will create connections with CP researchers at the American Academy for Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine’s (AACPDM) Annual Meeting, Sept 12-16, 2017, in Montreal, Canada. Travel to the Cerebral Palsy Alliance in Sydney will coordinate with a successful Project Grant application to the Research Foundation of the Cerebral Palsy Alliance to compare BCI and eye-gaze. That visit will finalize data analysis and plan future collaborations on providing access to communication and cognitive assessment for people with CP.


Sarah McIntyre

CEREBRAL PALSY ALLIANCE

Project Grant 2016
$220,000 over 1 year
Does aetiology influence outcome of interventions following hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy?

Project Outline: We will systematically examine placentas, maternal obstetric records and maternal and infant blood samples of 300 infants enrolled into a randomized controlled trial. The trial (PAEAN) will compare therapeutic hypothermia (TH) and erythropoietin (TH+EPO) versus TH alone for newborns with clinically diagnosed HIE. The maternal aetiological findings will be linked to the PAEAN outcomes at two years of age to identify if different aetiologies influence the response to both TH and TH+EPO.


David Walker

MONASH UNIVERSITY

Project Grant 2016
$266,795 over 3 years
Does aetiology influence outcome of interventions following hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy?

Project Outline: Our extensive studies in pregnant laboratory animals (spiny mouse, sheep) lead us to propose that the incidence and severity of cerebral palsy can be dramatically reduced if women consume extra creatine during the latter stages of pregnancy. We will now study pregnant rhesus monkeys to show: (a) extra oral creatine results in creatine loading in the brain of neonates, and; (b) this simple intervention protects the neonate’s brain against oxygen starvation at birth. This primate study will also show that creatine supplementation is safe for the mother and baby, and will provide essential evidence justifying clinical trials in pregnant women.


Samanmali P Sumanasena Kularatne

CEREBRAL PALSY ALLIANCE

Project Grant 2016
$100,000
Establishment of the Sri Lankan Cerebral Palsy Register

The aim of this pilot study is to establish a Sri Lankan CP Register targeting two provinces of Sri Lanka, paving the way for a future national CP register. This pilot study will provide the first estimates of the prevalence, aetiology and clinical profile of children with CP in Sri Lanka. A dual surveillance system will be used to collect CP data through both hospital and community based surveillance in order to establish population-based estimates of CP. This data will be essential for identifying opportunities for primary and secondary prevention opportunities to improve the health outcomes for children with CP and their families in this region.


Katherine Benfer

THE UNIVERSITY OF QUEENSLAND

Project Grant 2016
$75,000
Community-based parent-delivered early detection and intervention for children at high risk of cerebral palsy in a low-resource setting: a randomised control trial

LEAP-CP (Learning through Everyday Activities with Parents) explores the effectiveness of early detection and intervention for infants at risk of cerebral palsy in low income countries. Infants will be screened using smart phone technology at 3 months of age, and be randomly assigned to one of two intervention groups; community-based parent-delivered intervention (enriched environments and nutritional support), or standard care (health advice). Children receiving the intervention are expected to have better performance on motor/cognitive outcomes at 18 months, and caregivers to have improved mental health, which have the potential to reduce the burden of disability in low-income settings.


Elise Davis

UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE

Project Grant 2016
$80,000
Successfully negotiating life challenges: Learnings from adults with cerebral palsy

The aim of this research is investigate how adults with cerebral palsy have successfully negotiated major challenges of adulthood, along with factors that have supported successful outcomes. In-depth interviews will be conducted with approximately 50 adults with cerebral palsy. Learning from people with cerebral palsy about what has worked for them will help to build a strong evidence base that can be drawn upon to help others. The results will be used to inform interventions/program/services to facilitate the successful participation of adults with cerebral palsy.


Frances Milat

HUDSON INSTITUTE OF MEDICAL RESEARCH

Project Grant 2016
$39,000
The optimisation of bone health in adolescents and adults with cerebral palsy

Thin, fragile bones are problematic for adults with cerebral palsy. Poor bone health is due to factors such as reduced activity, nutritional issues and reduced sex hormones. Thin bones tend to fracture even without trauma, causing pain and a further reduction in function. The aim of this study is to investigate the causes of thin bones in adults with cerebral palsy, to develop guidelines for health care professionals to optimise bone health, and to evaluate if medications can reduce the risk of broken bones. We want to develop a protocol for assessing and optimising bone mass early in adolescence when bones are still growing.


Caroline Crowther

UNIVERSITY OF AUCKLAND

STEPTEMBER Project Grant 2016
$83,400
Antenatal Magnesium Sulphate at 30-40 weeks’ gestation for fetal neuroprotection – The MAGENTA trial

Magnesium sulphate is recommended for women at risk of giving birth before 30 weeks’ gestation. Whether there are benefits at later gestations is uncertain. The MAGENTA Study is assessing whether magnesium sulphate given to women at risk of very preterm birth, between 30 to 34 weeks’ gestation, increases the chance of their baby surviving without cerebral palsy. If the results show benefit this would be of great importance to women at risk of very preterm birth, their children, the community, and would represent a very significant health benefit for Australia and New Zealand as well as having enormous relevance globally


Cheryl Jones

UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE

Project Grant 2016
$120,000
Early identification of clinical, diagnostic and genetic risk factors for CP from early life human parechovirus (HPeV) infection, a potentially ‘vaccine preventable cause of CP

Australia has experienced large outbreaks of a new virus, human parechovirus (HPeV) since 2013. It causes critical illness in young infants and sometimes brain damage. The long term effects are poorly understood, but are of concern. We have found that by 12 months, some infants develop CP and other developmental issues. We believe that HPeV may be an important, potentially preventable cause of CP. We have assembled the world’s largest group of HPeV survivors to investigate risks of CP from HPeV, and identify genetics and other risk predictors. This will inform treatment, follow up, early intervention, and prevention (e.g. vaccines).


Jozef Gecz

THE UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE

Project Grant 2016
$261,442
Multi-omics investigations of cerebral palsy causation in discordant monozygotic twins and singletons

“Identical” twins are often different. We’re studying 15 discordant pairs, one has cerebral palsy (CP), the other doesn’t. This can be due to either new genetic mutations or the environment during pregnancy, which impacted one twin and not the other. We shall look for genetic and environmental differences in these twins and then in a large CP cohort. This will tell us why some children are more likely to develop CP than others. It will give us a toolbox for early diagnosis facilitating early intervention or even prevention of CP, if a significant impact of environmental factors is revealed.


Maryam Oskoui

RESEARCH INSTITUTE OF THE MCGILL UNIVERSITY HEALTH CENTER

STEPTEMBER Project Grant 2016
$248,526
Genetic Insights into the Causes of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy (CP) is the most common cause of physical disability in children. We want to better understand how our genetic makeup leads to different forms of CP. We will study children and their parents who are participating in the Canadian CP Registry in Montreal and Toronto. From their blood, we will read all of their genetic information. This will help researchers to better understand what causes CP, to better counsel affected families and to find ways to prevent CP. Knowing what causes CP can one day help treat affected children.

In 2015/2016, our Grants Program awarded more than $4 million in project grants and career development grants to researchers across the globe, as well as people and infrastructure support.

A/Professor Adrian Barnett

Queensland University of Technology, Institute of Health & Biomedical Innovation

Project Grant 2015 $20,000 Title: Researching the impact of cerebral palsy research. This study will examine all research funding for Cerebral Palsy research in Australia during the last decade.

Greg Powell

Dr Greg Powell

JF Kapnek Trust, Harare. Zimbabwe

Project Grant 2015 $30,000 over 1 year Decreasing the incidence of cerebral palsy in Harare, Zimbabwe by preventing acute bilirubin encephalopathy Zimbabwe has an unacceptably high number of infants who develop cerebral palsy as a result of severe jaundice (52 cases per year compared with 7 in the United Kingdom). This form of cerebral palsy is preventable if effective treatment is instituted early. This grant will fund the purchase of bilirubinometers, which accurately measures levels of jaundice, and provide training to primary care nurses in the management of jaundice, to prevent jaundice-related cerebral palsy.

Dr Ana Aradhna Baburamani

Dr Ana Aradhna Baburamani

King’s College London

Project Grant 2015 $38,376 over 1 year Exploring mitochondrial targets for neuroprotection in neonatal hypoxia-ischemia Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE; restricted blood flow and oxygen to the brain during birth) occurs in 2-3 per 1000 term babies and is the leading cause of death and permanent, life-long disorders including cerebral palsy. A lack of oxygen ignites cell death processes, where the powerhouse of the cell, mitochondria, leak deadly proteins and this leads to devastating brain damage. This process takes place over hours to days suggesting that it is possible to treat and reduce injury. This project will determine what proteins are involved in initiating the cell death cascade in the brain, providing new targets for protection.

Ms Emily Shepherd (nee Bain)

Ms Emily Shepherd (nee Bain)

The University of Adelaide

Project Grant 2015 $23,542 over 2 years Neonatal and infant adverse effects of antenatal magnesium sulphate for improving outcomes for mothers and babies: a systematic review Antenatal magnesium sulphate therapy is commonly used in pregnancy to improve outcomes for mothers and their babies, including prior to very early birth to prevent cerebral palsy for children. The question remains, however, whether this therapy is also associated with unintended adverse effects (harms) for the child, in the newborn period or in infancy. This systematic review of the literature will answer this question, assessing whether there are harms, and if so, whether they vary by characteristics of the mother’s pregnancy and birth or the magnesium sulphate treatment that she received, so improving safety for the children.

Dr Angie Morrow

The Children’s Hospital at Westmead

Project Grant 2015 $100,000 over 2 years Chronic pain in cerebral palsy: A prevalence study and randomised controlled trial of biofeedback mediated relaxation via BrightHearts for the management of chronic pain in children and adolescents with cerebral palsy The first part of this study will establish the prevalence of pain, its impact on functioning, life participation and quality of life, contributing factors and pain management strategies used in children and adolescents with cerebral palsy who attend rehabilitation clinics of two tertiary children’s hospitals in NSW. It will then evaluate the effectiveness of the BrightHearts app, which is a relaxation app that responds to changes in heart rate, to assist children and adolescents with cerebral palsy manage ongoing pain. This will occur through an initial pilot involving 10 children, followed by a four week randomised trial involving 62 children.

Dr Hayley Dickinson

Dr Hayley Dickinson

Hudson Institute of Medical Research

Project Grant 2015 $230,000 over 3 years If creatine deficiency contributes to preterm brain injury, we have a simple intervention strategy to improve neurological outcomes for preterm babies Creatine is an essential component of nutrition, and it protects the brain from injury! Our recent studies in pregnant animals suggests that preterm infants will be unable to synthesize creatine, because the kidney and liver - the organs that produce nearly all the creatine for our body - are immature at an age equivalent to <35 weeks of human pregnancy. Therefore, we will determine what happens to creatine levels in the blood and brain of preterm infants, and establish if creatine should be added to the formulas used to provide nutrition during the crucial days and weeks after preterm birth.

Professor Mohammad Muhit

Professor Mohammad Muhit

Child Sight Foundation (CSF), Bangladesh

Project Grant 2015 $39,841 over 1 year Health related quality of life, including psychological and sexual wellbeing, of adolescents with cerebral palsy in rural Bangladesh and stress among their primary caregivers: Bangladesh CPQoL study This research will describe the quality of life, in relation to health and wellbeing of adolescents aged 13-18 years old with cerebral palsy living in a rural sub-district of Bangladesh. Information will be collected from adolescents with cerebral palsy and their primary caregivers. Using face-to-face questionnaires and interviews participants will be asked questions about their/ their adolescent’s physical, psychological, social, and sexual wellbeing. The primary care giver will also be asked question about their own wellbeing in relation to anxiety and stress. This information will be used to guide the provision of resources and services to improve the long-term wellbeing of this population. This research will be conducted using the existing infrastructure of the Bangladesh Cerebral Palsy Register (BCPR) project.

Dr Graeme Polglase

Dr Graeme Polglase

Hudson Institute of Medical Research

AVANT Project Grant 2015 $123,395 over 1 year Reducing brain injury by improving postnatal management of asphyxiated neonates at birth Birth is one of the most dangerous times of our lives. The initiation of breathing is critical for providing oxygen to our organs and stabilising the circulation at birth. Infants born asphyxiated (low in oxygen) have a compromised circulation, which predisposes them to increased brain injury upon clamping of the umbilical cord. This application aims to optimise the transition at birth in asphyxiated infants, by initiating breathing/respiratory support prior to umbilical cord clamping. We contend that this will improve circulatory stability and thus reduce brain injury in this vulnerable cohort.

Professor Jonathan Morris

Professor Jonathan Morris

University of Sydney

AVANT Project Grant 2015 $42,416 over 1 year Is exposure to tocolysis a risk factor for the development of cerebral palsy? A common intervention that is used to try and delay preterm labour may have long term complications including cerebral palsy. This study aims to determine whether measures taken to stop contractions are harmful, particularly when combined with antibiotics.

Associate Professor Catherine Elliott

Associate Professor Catherine Elliott

Curtin University

STEPTEMBER Project Grant 2015 $50,000 over 1 year Participate NOW: Optimizing participation for children with cerebral palsy and their families Participate NOW is an intervention aimed at increasing active leisure and sports participation for children with CP, guided by individual child and family participation goals. Barriers to participation are carefully investigated and targeted on an individualized basis through one of two site-specific interventions. Families will access a 12-week motivational physiotherapy intervention, in either a child-parent dyad with a therapist in QLD or in groups of 3-4 children in WA. These interventions will equip children with CP, their families and local service providers with the skills and resources they need to maximize the active leisure participation outcomes for children with CP.

Ms Arlene D’Silva

University of Western Sydney

Project Grant 2015 $14,940 over 1 year Identification of Post Translational Modifications of serum proteins that are Predictive for Preterm Birth This project will help to identify proteins circulating in the mother’s blood that are associated with preterm labour. Once these differences have been defined we will validate them in a second cohort of preterm births. The longer term plan is to assess these changes in serum taken from women at 12 weeks’ gestation, at a time when interventions can be made that will reduce the risk of subsequent preterm birth. Successful identification and validation of effective prognostic biomarkers will lead to paradigm shifts in clinical screening, prevention of preterm birth and of cerebral palsy in surviving infants.

Dr Bryan Leaw

Dr Bryan Leaw

Hudson Institute of Medical Research

Project Grant 2015 $141,890 over 2 years Assessment of human amnion cells in reducing long-term neurocognitive impairment Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), common in preterm infants, is associated with long-term impairment in learning and motor development, as well as brain disorders such as cerebral palsy. We have generated mice, which share clinical characteristics with human BPD. We will then treat these mice with human amnion epithelial cells (hAECs), a stem-cell-like population with which our lab leads in global research. Next, we will assess whether delivery of these cells to growing mice with BPD, can prevent long-term learning impairment in adulthood. This work will contribute greatly to pushing amnion cells into human clinical trials to treat preterm infants with BPD.

Ms Felicity Pidgeon

Ms Felicity Pidgeon

Office of Disability - Northern Territory Department of Health

Project Grant 2015 $12,984 over 1 year Participation of Indigenous Children with Disabilities in a Remote Northern Territory Community This study will investigate home and community participation of children with disabilities in a remote Northern Territory Indigenous community. Participants will include a number of children with Cerebral Palsy. Participating children and families will use iPads to collect photos and videos of typical daily activities that children are involved in, both at home in the community. This will be followed by in-depth discussions with participants, to explore the meaning and significance of footage collected. Research findings will be used to help improve the quality and relevance of allied health services for Indigenous children with disabilities in remote areas.

Associate Professor Margaret Wright

Associate Professor Margaret Wright

The University of Queensland

Project Grant 2015 $201,600 over 2 years “Imagine Cerebral Palsy” Genome and Connectome study Cerebral palsy arises from an early developmental brain insult. While some causes relate to altered blood flow, oxygen supply or infection to the immature brain, there are increasing links to genetic causes. There is limited knowledge about the relationship between the brain injury, genetics and outcome. A better understanding of the relationship between these factors will help us understand the nature, causal pathways and prospective outcomes of life long conditions like cerebral palsy.

Mr Xun Li

Mr Xun Li

University of Sydney

Project Grant 2015 $14,798 over 1 year The Mechanisms of Behavioral Problems in Cerebral Palsy Cerebral palsy not only affects coordination in a children, it also affects their behavior. There are a significant number of children with cerebral palsy whom have behavior or emotional problems. These problems have a significant adverse effect on their and their family’s quality of life. This project aims to understand what influences these behaviors. If understood, it can lead to interventions that can improve a child and their family’s well-being.

Professor David Winlaw

Professor David Winlaw

Heart Centre for Children, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead

STEPTEMBER Project Grant 2015 $125,000 over 1 year Comprehensive genetic analysis in neonates with congenital heart disease and associations with neurodevelopmental outcomes including autism, intellectual disability and cerebral palsy Up to 20% of infants who undergo major cardiac surgery will develop a neurodevelopmental disability (NDD) including developmental delay, intellectual disabilities and cerebral palsy. Patient-specific factors (such as gene changes) play an important role as there are many known genetic syndromes in which both cardiac and neurological problems occur. Using next generation sequencing technology this study will identify genes and pathways that may lead to the development of both congenital heart disease (CHD) and NDD. Use of gene panels will allow earlier identification of at-risk infants and earlier referral to intervention programs to maximize their full potential.

Professor Elizabeth Elliott

Professor Elizabeth Elliott

University of Sydney

Project Grant 2015 $19,525 over 2 years Hospital based-surveillance of cerebral palsy (CP) in Hanoi, Vietnam: a study towards developing national hospital based disease surveillance mechanism in Vietnam This study will have a number of immediate social and public health benefits: 1) We will identify children with CP from the participating hospitals in Hanoi, Vietnam; 2) This prospective surveillance will provide baseline data on the estimated incidence, prevalence and profile of children with cerebral palsy and, the aetiology and risk factors for CP in Hanoi, Vietnam; 3) This cohort could be used as a sampling frame for future research e.g. to intervention trials to evaluate cost-effective intervention strategies to promote functional abilities and limiting secondary impairments in children with CP; and 4) this study will help us to evaluate the strengths and limitations of a hospital based disease surveillance mechanism in Hanoi, Vietnam and utilize this experience to extend the surveillance to national level.

Mrs Shona Goldsmith

Shona Goldsmith

Cerebral Palsy Alliance, Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney

Project Grant 2015 $20,695 over 1 year An exploration of cerebral palsy aetiology: assisted reproductive technology and congenital anomalies The causes of cerebral palsy are not well understood. This project will explore the role of two known risk factors for cerebral palsy: assisted reproductive technology and congenital anomalies. We will analyse data from large groups of people with cerebral palsy in Australia, looking at their history and their outcomes. This will help us better understand the impact of assisted reproductive technology on CP, and the co-occurrence of congenital anomalies and cerebral palsy. This exploration in an essential early step toward finding ways to prevent cases of cerebral palsy.

Ms Barbara Lucas

Ms Barbara Lucas

The George Institute for Global Health

Career Development Grant 2015 $2,725 over 1 year Gross motor performance and prenatal alcohol exposure: effects and interventions This career development grant will support my attendance and presentation of my research at the Australasian Academy of Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine (AusACPDM) 8th Biennial Conference, 30th March – 2nd April 2016, Adelaide Convention Centre. The following two abstracts have been submitted for conference consideration: 1. Gross motor performance in primary school aged children living in high-risk drinking communities in remote Australia – a population based study. 2. Improving Gross Motor Performance in Children with Neurodevelopmental Disorders: a Meta-analysis.

Mr Xun Li

Mr Xun Li

University of Sydney

STEPTEMBER Career Development Grant / PhD Scholarship 2015 $75,000 over 1 year The Mechanisms of Behavioral Problems in Cerebral Palsy Cerebral palsy not only affects coordination in a children, it also affects their behavior. There are a significant number of children with cerebral palsy whom have behavior or emotional problems. These problems have a significant adverse effect on their and their family’s quality of life. This project aims to understand what influences these behaviors. If understood, it can lead to interventions that can improve a child and their family’s well-being.

Ms Hayley Smithers-Sheedy

Ms Hayley Smithers-Sheedy

Cerebral Palsy Alliance

Career Development Grant 2015 $10,500 over 1 year Children with CP in NSW/ACT – molecular testing for cytomegalovirus (CMV) on stored newborn screening cards. Plain English: The stored blood-spot study Here we aim to test the newborn screening cards (NBSC) of children with CP recruited from the NSW/ACT CP Registers, for cytomegalovirus (CMV) DNA, to determine whether these children had cytomegalovirus at the time of their birth. We will determine the number and proportion of CP cases identified with CMV DNA. We will describe this group of children with CP and cytomegalovirus, and examine whether cases of severe CP (spastic quadriplegia) are overrepresented amongst children with cytomegalovirus, as has been previously hypothesized. Lastly we will compare the reporting of congenital CMV to the CP registers with the NBSC test results.

Centre of Research Excellence in Cerebral Palsy (CRE-CP)

Centre of Research Excellence in Cerebral Palsy (CRE-CP)

Murdoch Children’s Research Institute

Career Development Grant $100,000 over 1 year Future Research Leaders of Cerebral Palsy Research The Centre of Research Excellence in Cerebral Palsy and Cerebral Palsy Alliance are committed to fostering the development of the next generation of leaders in cerebral palsy. As part of this commitment, a number of promising future leaders are participating in a Leadership Group as a professional development program. The key outcomes for the program are: • To promote a peer support network • To facilitate the sharing of knowledge • To support leadership development What does the program offer? • An opportunity to attend regular leadership forums with other participants and guest speakers • An opportunity to receive regular mentoring from a successful leader • An opportunity to receive support to set and implement a personalised leadership development plan • An opportunity to learn more about cerebral palsy and the disability sector by networking and developing relationships with other researchers across Australia Places in the program for 2016 have been filled after a very competitive selection process. Congratulations to the 12 participants who will be building the skills and the network to help them become ambassadors and leaders in the field of childhood disability. Website: http://www.cre-cp.org.au/initiatives/future-leaders-of-research/

In 2014/2015, our Grants Program awarded more than $3 million in research grants and career development awards to researchers across the globe.

Dr Suzie Miller

Dr Suzie Miller

Monash University, Hudson Institute of Medical Research

Project Grant 2014 $134,722 over 1 year Does postnatal administration of amnion epithelial cells (AECs) improve the structure and function of the neurovascular unit in preterm IUGR lambs? We propose that preterm birth and ventilation causes instability of blood vessels within the intrauterine growth restricted (IUGR) brain, due to an adverse reaction of the brain’s astrocytes. When the astrocytes become activated, they lose their ability to structurally support blood vessels, allowing inflammatory cells to infiltrate the brain via leaky blood vessels, and causing white matter injury. Administration of amnion epithelial stem cells soon after preterm birth will prevent astrocyte reactivity and brain injury in IUGR preterm infants.

Dr Beth Allison

Dr Beth Allison

Monash University, Hudson Institute of Medical Research

Project Grant 2014 $199,584 over 2 years Do the cardiovascular differences in growth restricted infants, underlie brain and systemic morbidities: A possible new avenue to improve therapies? Intrauterine growth restricted (IUGR) preterm infants have an increased risk of death and long-term disease. Growth restriction alters cardiovascular function in utero as an adaptation to persisting suboptimal conditions (e.g. hypoxia). Little or no data details how sustained cardiovascular changes in utero impact on cardiovascular function in the newborn period. We contend that adverse cardiovascular and vascular development fundamentally changes the cardiovascular system and therefore clinical management of IUGR infants needs to be altered to reflect an altered cardiovascular system.

Emily Bain

Ms Emily Bain

The University of Adelaide

Project Grant 2014 $22,000 over 2 years Interventions during the antenatal and neonatal period to prevent cerebral palsy: an overview of Cochrane systematic reviews For almost 95% of individuals with cerebral palsy, damage to their brain occurred prior to their birth or in the 28 days after they were born (the neonatal period). Therefore, developing and assessing strategies (in pregnancy and the neonatal period) to prevent cerebral palsy is extremely important. This project aims to summarise all evidence from Cochrane systematic reviews on the effects of pregnancy and neonatal interventions for cerebral palsy prevention, and will assist in determining promising strategies for the future.

Anna Penn

Associate Professor Anna Penn

Children's National Medical Center, Washington DC

Project Grant 2014 $249,853 over 3 years Protection and repair of preterm cerebellum by allopregnanolone This project combines clinical and scientific research aimed at developing new evidence-based strategies to prevent brain injury leading to cerebral palsy (CP) in premature infants.

Tamara Yawno

Dr Tamara Yawno

Monash University, Hudson Institute of Medical Research

Project Grant 2014 $251,550 over 3 years Ganaxolone: A new treatment for neonatal seizures Around 1 in 10 Australian newborns have fits each year and lack of oxygen is the most common cause. They can be difficult to identify and it is unclear what is the best treatment. They occur in the babies with the worst injury. This project will use a sheep model of premature injury from low oxygen to examine a new treatment, ganaxolone, as a treatment for neonatal seizures.

Deborah Thorpe

Associate Professor Deborah Thorpe

The University of North Carolina

Project Grant 2014 $100,000 over 2 years Testing novel measures of community function and participation in adults with cerebral palsy This project investigates the relationship between GPS measures of community integration, accessibility, and function for adults with CP in Australia and the US. Participants will use accelerometers to measure activity intensity and GPS trackers to capture amount of time away from home, distance travelled, and locations visited for seven days. GIS technology will integrate GPS travel data to create maps of activity locations. Qualitative interviews will assess the importance of and experience of activities and barriers to integration for adults with CP.

Manon Benders

Dr Manon Benders

Wilhelmina Children’s Hospital Utrecht, The Netherlands

Project Grant 2014 $241,450 over 3 years Reduction of Brain damage after Perinatal arterial ischemic stroke with recombinant human Erythropoeitin (rhEPO) PAIS has been associated with adverse outcome in affected neonates, most often unilateral spastic cerebral palsy and is therefore a serious problem. In several experimental studies and in one adult study with stroke patients, EPO reduced adverse outcomes. Moreover, neonatal EPO treatment is considered safe. We aim to investigate in neonates with MRI confirmed PAIS whether or not (early) treatment with rhEPO will improve short term (measured by using advanced MRI techniques), and long-term motor/ cognitive outcome.

Cally Tann

Dr Cally Tann

University College London Hospital

Project Grant 2014 $28,060 over 2 years Developing an early intervention programme for infants affected by newborn brain injury in Uganda The proposed study aims to develop and pilot a low-cost, early intervention rehabilitation programme to improve the health, participation and quality of life of children and their families affected by birth asphyxia in Uganda.

Koa Whittingham

Dr Koa Whittingham

The University of Queensland

Project Grant 2014 $150,000 over 2 years Parenting Acceptance and Commitment Therapy ‘PACT’: innovative, web-based support for families of children with Cerebral Palsy Our aim is to test the efficacy of an innovative and translatable family support package: Parenting Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (PACT) for families of young children with CP. We predict that PACT will have benefits to parent, child and family functioning by leveraging the understanding, skills and the day to day interactions within the family system. PACT is consistent with the philosophy of family-centred care and, if effective, could be used to empower parents of children with CP worldwide.

Leanne Johnston

Dr Leanne Johnston

Student: Ms Rosalee Dewar

The University of Queensland

Project Grant 2014 (Doctoral Research Scholarship) $83,484 over 3 years Children’s Motor Control Research Collaborative (CMCRC): EXCITE program Aim: Characterise postural control dysfunction in school-aged children with CP and develop an effective and engaging exercise intervention that enhances function and promotes life-long participation. Progress & Plan: A collaborative research program has been developed with expertise from Allied Health, Medicine, Population Health and Telerehabilitation. Assessment Phase: Validity & reproducibility of postural control assessment for adolescents with CP Intervention Phase: Efficacy of postural control exercise for adolescents with CP

Alicia Spittle

Dr Alicia Spittle

Murdoch Childrens Research Institute

IMPACT for CP Macquarie Group Grant $129,090 over 3 years The feasibility of smart-phones in the early detection of cerebral palsy This grant will develop a smart-phone application (app) that can be used to assess the quality of infants’ movements using the General Movements assessment, the most valid and reliable method for detecting infants at risk of cerebral palsy (CP) in the first 3 months of life. We will test the feasibility of the app in approximately 500 children born preterm or with hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy.

Hannah Glass

Associate Professor Hannah Glass

The University of California, San Francisco

IMPACT for CP Macquarie Group Grant $200,000 over 4 years Improving Early Identification of CP in Term Neonates Using Magnetic Resonance Imaging and General Movements Assessment Cerebral palsy (CP) can be identified and treated early in infancy, however the diagnosis is usually not made until late in the 2nd year of life. The aim of this proposal is to determine the accuracy of MRI and the General Movements Assessment for early identification of CP, as well as pattern and severity of disability among high risk term infants. Early identification will allow implementation of interventional therapies at a time of high brain plasticity, and alter the developmental trajectory.

Gulam Khandaker

Dr Gulam Khandaker

The Children's Hospital at Westmead

Career Development Grant $48,700 over 2 years This grant will enable Dr Khandaker to link NSW Cerebral Palsy Register data (all cerebral palsy cases registered in NSW between 2001 and 2011) with the existing birth cohort from NSW to define the aetiology, risk factors and outcomes of children with cerebral palsy related to CNS infections. The grant will provide further training in data linkage, allowing him to carry out innovative research on infectious causes of childhood disability including cerebral palsy.

Mary Tolcos

Dr Mary Tolcos

Monash University, Hudson Institute of Medical Research

Career Development Grant $50,000 over 1 year Dr Mary Tolcos’ ambition is to make a significant contribution to the understanding of the neurodevelopmental processes that underlie brain injury and contribute to cerebral palsy with the explicit intention to devise, assess and implement safe, effective and novel therapeutic strategies. This grant will enable her to undertake fundamental research to make the scientific discoveries necessary for clinical translation and preclinical studies using novel therapeutic strategies.

Hayley Dickinson

Dr Hayley Dickinson

Monash University, Hudson Institute of Medical Research

Career Development Grant $160,000 over 2 years Dr Hayley Dickinson’s research is aimed at saving babies lives and reducing the long-term burden (health, emotional and economic) of major perinatal conditions such as birth asphyxia, preterm birth and growth restriction. She is uniquely placed to carry out this research, using the research tools she has developed to deliver real outcomes that will change clinical practice. This grant will assist in the implementation of a clinical trial to test the effectiveness of maternal creatine supplementation to protect human newborns from tissue injury late in gestation and enable her to translate her research outcomes in to better care of the unborn baby and newborn infant.

David Walker

Associate Professor David Walker

Monash University, Hudson Institute of Medical Research

CPARA 2014 Distinguished Researcher Award / Career Development Grant $100,000 over 2 years Associate Professor David Walker’s research is overwhelmingly aimed at preventing the occurrence of brain injury in late gestation, at birth, and in the immediate postnatal period to reduce the long-term burdens for the child and family that arise either from poor fetal growth, being born too soon, oxygen deprivation at birth, or during the difficult process of neonatal resuscitation. This grant will provide for the continuation of important projects such as ‘creatine as a prophylactic treatment to obviate or prevent hypoxic-ischaemic brain damage at birth’, ‘activated Protein C as a postnatal therapy to limit hypoxic-ischaemic damage and promote repair of the damaged newborn brain’, ‘thyroid hormone analogues to promote the development of white matter and myelination in the preterm brain and growth-retarded brain after birth’ and ‘use of minocycline and related drugs to suppress microglial activation after hypoxia and infection- induced brain damage’.

Gulam Khandaker

Child Sight Foundation, Bangladesh

$30,000 over 1 year BANGLADESH CEREBRAL PALSY REGISTER The aim is to establish and host the Bangladesh CP Register by utilising the available infrastructure from the Australian Cerebral Palsy Register. This register will facilitate future studies on prevalence, severity, aetiology, associated impairments and risk factors for CP in Bangladesh.

NHMRC  Co-Funded Grants:

Flora Wong

Dr Flora Wong

Monash University

$102,942 over 4 years (50% funding) NHMRC Career Development Fellowship – Clinical (Part-Time 50%) - Co-Funded by Cerebral Palsy Alliance Project Title: Fetal and neonatal therapy to improve perinatal outcome and long-term neurodevelopment

Mrs Emma Grace

Flinders University

$38,144 over 3 years (50% funding) NHMRC Postgraduate Scholarship (Full-Time) - Co-Funded by Cerebral Palsy Alliance Project Title: Participation in online conversations by young people with disabilities who are non-speaking: Does e-mentoring work?

In 2013/2014, our Grants Program awarded more than $3 million in research grants and career development awards to researchers across the globe.

Dr Graeme Polglase

Dr Graeme Polglase

Monash University

Steptember Research Grant $200,000 over 2 years This study will investigate the impact of early erythropoietin for neuroprotection in ventilated preterm infants. It follows Dr Polglase's earlier research into reducing cerebral palsy by improving immediate resuscitation at preterm delivery.

Professor Roslyn Boyd

Professor Roslyn Boyd

The University of QLD

Innovative Research Grant $135,000 over 2 years Using advanced brain imaging and an early assessment toolbox, Professor Boyd and the Prediction of Preterm Motor Outcomes team will assess the possibilities of predicting early motor and neurodevelopmental outcomes for babies born preterm.

Dr Tamara Yawno

Dr Tamara Yawno

Monash University

Innovative Research Grant $60,000 This study will investigate the protective effects of Progesterone, a naturally occuring hormone, as a potential treatment for the growth restricted foetus.

Dr Lee Barber

Dr Lee Barber

The University of QLD

Avant Innovative Research Grant $195,000 over 3 years This grant will allow Dr Barber to conduct a randomised controlled trial of the impact of the first botulinum toxin type-A treatment on muscle structure and function in children with cerebral palsy.

Professor Caroline Crowther

Professor Caroline Crowther

The University of Adelaide

Avant Innovative Research Grant $250,000 over 5 years This study will look at identifying biomarkers of brain injury and inflammation in perinatal hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy.

Emeritus Professor Alastair MacLennan

Emeritus Professor Alastair MacLennan

University of Adelaide

Innovative Research Grant $800,000 E/Professor MacLennan and his team have established the Australian Cerebral Palsy Biobank to collect and analyse the DNA and clinical data from children with cerebral palsy and their parents to research the genetic causes of cerebral palsy. To date early data has shown that genetic causes contribute to cerebral palsy more than previously realised.

Dr Glen Lichtwark

Dr Glen Lichtwark

University of QLD

Career Development Grant $25,000 Glen will use this grant to advance the development of computer simulations so that his team can potentially predict how changes to the musculoskeletal system (e.g. surgery, strength training, functional electrical stimulation) might improve muscle function during tasks like walking.

Dr Suzie Miller

Dr Suzie Miller

University of QLD

Career Development Grant $50,000 This Career Development Grant will assist Dr Suzie Miller with progressing and promoting her research program translating basic science discovery into clinical therapies to prevent and treat perinatal brain injury.

Dr Cally Tann

Dr Cally Tann

University College London

Career Development Grant $25,000 Investigating the causes, timing, outcomes and possible strategies to prevent cerebral palsy resulting from neonatal encephalopathy.

A/Professor Eve Blair

A/Professor Eve Blair

Telethon Institute for Child Health Research

Distinguished Researcher Award $10,000 Eve Blair is an eminent scientist in the field of cerebral palsy aetiology. This award acknowledges her significant contributions to the field. It will enable her to travel and continue to collaborate with other leading researchers throughout the world.

Dr Rebecca Pelekanos

Dr Rebecca Pelekanos

University of Queensland

Innovative Research Grant $145,000 over 2 years Dr Pelekanos' study will investigate the effectiveness of stem cell therapy to repair white matter injury and prevent cerebral palsy.

Dr Clare van Eyk

Dr Clare van Eyk

The University of Adelaide

Avant Innovative Research Grant $298,996 over 2 years Dr van Eyk’s study aims to define the role of genetic variations as a causal pathway to cerebral palsy.

Dr Bobbi Fleiss

King's College London

Innovative Research Grant $61,456 over 2 years This project will examine how genetic micro-regulators of inflammation can stimulate brain regeneration.

Dr An Massaro

Children’s National Medical Center

Innovative Research Grant $120,000 over 2 years This study will look at identifying biomarkers of brain injury and inflammation in perinatal hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy.

Dr Lachlan Thompson

University of Melbourne VIC

Avant Innovative Research Grant $108,471 This research project explores the capacity for stem cells to provide therapeutic benefit in an animal model of neonatal brain damage. The stem cells will be used to grow neurons (‘brain’ cells) in the laboratory which are transplanted to the site of injury in a rat with neonatal brain damage. Preliminary results in adult rats suggest this approach has the capacity to both protect the brain against further damage as well as provide new brain circuitry that can restore function.

Dr Alexander Hoon

John Hopkins University School of Medicine

Steptember Research Grant $57,200 Quantitative Mapping of the Basal Ganglia and Related Structure In Children with Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy.

Professor Nigel Paneth

Michigan State University

Distinguished Researcher Award $50,000 This award will help Nigel with his ongoing investigations of the differences in gene expression in blood shortly after birth between children later diagnosed with cerebral palsy and children without cerebral palsy.

Six projects received over $500K in funding, seeking answers into the cure and prevention of cerebral palsy.

Yvonne Wu

Dr Yvonne Wu

The Regents of The University Of California, on behalf of its San Francisco campus, USA

Innovative Research Grant $50,000 Neonatal Erythropoietin and therapeutic Hypothermia - 2 (NEAT 2)

Mary Tolcos

Dr Mary Tolcos

Monash University

Innovative Research Grant $80,968 Identifying regulatory and therapeutic target in perinatal white matter injury following intrauterine growth restriction

Nick Evans

Associate Professor Nick Evans

Sydney Local Health Network at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Camperdown NSW 2050

Innovative Research Grant $58,300 over 2 years Neuro-developmental Outcomes of severe Neonatal Jaundice in Australia

Cally Tann

Dr Cally Tan

University College London

Innovative Research Grant $35,513 AUD over 2 years Early neurodevelopmental outcomes and cerebral palsy after neonatal encephalopathy in Uganda: an assessment of the role of perinatal infection/inflammation

Hayley Dickinson

Dr Hayley Dickinson

Monash University

Innovative Research Grant $100,000 over 2 years Creatine, a multi-organ protectant against hypoxic injury in the neonate

Dinnah Reddihough

Professor Dinah Reddihough

Murdoch Children’s Research Institute

Innovative Research Grant $200,000 over 2 years Preliminary investigations of the therapeutic potential of human umbilical cord blood stem cells in cerebral palsy
Micah Perez

Micah Perez

School of Medicine, The University of Queensland

Doctoral Research Scholarship 2011 $45,000 Balnaves Foundation Title: Effect of Infant Hand Observation Training on the Early Development of Hand Reaching and Grasping in healthy Infants and those with early brain injury.

Flora Wong

Flora Wong

The Ritchie Centre, Monash Institute of Medical Research

Career Development Grant 2011 $40,000 Title: Clinical and experimental research for neonatal brain injury.

Cathy Morgan

Cathy Morgan

Doctoral Research Scholarship

$116,564 Balnaves Foundation Title: Optimising the motor outcomes of infants with cerebral palsy using environmental and goal oriented interventions.

Rod Hunt

Rod Hunt

Murdoch Children's Research Institute

Career Development Grant 2011 $100,000 Grevillea Foundation Title: Investigating Acute Mechanisms and Long Term Neurodevelopmental Impact of Peri-natal Brain Injury.

CP Register -NSW ACT

Australian CP Register

Cerebral Palsy Alliance

Innovative Research Grant 2011 $150,000 Click here for the register.
Caroline Crowther

Professor Caroline Crowther - South Australia

The University of Adelaide

Avant Innovative Research Grant $250,000 over 3 years Antenatal magnesium sulphate prior to preterm birth for neuro-protection of the fetus, infant and child: implementation strategies for the national clinical practice guidelines and surveillance Babies born early (less than 30 weeks of gestation) are at high risk of dying in the first weeks of life or later having cerebral palsy. New research evidence shows that giving mothers magnesium sulphate immediately prior to an early birth significantly increases the chances of the baby surviving without cerebral palsy. Professor Caroline Crowther (Director of the Australian Research Centre for Health of Women and Babies (ARCH), Robinson Institute, the University of Adelaide) is heading a team of researchers from ARCH (Philippa Middleton and Tanya Bubner), the University of Sydney (Professor Jonathan Morris) and the Mater Medical Research Institute in Queensland (Associate Professor Vicki Flenady) to track the use of magnesium sulphate and to ensure that it is used optimally to improve the health of babies born early. The project called WISH (Working to Improve Survival and Health for babies born very preterm) will run across Australia for the next three years.

Graeme Polglase

Dr Graeme Polglase - Victoria

Monash University

Avant Innovative Research Grant $151,185 over 2 years Reducing cerebral palsy by improving immediate resuscitation at preterm delivery In Australia, approximately 8% of babies are born preterm (30,000 babies per year) and these infants account for 75% of all neonatal deaths. Many of the smallest preterm babies now survive. However, they are at high risk of suffering physical and neurological consequences that lead to life-long disabilities including cerebral palsy. Prematurity is fast becoming one of the biggest contributors to the cerebral palsy rate in Australia. The incidence of preterm birth has increased 36% in the past 25 years (March of Dimes) and although improved care has reduced mortality rates, this has occurred at the cost of increased morbidity. Brain injury, particularly damage to the brain’s white matter and peri/intraventricular haemorrhage, are the most common neuropathologies observed in very premature infants. The incidence and severity of these types of injury increase with decreasing gestational age and birth weight. The underlying causes of brain injury are likely to be multi-factorial, but early respiratory care of the preterm infant may contribute to brain injury. In Australia in 2007, at least 7.2% of all babies (i.e. over 21,000) received assistance establishing breathing by the application of positive pressure respiration, using a bag and facemask or after endotracheal intubation. However, the initiation of this respiratory care is not easily monitored in the preterm infant and recent studies from The Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne found that many preterm infants are inadvertently exposed to large, potentially damaging breaths. High breath volumes result in lung injury and impaired lung blood flow, which in turn leads to haemodynamic disturbance and changes in brain blood flow. Brain haemorrhage and a systemic inflammatory cascade may lead to white matter brain injury, and is linked to these brain blood flow changes. Our group is investigating whether the use of gentler ventilation strategies in the immediate post birth period will protect preterm lambs from brain injury. Our aim is to provide information regarding safer and less injurious strategies for the initial breathing support of preterm infants. We hypothesise that prevention or reduction of disturbances in blood flow, and reducing inflammation caused by injurious resuscitation techniques, will reduce the incidence and severity of cerebral palsy in our vulnerable preterm population.

Sarah McIntyre

Sarah McIntyre

Cerebral Palsy Alliance

Doctoral Research Scholarship 2011 $144,967  Star Scientific Title: Causal pathways to cerebral palsy in term and near-term singletons: Analysis of a total population case control study .

Nick Evans

Clinical Associate Professor Nick Evans - New South Wales

Department of Newborn Care, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital

Innovative Research Grant $50,000 Neuro-developmental outcomes of severe neonatal jaundice in Australia Jaundice affecting newborn babies, if severe, can cause cerebral palsy and deafness. Severe jaundice in the newborn period is often preventable and when necessary, easily treated. Previous Avant Innovative Research Grant Recipient in 2009, Clinical Associate Professor Nick Evans and colleagues from the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney are carrying out the first nationwide survey of paediatricians through the Australian Paediatric Surveillance Unit (APSU). The awarding of this additional grant in 2010 will allow Nick and his team to ascertain how many children in Australia are affected. They hope to establish the contributory factors leading to disability and design strategies that will reduce the number of children and families whose lives may be devastated by this. Nick is Head of the Department of Newborn Care at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and the University of Sydney. He is also chair of the NSW Perinatal Services Network NICU Managers Committee and on the executive of the Australian and New Zealand Neonatal Network.

Tamara Yawno

Dr Tamara Yawno - Victoria

The Ritchie Centre, Monash institute of Medical Research

Innovative Research Grant $50,000 Novel cell based therapy for cerebral palsy Dr Tamara Yawno is a Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists Research Fellow working at The Ritchie Centre, Monash Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne. She is studying the potential clinical use of novel stem cells in the treatment of cerebral palsy. Tamara is investigating whether human amnion epithelial cells, harvested from the placenta after delivery of the baby, can reduce brain inflammation and injury sustained in late pregnancy and at delivery that is associated with cerebral palsy. Tamara is working with a team of dedicated scientists and clinicians who have shown that these amnion derived cells have reparative properties similar to those of embryonic stem cells. Since they are obtained from tissues that are normally discarded at birth, they are not subject to ethical issues associated with their derivation. The team has shown that these cells can be safely administered in animal models of disease, have anti inflammatory and reparative properties and can differentiate into brain and lung cells. Over the last five years Tamara has worked closely with Dr Suzie Miller, Professor Graham Jenkin and Professor Euan Wallace to harness amnion epithelial cells for therapeutic applications, including treatment of lungs of babies born prematurely and brains of babies who suffer from oxygen deprivation (hypoxia) in late gestation and at delivery. The grant will allow Dr Yawno to investigate whether amnion epithelial cell will reduce inflammation, protect against brain injury and will differentiate into brain cells following administration in animal models of cerebral palsy.

Dr Paul Colditz - Queensland

University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research

Innovative Research Grant $50,000 Ischaemia as a causal pathway to cerebral palsy in the preterm baby: advances in prognostication, treatment and prevention Babies born very preterm are at high risk of cerebral palsy. About 40% of all children with cerebral palsy are born very preterm. Professor Colditz and his team will undertake a study in babies using innovative methodologies to determine whether a critical reduction in blood flow to the brain is the cause of cerebral palsy. Knowing the role low blood flow to the brain plays in causing cerebral palsy will help to (i) predict which babies will have a disability, (ii) identify which babies may benefit from very early interventions and (iii) identify rational approaches to prevention of cerebral palsy. Paul’s established multidisciplinary, experienced research team will use new research tools (MR compatible incubator, MR sequences and processing, high density EEG and signal processing) unique in Australia.

Kei Lui

Associate Professor Kei Lui - New South Wales

University of New South Wales

Balnaves Foundation Doctoral Research Scholarship $81,000 over 3 years Preventing cerebral palsy- the impact of therapeutic hypothermia in neo-natal encephalopathy in Australia It is now clear that perinatal hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy (HIE) often referred to as lack of oxygen at birth, is a major cause of death and disability in babies born at term or close to term. Professor Kei Lui is Head of Newborn Care at the Royal Hospital for Women in Randwick NSW and he is leading a PhD project to evaluate the long-term outcomes for survivors of HIE. Professor Lui and his doctoral student will compare and determine whether therapeutic hypothermia can reduce cerebral injury and improve neurological outcomes for babies born with HIE.

Dr Natasha Lannin - New South Wales

Rehabilitation Studies Unit, Royal Rehabilitation Centre Sydney

Balnaves Foundation Doctoral Research Scholarship $155,576 over 4 years Developing a framework for accelerating neuro-protection clinical trials in infants with or at risk of cerebral palsy The aim of this post-doctoral fellowship project is to develop an Australian Cerebral Palsy Collaboration to promote and support high quality research in the area of cerebral palsy, in order to improve the health and wellbeing of children with cerebral palsy and their families. The Collaboration will enhance Australian cerebral palsy research capacity by increasing collaborative working within the Australian cerebral palsy research community, improving links with academic and commercial funders, and removing barriers to cerebral palsy research in Australia

Paediatric Movement Analysis Service- New South Wales

The Children’s Hospital at Westmead

Innovative Research Grant $60,000 The Children’s Hospital at Westmead will use the grant to support the operating of the Paediatric Movement Analysis Service.
Catherine Gibson

Dr Catherine Gibson

University of Adelaide – South Australia

JUSTIN GALLAGHER POST DOCTORAL RESEARCH SCHOLARSHIP $87,431 Infections, genetics and prevention of cerebral palsy Doctors used to think that children born with cerebral palsy must have had difficult births. But new research suggests other factors may be important, such as a genetic susceptibility to infections during pregnancy, and a genetic susceptibility to problems with blood clotting. This research project, led by Dr Catherine Gibson, will take that new research further. She hopes to learn more about infections and genetics, seeking a path to prevention of cerebral palsy. She will be using newborn umbilical cord blood samples from cerebral palsy and non-cerebral palsy infants from around Australia looking for evidence of viral infection during pregnancy. Dr Catherine Gibson was a recipient of a Research Foundation of Cerebral Palsy Alliance 2006 Trust Innovative Research Grant of $40,000 over two years. She is a young researcher with the University of Adelaide. Her research into the causes of cerebral palsy, which was the subject of her PhD thesis, attracted many awards and invitations to speak at international conferences. She is now continuing her post doctoral studies in the area of viruses and genetics and has been awarded a Research Foundation of Cerebral Palsy Alliance, 2009 The Gallagher Foundation / Paint a Rainbow Foundation Post Doctoral Research Scholarship of $76,931 over 3 years.

THE HENRY J COWAN GRADUATE SCHOLARSHIPS

Supports up to three students a year to the amount of $1500 per student, to pursue studies and encourage careers in the field of disability. Physiotherapy: Emma Wilczek - University of Sydney, NSW Occupational Therapy: Jessica Westover - University of Sydney, NSW Speech Pathology: Berna Gurisik – University of Sydney, NSW

Nick Evans

Clinical Associate Professor Nick Evans

Royal Prince Alfred Hospital – Sydney, NSW

AVANT INNOVATIVE RESEARCH GRANTS $33,000 over three years Severe Newborn Jaundice and Cerebral Palsy Some children who develop cerebral palsy have had severe jaundice at birth or very soon after. International research shows that severe jaundice is becoming more common in many parts of the world. Is it so in Australia? Nobody knows. Clinical Associate Professor Nick Evans and colleagues from the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney are carrying out the first nationwide survey of paediatricians through the Australian Paediatric Surveillance Unit (APSU). The study hopes to find out if there is an opportunity to prevent some children from developing cerebral palsy. Nick is Head of the Department of Newborn Care at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and the University of Sydney. He is also chair of the NSW Perinatal Services Network NICU Managers Committee and on the executive of the Australian and New Zealand Neonatal Network.

Slastair MacLennan

Professor Alastair MacLennan AO

University of Adelaide Women's & Children's Hospital North Adelaide – Adelaide, South Australia.

AVANT INNOVATIVE RESEARCH GRANTS $145,900 Genes and Cerebral Palsy There is almost certainly not one single gene that causes cerebral palsy. However, genes play an important role in human development as well as in making us susceptible to infections, inflammation, and poor oxygen supply early in life. How we react to the latter may be as a result of our genes. Professor Alastair MacLennan and colleagues are carrying out research involving children with cerebral palsy and their families. They are carrying out genetic analyses of samples of saliva and checking them against very comprehensive medical records. They hope to make connections between health of children with cerebral palsy and their genes. Professor Alastair MacLennan is head of obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of Adelaide, and head of the South Australian Cerebral Palsy Research Group. His research interest lies in the apparent links between faulty genes and factors in the child’s environment, such as poor fetal growth and infections in the womb.

Mary Tolcos

Dr Mary Tolcos

The University of Melbourne

AVANT INNOVATIVE RESEARCH GRANTS $284,882 over two years Preventing brain damage to prevent cerebral palsy Some women develop infections in the lining of the uterus when pregnant. Some of those women become unwell due to this, while others do not. It seems the inflammation caused by these infections is harmful to developing babies. Such inflammation before birth probably contributes to some children developing cerebral palsy after birth. Being able to prevent brain damage is one of the major challenges of research into the early years of life. Dr Mary Tolcos and colleagues from the University of Melbourne will use animal models to study erythropoietin, or EPO, which is a naturally occurring hormone being closely examined for a range of potential uses. This research hopes to help prevent some children being born with cerebral palsy. Mary is a medical researcher with the University of Melbourne. Her particular interest and expertise lies in examining what happens to the developing brain when it suffers potential harm from things like infections or poor blood supply.

David Walker

Associate Professor David Walker

Monash University - Melbourne, Victoria

$137,040 over two years AVANT INNOVATIVE RESEARCH GRANTS Preventing brain damage to prevent cerebral palsy The steady supply of oxygen throughout pregnancy is critical for the growth and development of a foetus. Recent research suggests that a poor oxygen supply at times during pregnancy can lead to particular problems with the blood vessels in the baby’s developing brain. Associate Professor David Walker is researching whether the amino acid creatine can help prevent some of the damage to blood vessels in the brain caused by low oxygen. If the research is successful, it will be one step along the way towards preventing some forms of brain damage in children, which is very important in efforts to prevent cerebral palsy. David is Associate Professor in the Department of Physiology at Monash University, Melbourne. He is interested in fundamental questions like how the brain develops, how we sleep and wake, and how the brain regulates the heart and cardiovascular system. He is also interested in applying this research to diseases and conditions affecting the brain in an attempt to understand how these conditions come about, and how they may be prevented.

Yvonne Wu

Dr Yvonne Wu

The regents of the University of California, San Francisco campus, USA

INNOVATIVE RESEARCH GRANTS $155,310 over two years Genetic basis of cerebral palsy in term and near term infants Associate Professor Yvonne Wu and colleagues from the University of California, San Francisco are examining the genetic makeup of a large group of children with cerebral palsy. They will choose 12 genes which seem to be important in causing inflammation and problems with blood clotting, and see whether they are associated with cerebral palsy. They will perform a detailed analysis of a gene known as the interleukin-6 gene, which research suggests might be important in the development of cerebral palsy and try to match particular brain abnormalities, as seen in CT scans and MRIs, and with particular genetic traits.

Slastair MacLennan

Professor Alastair MacLennan AO

University of Adelaide

INNOVATIVE RESEARCH GRANTS $600,000 over three years A genomic basis for cerebral palsy: studies on a large Australian cohort Genes play an important role in human development and they also play a role in making us susceptible to things like infections, inflammation, and poor oxygen supply early in life. However, we don’t all react in the same way to infections. It may be our genes that makes the difference. Alastair MacLennan and colleagues are carrying out research involving children with cerebral palsy and their families. They are carrying out genetic analyses of samples of saliva and checking them against very comprehensive medical records. They hope to make connections between health of children with cerebral palsy and their genes.

Henry Chambers

Dr Henry Chambers

The Regents of the University of California, San Diego, USA

INNOVATIVE RESEARCH GRANTS $10,000 One World CP Website development A website devoted to linking professional organisations and their members, epidemiologists and grassroot organisations to improve communication and foster cooperation in research and effect policy and funding changes in countries throughout the world.

John Gilroy

Centre for Disability Studies, Sydney

DOCTORAL RESEARCH SCHOLARSHIP

Alicia Spittle

Alicia Spittle

Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Melbourne

POST DOCTORAL RESEARCH FELLOWSHIPS $116,450 Development and prevention in cerebral palsy A child born prematurely is about 50 times more likely to develop cerebral palsy as a child born at full term. There are many reasons for this – some known and others unknown. Dr Alicia Spittle is carrying out research with the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute of Victoria to look at two important questions arising from this observation. The first question relates to how the brain of a child born very prematurely develops. What are the differences between the brain development of those children who develop cerebral palsy and those who don’t? Dr Spittle will be looking at MRI scans and developmental testing of children at various ages to see what she can learn. The second question asks: can early intervention make a difference to the motor development of premature children? If children born prematurely receive intensive support, does it make them less likely to develop cerebral palsy? Or if they do develop it, are their difficulties with walking and coordination less severe? Dr Alicia Spittle is now continuing her post doctoral studies and has been awarded a Research Foundation of Cerebral Palsy Alliance, 2009 Grevillea Career Development / The Bulls and Bears Researcher Post Doctoral Scholarship of $116,450 over 3 years.
Dr Suzie Miller

Dr Suzanne Miller

Monash University – Melbourne, Victoria

CEREBRAL PALSY FOUNDATION INNOVATIVE RESEARCH $82,154 over one year Melatonin and prevention of cerebral palsy All treatments for cerebral palsy involve treating the child after birth. Wouldn’t it be good to have a treatment before birth? A treatment that could avert, or reduce, the permanent damage to the baby’s brain? Dr Suzanne Miller and colleagues are using sheep’s brains to see whether or not melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone, can reduce the brain damage caused by infections before birth. This is preliminary research from which Dr Miller hopes to learn enough to see whether, and how, melatonin could be trialled with humans. Research Foundation of Cerebral Palsy Alliance, 2008 Innovative Research Grant recipient: $82,154 over one year. Other sources of funding: National Health and Medical Research Council. Suzanne Miller works at Monash University, Melbourne, where she is a senior research officer in the Department of Physiology. Her main interest is in the growth and wellbeing of the foetus before birth. She has worked in London as well as Melbourne.

Dinnah Reddihough

Associate Professor Dinah Reddihough AO

Royal Children’s Hospital – Melbourne, Victoria

CEREBRAL PALSY FOUNDATION INNOVATIVE RESEARCH $145,000 over three years Brain scans for greater understanding of cerebral palsy Different children with cerebral palsy have different brain injuries. Associate Professor Dinah Reddihough and colleagues will carry out MRIs, which are a sophisticated form of brain scan, on 800 children with cerebral palsy. This will help them understand which brain injuries cause which problems. This information will be useful for many researchers and clinicians around the world in their efforts to prevent and treat cerebral palsy. Research Foundation of Cerebral Palsy Alliance, 2008 Innovative Research Grant recipient: $145,375 over three years. Dinah Reddihough AO is a paediatrician and director of developmental medicine at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. She has worked for more than 15 years to improve the care of children with disabilities, including cerebral palsy. Her research has looked at many aspects of disability, including causes, treatments and outcomes of care. She became an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2005.

Dr Jacques-Olivier Coq

Dr Jacques-Olivier Coq

National Centre for Scientific Research, University of Marseille, France and USA

INTERNATIONAL CEREBRAL PALSY FOUNDATION INNOVATIVE RESEARCH $100,000 over three years Greater understanding of cerebral palsy Much medical research depends on understanding how the body works. One way of approaching this is to study animals such as rats, rabbits and sheep, then to apply that knowledge to humans. Dr Jacques-Olivier Coq and colleagues plan to create conditions very similar to cerebral palsy in laboratory animals. If they do this, it will greatly help them, and other researchers around the world, in many aspects of cerebral palsy. It would help with understanding causes, with providing treatment and, ultimately, with prevention of cerebral palsy. Research Foundation of Cerebral Palsy Alliance, 2008 Innovative Research Grant recipient: $100,000 over three years. Jacques-Olivier Coq is associate researcher at the National Centre for Scientific Research in Marseille, France. He works mainly with animals, studying the effects of neurological conditions such as stroke and cerebral palsy.

Geroge Mendz

Professor George Mendz

The University of Notre Dame – Sydney, New South Wales

CEREBRAL PALSY FOUNDATION INNOVATIVE RESEARCH $55,550 over one year Bacterial infections and prevention of cerebral palsy About 10 per cent of babies around the world are born prematurely, and these babies have a higher than average chance of having cerebral palsy. Why? That is not known, but one thing is clear – the mothers of some of these babies will have had bacterial infections in their uterus. Professor George Mendz and his team will examine the bacteria found in 60 mothers and babies. They hope to discover which bacteria are associated with premature births and possibly, which ones are associated with cerebral palsy. They hope this will lead, down the track, to the prevention of some premature births, and the prevention of cerebral palsy for some babies. George Mendz is Professor of Medicine at the University of Notre Dame Australia, Sydney. A microbiologist by training, his laboratory work aims to understand the bacteria that live in the gut. Outside the laboratory, he works to broaden the education of university students and to awaken their social responsibilities. He has worked in Puerto Rico and Spain as well as Australia.
CP Register -NSW ACT

NSW CEREBRAL PALSY REGISTER

Research Institute of Cerebral Palsy Alliance

$150,000 Sydney, New South Wales The Australian Cerebral Palsy Register, launched by Professor Fiona Stanley AC, is a confidential research data base of information about people with cerebral palsy (CP). The main aims of the Cerebral Palsy Register are to: Monitor the incidence and prevalence of cerebral palsy Assist in the planning of services for children and adults who have CP Gain further understanding about the causes of cerebral palsy Evaluate preventative strategies Provide an essential data source for preventative research. The Research Institute of Cerebral Palsy Alliance is the custodian of the Australian CP Register.

Enrico Coiera

Professor Enrico Coiera

Centre for Health Informatics, University of NSW – Sydney, New South Wales

CEREBRAL PALSY FOUNDATION INNOVATIVE RESEARCH $120,000 over three years Using computers to sort the pieces of the cerebral palsy puzzle Researchers around the world are finding new pieces in the puzzle that is cerebral palsy. But it can be very hard to keep all the pieces of the puzzle in mind while researchers are working through their own small piece of it. Professor Enrico Coiera and colleagues are working to develop computer systems that are powerful enough, and simple enough, for researchers to use, saving time and effort globally. Ideally, these computer systems would be able to pull together data from many different published researcher projects, cerebral palsy registers and databases. Then, by asking the right questions, new answers concerning the causes of cerebral palsy may appear. This research project is unique in the world of cerebral palsy. Professor Enrico Coiera is Director of the Centre for Health Informatics at the University of New South Wales. The Centre is the largest, longest-running and most successful academic research group in this new field of applying computer science and technology to health care.

Slastair MacLennan

Professor Alastair MacLennan

The University of Adelaide; Women's & Children's Hospital North Adelaide – Adelaide, South Australia

CEREBRAL PALSY FOUNDATION INNOVATIVE RESEARCH $115,000 over two years Searching for causes of cerebral palsy The causes of cerebral palsy are not yet known. Previous theories about difficult births have been shown to be inaccurate in most cases. Much work needs to be done to understand why some children, and not others, develop cerebral palsy. Professor Alastair McLennan and colleagues from the South Australian Cerebral Palsy Research Group have been searching for the causes of cerebral palsy for some time. They have analysed a large number of births details from the South Australian Cerebral Palsy Register and made many significant discoveries. These include, for example, the link between Factor V abnormalities and quadriplegia in children born before 32 weeks gestation. This research project continues that work, but with an important extra step. They will also look at the health and genetic backgrounds of the mothers of children born with cerebral palsy, which will allow an even greater level of understanding. Professor Alastair MacLennan is Head of obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of Adelaide, and Head of the South Australian Cerebral Palsy Research Group. Professor MacLennan’s research interest lies in the apparent links between faulty genes and factors in the child’s environment, such as poor foetal growth and infections in the womb.

Liora Ballin

Liora Ballin

University of Sydney – Sydney, NSW

HENRY H ROTH FOUNDATION SCHOLARSHIP – NHMRC CO-FUNDED $40,500 over three years Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Training with experienced AAC users as volunteer AAC therapy aides This doctoral research identifies important aspects of an AAC training program; observes clinical sessions; develops and implements a training program for experienced AAC users to be volunteer therapy aides; develops and implements AAC training with new users paired with experienced users.

Abbey Eeles

Abbey Eeles

University of Melbourne – Melbourne, Victoria

SUNDELL FOUNDATION RESEARCH GRANT– NHMRC CO-FUNDED $40,500 over three years Sensory outcomes and profiles over the first two years for infants born less than 30 weeks' gestation The sensory experiences preterm infants encounter early in life lay the foundations for future neurodevelopment. While the literature suggests that sensory experiences have an impact on development little is known about the development of sensory functioning in early childhood or the extent to which sensory profiles/outcomes affect the neuro behavioural outcomes of this vulnerable population. This doctoral research aims to examine this relationship and provide direction for future practices.

Sarah Love

Sarah Love

Princess Margaret Hospital, Perth – Western Australia

CEREBRAL PALSY FOUNDATION INNOVATIVE RESEARCH $25,000 over one year Different types of cerebral palsy - towards different types of prevention and treatment? There are different sub-types of cerebral palsy – spastic, ataxic and so on. It is possible that some of these sub-types might actually be the result of different conditions, with different causes. But it is hard for researchers to work this out, because there is no strong agreement about what constitutes one sub-type of cerebral palsy, and what constitutes another. Sarah Love and colleagues have taken a very important step back to look at the big picture. They are working to gain agreement on the different sub-types of cerebral palsy. Once that happens, researchers will hopefully find it much easier to look for causes of cerebral palsy and the path towards prevention and treatment will be clearer. Sarah Love is a physiotherapist at Princess Margaret Hospital in Perth. Sarah Love is considered an Australian expert in the assessment of people with cerebral palsy. She is a highly respected teacher, and is a keen collaborator with the Australian Cerebral Palsy Register network. The Australian Cerebral Palsy Register was established in 2007 is a comprehensive database collecting information about individual with cerebral palsy who are born or reside in Australia.
Eve Blair

Associate Professor Eve Blair

Telethon Institute for Child Health Research - Western Australia

CEREBRAL PALSY FOUNDATION INNOVATIVE RESEARCH $80,000 over two years Searching for the causes of cerebral palsy The causes of cerebral palsy are not known. One way to search for the causes is to analyse the records of a large group people with cerebral palsy, and see what factors are common to them that are less common in people without cerebral palsy. Dr Eve Blair and colleagues are doing just that. They are searching through the Western Australian Cerebral Palsy Register, which has records on about 740 people with cerebral palsy who were born between 1980 and 1995. They can compare the records of these people with those in the population who are similar in many ways, but don’t have cerebral palsy. It’s an early step, but a vital one towards getting a clearer understanding of what causes cerebral palsy. She has been researching the causes of cerebral palsy for more than 25 years. Dr Eve Blair is Adjunct Associate Professor at the Centre for Child Health, University of Western Australia, and Senior Research Fellow at the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research.

Catherine Gibson

Dr Catherine Gibson

Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology University of Adelaide - Adelaide, South Australia

TRUST RESEARCHER GRANT $40,000 over two years Infections, genetics and prevention of cerebral palsy Doctors used to think that children born with cerebral palsy must have had difficult births. But new research suggests other factors may be important, such as a genetic susceptibility to infections during pregnancy, and a genetic susceptibility to problems with blood clotting. This research project, led by Dr Catherine Gibson, will take that new research further. She hopes to learn more about infections and genetics, seeking a path to prevention of cerebral palsy. She will be using newborn umbilical cord blood samples from cerebral palsy and non-cerebral palsy infants from around Australia looking for evidence of viral infection during pregnancy. Her research into the causes of cerebral palsy, which was the subject of her PhD thesis, attracted many awards and invitations to speak at international conferences. She is now continuing her post doctoral studies in the area of viruses and genetics.

Lex Doyle

Professor Lex Doyle

Murdoch Children’s Research Institute – Melbourne, Victoria

CEREBRAL PALSY FOUNDATION INNOVATIVE RESEARCH $40,000 over one year Preventing cerebral palsy among premature babies We know that a proportion of the very small or premature babies born each year will go on to develop cerebral palsy, and other such babies will develop other forms of neurological damage. This means they could have problems with thinking, or seeing, or hearing, or perhaps walking. Professor Lex Doyle and colleagues carried out a large research project involving a series of home visits by physiotherapists and psychologists to the homes of some of these very small or very premature babies. The visits aimed to improve the skills of the parents in dealing with the challenges they may face in caring for such susceptible infants. The project hoped to show that early intervention will reduce the likelihood of problems with thinking, vision, movement or hearing occurring. Professor Lex Doyle is a neonatal paediatrician with the Royal Women’s Hospital and the University of Melbourne. Professor Lex Doyle has a long term interest in the on-going development of premature babies, and has been editor of the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health.

Margaret Wallen

Margaret Wallen

The Children’s Hospital Westmead – Sydney, NSW

ALLERGAN DOCTORAL RESEARCH GRANT $100,000 over three years Modified constraint-induced therapy for children with cerebral palsy: A randomised trial This research will compare two occupational therapy interventions for children with hemiplegic CP to identify which intervention improves the function of a child’s arm and hand the most.

Carol Maher

Carol Maher

University of South Australia - South Australia

DOCTORAL RESEARCH SCHOLARSHIP $10,000 over one year The internet to get adolescents with cerebral palsy active? Are you kidding? Physical activity is good for everybody. But physical activity can be difficult for adolescents with cerebral palsy – time, opportunity, physical limitations and supportive peer groups are all issues. Carol Maher investigated whether the internet can help promote physical activity. Can web-based programs improve adolescents’ knowledge of the many benefits of getting moving? Can they improve adolescents’ confidence in their ability to be active? Can they change adolescents’ behaviour? Can they improve adolescents’ fitness? It may sound strange, but these are questions well worth asking – the benefits would be enormous. Carol Maher is a paediatric physiotherapist who is doing her PhD with the University of South Australia and also works with Novita Children’s Services in Adelaide.

_Adrienne Harvey

Adrienne Harvey

Murdoch Children’s Research Institute - Victoria

DOCTORAL RESEARCH SCHOLARSHIP – NHMRC CO-FUNDED $13,500 over one year The development, reliability and validity of the Functional Mobility Scale for children with cerebral palsy This research will validate a new tool (Functional Mobility Scale) that is used to measure functional mobility for children with cerebral palsy before and after intervention.

Christine Imms

Christine Imms

Murdoch Children’s Research Institute - Victoria

DOCTORAL RESEARCH SCHOLARSHIP – NHMRC CO-FUNDED $13,500 over one year Diversity of participation in children with cerebral palsy: The middle years. This research aims to follow children with cerebral palsy through significant life-stage transitions and identify their participation levels in activities outside school.

Megan Thorley

Megan Thorley

Royal Children's Hospital – Brisbane, Queensland

EMERGING RESEARCHER GRANT $10,000 over one year Plaster cast to improve life for children with cerebral palsy Casting is a procedure in which a child with cerebral palsy wears a plaster cast for a period. The aim is to lengthen tight muscles so joints become more flexible. While casting is common, there is little research into its effectiveness. Megan Thorley and her colleagues’ research involved putting a series of plaster casts on approximately 66 children with restricted elbow movement. A number of different protocols were followed and were compared to see which is the most effective. This research project has the potential to greatly improve the care of children with cerebral palsy, with improvements to their quality of life. Megan Thorley is an occupational therapist working in Brisbane, Queensland who has extensive experience working with children with cerebral palsy. Megan completed her Masters degree by research at the University of Sydney.