There is no single cause of cerebral palsy – which means there could be many ways to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure cerebral palsy. To help us ‘join the dots’ on such a complex condition, we have a team of researchers from many disciplines whose expertise, experience and dedication are helping us find the answers as quickly as possible.

Professor Nadia Badawi AM

Medical Director and Co-Head, Grace Centre for Newborn Intensive Care
The Children’s Hospital at Westmead
CP Alliance Chair of Cerebral Palsy Research, The University of Sydney

Professor Badawi AM is an internationally recognised neonatologist with extensive experience working in the field of cerebral palsy.

In 2009 Cerebral Palsy Alliance appointed Professor Badawi as Australia’s first Chair of Cerebral Palsy to oversee projects funded by the Research Foundation. The position has been funded by the Macquarie Group Foundation and the Commonwealth Government.

» Read Nadia’s full profile

Professor Iona Novak


Professor Iona Novak is the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Chair of Allied Health, The University of Sydney, Australia. Iona is a Fulbright Scholar establishing “Xcellerate” – an American-Australian Cerebral Palsy Stem Cell Research Consortium that pools collective efforts to find a cure.

Driven by an internal belief that research and healthcare has the potential to change lives, Iona has pursued projects and roles with the greatest possible impact on children and families, including, co-founding the Australian Cerebral Palsy Register, and developing clinical practice guidelines to diagnose cerebral palsy early, define best practice early intervention and interventions to improve independence.

Dr Sarah McIntyre


Qualifications: BAppSc (Occupational Therapy) (Hons), MPS, PhD

Sarah is a Senior Research Fellow, and is the Leader of the Epidemiology Theme of the Research Institute, Cerebral Palsy Alliance. She manages the NSW/ACT Cerebral Palsy Register, and is the current Chair of the Australian Cerebral Palsy Register. She is a perinatal and paediatric epidemiologist who has worked in the cerebral palsy field for over 15 years. Her current work focuses on analysing and reporting trends based off the CP Registers, investigating aetiology and prevention opportunities for cerebral palsy and neonatal encephalopathy, with a particular emphasis on congenital anomalies. Sarah is also the Co-Chair and Research Lead for CP Quest: Community and Researchers together.

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Professor Alistair McEwan


Professor Alistair McEwan is the Ainsworth Chair of Technology and Innovation at Cerebral Palsy Alliance and University of Sydney, Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies. He is the Theme Leader for Biomedical Devices and Instrumentation and helps lead the Australian Research Council Training Centre for Innovative Bioengineering.

Professor McEwan is passionate about engineering technology innovation to solve problems of real clinical need. His research focuses on harnessing advancing technology and innovation to accelerate the search for new and improved treatments and interventions for childhood disabilities and illnesses.

Professor McEwan is now identifying priority areas and engaging more engineers to help address technology challenges. With teams in engineering and health he is investigating improved methods of mobility and communication for people living with cerebral palsy, using the latest available technologies. For example, he is looking at how we can assist movement using bionics, robotics and artificial intelligence to help people with cerebral palsy stay better connected to their communities.

Professor McEwan was the first recipient of the Microsoft Future Fellowship Award in Australia due to his interest in adapting discoveries in new computer engineering to healthcare. He was previously an Action Medical Research Scholar at University College London, a Marie Curie Research Fellow with Philips Research Germany where he working on neurosurgical imaging technologies and a British Council Overseas Scholar at the University of Oxford.

» Read Alistair’s full profile

Dr Petra Karlsson


Qualifications: BAppSc (OT), MSc (OT), PhD

Dr Karlsson is passionate about finding novel ways to use assistive technology and engineering technology to improve communication and participation opportunities in children and adults with cerebral palsy. Her research focuses on multidisciplinary research approaches to advancing technology and innovation to support communication, cognitive assessment and functioning in daily activities for individuals with cerebral palsy. Her training is in occupational therapy, disability and assistive technology.

Dr Karlsson is a Senior Research Fellow at the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute and affiliated with University of Sydney. In addition to her research within the assistive technology field, she coordinates and supports the establishment, maintenance and execution of research within the CP Check-Up™ program; an active surveillance program that utilizes a variety of assessments to collect information across many aspects of a person’s life including physical status, functional abilities, cognitive abilities, health and well-being.

Dr Karlsson is also a visiting scholar at Holland Bloorview Research Institute, Canada working on development of novel ways of using assistive technology to support communication.

Dr Cathy Morgan


Qualifications: BAppSc (Physiotherapy), PhD

Cathy has been working as a physiotherapist specialising in cerebral palsy for over 10 years, and from 2012 as a researcher at the Research Institute of Cerebral Palsy Alliance. In 2016, Cathy was awarded her PhD from The University of Notre Dame Australia.

Cathy’s current research focuses on early detection and motor learning interventions for infants at high risk of developing cerebral palsy. Cathy is passionate about translating cerebral palsy early detection research into practice. She works with a network of clinicians across NSW to train and support implementation of gold-standard testing (Prechtl’s General Movements Assessment, the Hammersmith Infant Neurological Examination) for the early detection of cerebral palsy in infants.

Dr Hayley Smithers-Sheedy


Qualifications: BAppSc (Sp Path), MPH, PhD

Dr Hayley Smithers-Sheedy is an NHMRC Early Career Fellow with the Sydney Medical School, The University of Sydney and Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Epidemiology, Australasian Cerebral Palsy Clinical Trials Network. She has expertise in epidemiology, congenital infection, neurodevelopmental disability and consumer involvement in research. She plays a key role in her work with both the Australian Cerebral Palsy Register, the Australasian congenital Cytomegalovirus Register and is a member of the International Cerebral Palsy Genomics Consortium.

Current projects:

  • Development of a continuing professional development e-learning module for midwives focused on opportunities for the prevention of cytomegalovirus infection during pregnancy
  • Establishment of the Australasian congenital Cytomegalovirus Register
  • Data linkage study: congenital cytomegalovirus hospital admissions and mortality, NSW
  • Understanding Emotions and Cerebral Palsy
  • A pilot study of the PEERS® Social Skills Intervention in Young Adults with Developmental Disability and Social Skills Difficulties in Australia
  • Research focused on opportunities for prevention of cerebral palsy and improved outcomes in Australian
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children through the examination of sociodemographic and clinical profiles (in partnership with the ACPR Group)
  • Multiple investigations considering temporal trends in rates of cerebral palsy by gestational age and timing of injury (in partnership with the ACPR Group)
  • Investigator on the Sri Lankan Cerebral Palsy Register and the Bangladesh Cerebral Palsy Register

Dr Megan Finch-Edmondson


Qualifications: BSc (Hons), PhD

In her role as Stem Cell Research Fellow at the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute, Dr Megan Finch-Edmondson is responsible for building capacity and accelerating research translation in stem cell research for cerebral palsy in Australia. This is through identifying and securing funding for stem cell research, in particular clinical trials, facilitating collaboration between researchers, both nationally and internationally, championing consumer engagement activities for the stem cell research program, and identifying novel research directions in the field of stem cell therapy for cerebral palsy.

Dr Finch-Edmondson’s background is in cell biology, with a particular focus on signaling pathways and their contribution to stem cell biology and cancer. After being awarded her PhD from The University of Western Australia in 2015, she spent two-and-a-half years working as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in Singapore, before joining the Research Institute in October 2017.

Dr Maria Mc Namara


Dr Maria Mc Namara is the Senior Manager for Business Operations at the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute, based at the Brain and Mind Centre, The University of Sydney.

Maria is responsible for the operational effectiveness of the research team, including the delivery of a diverse range of research projects aimed at prevention, treatment and cure of Cerebral Palsy. Maria has a PhD in Occupational Health (University of New South Wales) and a background in Organisational Psychology (University College Dublin).

Maria’s post-doctoral research fellowship at The University of Sydney focused on ageing workers and subsequently precarious employment. Her work examined the relationships between working conditions in organisations and individual and organisational outcomes (e.g. mental and physical health, job satisfaction, turnover). Maria has also worked in clinical trials in stroke research. She is particularly interested in knowledge translation of evidence based practice.

Shona Goldsmith


Qualifications: BPhty (Hons), PhD

Shona joined the Research Institute in 2008, having worked as a physiotherapist with Cerebral Palsy Alliance and in various hospital and community settings. She works with the NSW/ACT Cerebral Palsy Register, and is a member of the Australian Cerebral Palsy Register group.

Shona is passionate about better understanding the causes of CP, in order to identify opportunities for prevention. Her work uses total population datasets, data linkages, and international collaboration. She is currently focusing on the role of congenital anomalies, assisted reproductive technology, and multiple birth in pathways to CP.

Dr Ingrid Honan


Qualifications: Bpsych (Hons), MClinNeuroPsych, PhD

Ingrid is a Research Fellow and Registered Psychologist at the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute, based at the Brain and Mind Centre, The University of Sydney.

Ingrid co-ordinates the development of an Australia and New Zealand Cerebral Palsy Strategy, aiming to provide a united advocacy voice for people with cerebral palsy, their families and professionals working in the field across Australia and New Zealand.

Ingrid is also involved in a number of research projects in which psychological assessment or constructs are incorporated, such as accessible neuropsychological assessments, social skills, mechanisms of behaviour, and quality of life. Ingrid completed her PhD in paediatric neuropsychology at Macquarie University in 2018.

Isabelle Baldé


Isabelle is a Research Project Coordinator at the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute, University of Sydney. Isabelle is a member of the NSW/ACT CP Register Advisory board and coordinates the opt-off project for the NSW/ACT CP Register. Isabelle is supporting cerebral palsy researchers with ethics applications, recruitment and screening of participants, and assisted with establishing, and now coordinates the research consumer group CP Quest.

Isabelle is also working as a Research Assistant for ‘the friends project’ a randomised controlled trial of the PEERS program to improve social skills for teenagers with cerebral palsy and acquired brain injury, coordinating the implementation of the NSW arm of the JOOAY App. This application aims to promote community-based recreation among children and young people with disabilities to improve their health and wellbeing.

Yana Wilson


Qualifications: BAppSc (Hons), MSc, MIPH, PhD (Candidate)

In 2016, Yana Wilson joined the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute as a Research Officer. Her main research interests are investigating genetic variation that contribute to cerebral palsy and other neurodevelopmental disorders, and harmonisation, standardisation and management of big data assets.

Yana is a founding member and Governance Council member of the International Cerebral Palsy Genomics Consortium (ICPGC), and leads the development of the CP Commons, a global genome-phenome data platform where researchers and clinicians can share de-identified genomic, clinical, neuroimaging and biometric data.

In 2017, Yana became a Governance Committee member of the International Cerebral Palsy Genomics Consortium, and is working on the development of the ICPGC’s data sharing platform, the CP Commons that will manage, store and share the de-identified clinical and genetic data from various teams around the world that are involved in the consortium.

Dr Madison Paton


Qualifications: BSc (Hons), PhD

Madison’s main roles at the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute include helping coordinate stem cell trials, securing trial and research funding, managing data and providing research support.

Madison began working in the field of cerebral palsy research in 2013. She submitted her PhD in Translational Research in 2018 on stem cell therapies for preterm brain injury at Monash University. She joined the team at the Cerebral Palsy Alliance in September 2018, where she is passionate about supporting ground-breaking clinical trials. Her research interests include investigating new interventions, particularly stem cell therapies, and neuroprotection and neuroregeneration options for those at risk of disability.

Key projects she is currently focusing on include amnion epithelial cells for preterm neuroprotection, and neural stem cells for babies with cerebral palsy.

Anna te Velde


Qualifications: BAppSc (Physiotherapy) (Hons), PhD Candidate (Enrolled)

Anna has worked as a clinical physiotherapist with the Cerebral Palsy Alliance since 2009, and in 2018 joined the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute as a Research Therapist. In this role Anna is responsible for completing therapies as a part of clinical trials on which the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute is a participating site including GAME, HABIT-ILE and Participate-CP.

Anna’s primary work will be locally co-ordinating the study Understanding the Early Natural History of Cerebral Palsy: A Prospective Cohort Study, as a part of an NHMRC funded Partnership Projects Grant. Anna also works as a physiotherapist on the Early Diagnosis Clinic at Cerebral Palsy Alliance which provides a targeted diagnostic service aimed at the early identification of cerebral palsy in infants. Anna has been a member of the NSW/ACT CP Register Advisory Committee since 2017. In 2018,

Anna started her PhD candidature at The University of Sydney, School of Medicine. Anna has a specialised interest in the assessment and description of cerebral palsy and her work is aimed at identifying early markers which predict later motor severity, motor type and topography in infants with or at high risk of cerebral palsy.

Dr Ashleigh Hines


Qualifications: BAppSc (Occupational Therapy) (Hons), PhD

Ashleigh is an Occupational Therapist, who works at Cerebral Palsy Alliance in the research team, and in the Lifepoints services team. Ashleigh completed her PhD through the University of Sydney in 2018. Ashleigh’s PhD focused on a magic themed approach to intensive upper limb therapy for children with unilateral cerebral palsy. Ashleigh’s interests include therapeutic interventions that encourage skill development, confidence and autonomy for children with cerebral palsy.

Emma Stanton


Qualifications: BAppSc (Occupational Therapy)

Emma joined the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute as a Research Therapist in July 2018, her background is in occupational therapy. In this role, she is responsible for completing therapies as a part of clinical trials in which the Research Institute is a participating site this includes GAME, HABIT-ILE, Participate-CP, and Visible. She is passionate about research into new interventions and bridging the gap between research and clinical practice.

Kath Swinburn


Qualifications: BAppSc (Sp Path), MPH

Katherine started working at the Cerebral Palsy Alliance in 2003 as a Speech Pathologist and Clinical Services Manager. Currently she has a position at the Research Institute as the Ethics Manager, where she coordinates the CPA Human Research Ethics Committee, and as a Research Officer, working primarily on an e-learning module about congenital CMV for midwives.

Emma Waight


Qualifications: BappPH, MPhil (Enrolled)

Emma joined the Research Institute in November 2017 as a Research Assistant. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Public Health. Emma is a member of the Australian Cerebral Palsy Register (ACPR) Group and assists in the maintenance of the ACPR and CP Check-up databases. Furthermore, Emma’s responsibilities include data cleaning, administrative support and assisting in the development of the Australasian Congenital Cytomegalovirus Register.

Notably, Emma worked on the 2018 Australian Cerebral Palsy Register Report which identified a decline in the prevalence of cerebral palsy in Australia between 1995 and 2012. Emma’s area of research interest is post-neonatally acquired cerebral palsy and she is undertaking a research qualification focusing on this topic.

Natasha Garrity

Natasha Garrity


Natasha graduated from high-school in 2018, volunteered as a research assistant at the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute and is now enrolled at Macquarie University. She is also an ambassador for the Cerebral Palsy Research Foundation and an active member of CP Quest, and a member of the NSW/ACT CP Register Advisory board. Natasha is interested in becoming a health researcher with a focus on cerebral palsy prevention and treatment.

Natasha is currently working as a casual research assistant to develop the content and implement the ACT/NSW arm of the JOOAY App in Australia. This application aims to promote community-based recreation activities for children and adults living with a disability to improve their health and wellbeing.