Joondalup Health Campus gets $26m for childhood research


Julian and Amelia Van der Watt who will be involved in the study.
Julian and Amelia Van der Watt who will be involved in the study.

THE mysteries of autism and other childhood conditions could be better understood through a landmark Joondalup Health Campus study that has just received a $26 million grant.

Held in collaboration with the Telethon Kids Institute, the ORIGINS Project looks at how a child’s early environment, including before birth, might increase the risk of a broad range of health complications, including allergies, asthma, autism and diabetes.

The study will focus on 10,000 children, beginning from pregnancy until age five.

Prominent Australian philanthropic organisation the Paul Ramsay Foundation announced over the weekend it would contribute $13 million to the project, which the Federal Government matched with another $13 million through a donation to Telethon.

The program is to be co-directed by JHC paediatrics head Desiree Silva and Telethon Kids Institute professor Susan Prescott.

Prof Silva labelled it a “unique large-scale investigation”.

“What’s exciting… is the breadth and depth of the study,” she said.

“It lets us explore the early causality of Australia’s growing and debilitating chronic illnesses and identify and implement interventions.”

Telethon Kids Institute director Jonathan Carapetis said the study used “cutting edge research technologies” to follow the participants over multiple years to “unravel what works and what doesn’t”.

Foundation chief executive Simon Freeman expressed the foundation’s keen interest in funding interventions that focus on the “vital early years”.

“Our ultimate goal is to identify the root causes of chronic conditions and to have effective approaches to prevention and management,” he said.

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