$1.3M grant awarded to CQU researcher to study Cerebral Palsy in children

14 September 2021

CQUniversity Adjunct Professor and Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service (CQHHS) Director of Public Health' Dr Gulam Khandaker has been awarded a $1.3 million National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Investigator Grant to study epidemiology' early detection and intervention for children with Cerebral Palsy (CP) in low-and-middle-income countries (LMIC).

CP is the leading cause of childhood disability with an estimated 50 million people affected globally' however the majority of children with CP living in LMICs do not receive timely diagnosis and intervention.

Dr Khandaker's research will be a collaboration between CQUniversity' CQHHS' Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute and Sydney Global Child Health Network (University of Sydney).

"This research represents a major Australia-led drive in global Cerebral Palsy research and has the potential to transform the lives of millions of children globally'" Dr Khandaker said.

"Approximately 85 per cent of all children with CP live in LMICs' however less than 5 per cent receive timely diagnosis and intervention contributing to lifelong burden of the disease'" he explained.

"The epidemiology and risk factors for CP in these countries are poorly understood' however' it is believed that the majority of cases are from potentially preventable causes."

Dr Khandaker said that the five-year Investigator Grant would see global research conducted with an aim to consolidate existing CP registers in Bangladesh' Sri Lanka' Nepal' Indonesia' Vietnam' Ghana' Zimbabwe' Suriname and Argentina.

"By consolidating the existing registers into a Global LMIC CP register and conducting population-based surveillance' longitudinal cohort studies and randomised controlled trials' this program will not only identify potentially preventable/modifiable risk factors but will allow us to test the effectiveness of community-based' early intervention models."

In addition to generating critical evidence base to improve lives of millions of people globally' the project will also establish Australia as the leading hub for CP research globally.

Minister for Health and Aged Care' Greg Hunt MP' said the funding would help researchers continue to make life-changing and life-altering discoveries.

"Every day we acknowledge the extraordinary work of Australia's health and medical researchers not only to confront the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic' but also to continue their outstanding research to find solutions to the ongoing health issues we face'" Minister Hunt said.