Paul Ramsay Foundation funds landmark study at Joondalup

Nov 15, 2017

Australia’s largest philanthropic organisation, The Paul Ramsay Foundation, is cofunding one of the most comprehensive studies ever undertaken into how a child’s early environment, including before birth, influences the dramatically rising risk of a broad range of chronic child health problems such as allergies, asthma, autism, diabetes and obesity – and what we might do to reduce this risk.

The ORIGINS Project is a collaboration between Telethon Kids Institute and Ramsay Health Care’s Joondalup Health Campus. It will collect a broad range of data, and provide participating parents and children with health check-ups and follow up support when a risk factor is identified, to help prevent or minimise future health issues.

The study will follow a birth cohort of 10,000 individuals, beginning from pregnancy and until the child is five years old.

ORIGINS Co-Director Professor Desiree Silva Head of Paediatrics at Western Australia’s Joondalup Health Campus, said the philanthropic investment was significant.

“This invaluable contribution will enable a unique large scale investigation into how pregnancy and early life exposure can influence a child’s growth, development and life-long health,” Professor Silva said.

What’s exciting about ORIGINS is the breadth and depth of the study. It lets us explore the early causality of Australia’s growing and debilitating chronic illnesses, and identify and implement interventions.

The project is co-directed by Professor Susan Prescott at the Telethon Kids Institute, who emphasised that ORIGINS will address many of the most pressing health issues of our time.

“One of its unique virtues is the ability to translate the findings by rapidly integrating them into both clinical practice and community activities. This hasn't been the case in other longitudinal birth studies,” Professor Prescott said.

Telethon Kids Institute Director, Professor Jonathan Carapetis highlighted how the partnership brings researchers, clinicians and families together.

“ORIGINS allows us to bring the learnings from previous research into the early origins of health and disease, apply them in a range of new studies, and follow these children and families into the future using cutting edge research technologies to unravel what works, and what doesn’t,” Professor Carapetis said.

“In so many ways, ORIGINS represents the future of research, and ensures Western Australia remains at the forefront of international longitudinal child health research.”

The Paul Ramsay Foundation guaranteed $13m of the $26m required to complete the ORIGINS cohort study, and is delighted that the Federal Government have matched their funding through Channel 7 Perth’s Telethon.

Paul Ramsay Foundation CEO, Simon Freeman, said investing in collaborative projects that involve community and government has greater potential for impact in preventing and treating chronic conditions.

“The Foundation is committed to investing in research that seeks to address the ever growing burden of disease caused by chronic conditions – particularly interventions that focus on the vital early years,” Mr Freeman said.

“ORIGINS is fully integrated within the clinical and diagnostic environment at Joondalup Health Campus, giving us the opportunity to see the impact of innovative approaches to treatment and prevention,” he said.

“Our ultimate goal is to identify the root causes of chronic conditions and to have effective approaches to prevention and management so that all children can have a healthy start to life,” said Mr Freeman.

For more information about the Paul Ramsay Foundation and its work, visit: paulramsayfoundation.org.au