Maridulu Budyari Gumal (SPHERE) Update from Prof Chris Levi

SPHERE is now a little over 12 months old. With SPHERE activities gaining momentum and having not only approved plans but also tangible achievements across the Partnership, it is a good time to highlight activities and achievements.

The Clinical Academic Groups (CAGs)

Our 12 foundation CAGs have chalked up significant achievements in this short 12 month time frame. They are developing and undertaking seed funded projects in clinically important focus areas that have emerged through the programmatic collaboration inbuilt into their structure and functioning. Although much of the project work is naturally still “in progress”, important achievements include the implementation science training workshop conducted by the Maternal, Newborn and Women’s Health CAG (the fore-runner of our IS & KT platform – see below), a new model of integrated genomics care piloted by the Genome Connect CAG, a new model of dementia care in development in the Age and Ageing CAG, whole of SPHERE education, training and/or project development workshops conducted by Triple I, ELDOH, RESOH and Cancer CAGs;  whole of SPHERE embracing of consumer input into research with a training workshop convened by STREAM Health, a foundation now set for meaningful and appropriate engagement between all our CAGs and our indigenous communities led by our Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing CAG, our CIC (K2A) CAG building a national network of paediatric researchers to address the needs of chronic diseases in childhood, establishment of the Diabetes, Contraception And Pre-pregnancy Program (DCAPP) by the DOMS CAG,  Neuroscience, Addiction and Mental Health, our broadest and most diverse CAG now with multiple research translation seed funded project underway. These achievements (and more) were highlighted at the inaugural Annual CAG review on Thursday July 19th. My thanks to the Project managers, the Executive Officers and the SPHERE operations team for great support provided. For more information on CAG activities and achievements contact Karyn Joyner.

Our enabling and support platforms – a summary of the initiatives and time frames.

Our strategic plan has set out a number of CAG support initiatives that are now in the establishment phase. The platforms will take approximately 6 months to become fully operational and I have set a target to deploy the major resources allocated to these platforms from the beginning of 2019. Importantly, the platforms are purpose built to support and enable the CAGs. The CAGs are our “engine room” and platform funding will be channelled largely through the CAGs. The platform initiatives will roll-out according to the following time frame -

  • Clinical Trials Support – Establishment phase July-December 2018. In addition to assisting our healthcare partners with roll-out of the OHMR clinical trials support units initiative, the SPHERE clinical trials platform will establish two SPHERE wide initiatives. The first is a trials design, methods, statistical, analytical and research economics support program and the second a SPHERE clinical trials brokerage. The former is aiming to support the development of high quality clinical trials capitalizing on the expertise we have available in Institutes like The George, Kirby and Ingham. The latter aims to promote SPHERE’s clinical trial capability to both the commercial and academic sector in Australia and internationally. For more information on the SPHERE clinical trials support platform contact Rowena Tucker.
  • Workforce Development – Calls for EOI for translational research fellowships – August/September 2018. Building clinical academic workforce capacity and capability is a clear need across the Partnership and processes are commencing for the establishment of a translational research fellowships scheme and a research internship scheme – both looking to have their first intakes in 2019. We are looking to call for expressions of interest for 2019 fellowships via the CAGs  August/September 2018.
  • Innovation Capture – the Researching Important Clinical issues for better Health outcomes (RICH outcomes) workshops have commenced in pilot phase. The initial 5 workshops will be evaluated in October 2018. These structured workshops aim to develop high quality small project grants that undergo rigorous peer review and appraisal during development and focus on important clinical problems amenable to research or innovation solutions. These workshops and the accompanying small grant funding will be offered across all CAGs in 2019.
  • Supporting Leading Better Value Care (SLBVC) – A targeted call for health services research project grants aligning with health service partner priorities will occur in October 2018. LHD/SCN priorities will be the target for these health services research small project grants that will evaluate new models of care that aim to reduce waste or improve efficiency and effectiveness. Health care partner priorities are currently being identified and a call for the SLBVC grants will be made in October 2018 with the view to project commence in 2019. For more information on Workforce Development, Innovation capture/RICH outcomes workshops and SLBVC grants contact Helena Malinowska.
  • Implementation Science and Knowledge Translation (IS & KT)– consultation and establishment phase July-December 2018. Internationally recognized experts in IS and KT, Sandy Middleton and Katheryn Boydell, will lead the formation of an “academy of experts” and establish education and training programs in IS &KT primarily tsargeting clinical staff to upskill in methods and conduct. The leaders will begin a process of consultation with the health care and academic leadership across SPHERE with a focus initially on nursing research and practice improvement. The platform will also provide project funding to support projects that deploy arts-based KT. Consultations have commenced with the relevant leadership groups with a view to establishment of the IS & KT academy and the conduct of a rolling series of education, training and project-based activities 2019.  For more information on the IS & KT platform contact Karyn Joyner.

Our National Systems Level Initiatives (NSLIs) – a summary of activities underway

SPHERE co-leads the development of a national framework for Health Systems Improvement and Sustainability supported by colleagues at the AHRTC based in Brisbane (Brisbane Diamantina Health Partners) and the CIRH based in Newcastle (NSW Regional Health Partners). This framework will propose a series of recommendations to Federal Government where the Alliance of the 9 National Centres (7 AHRTCs, 2 CIRH’s – the Australian Health Research Alliance) see potential for alignment and investment to boost our national capability and capacity in health services research and service improvement.  It is one of four NSLIs funded by the MRFF, all aiming for a national collaborative approach to addressing major challenges faced by our health care system. The three other focus areas are data driven health care improvement, building workforce capacity in indigenous health research and community and consumer engagement in research. For further information on the NSLIs contact Karyn Joyner.

Other important SPHERE news

We were delighted to receive official notification recently of the release of $6.1 M in MRFF Rapid Applied Research Translation funding to support SPHERE initiatives over the new 3 years. This funding will allow the establishment of up to 3 new CAGs with Council determining that the areas of Vascular Health, Frontiers Technology and Health and the Built Environment will be targeted, however the call will be open to other potential groupings. Expressions of interest for the establishment of new CAGs will be called in mid-late August 2018.

Thank you for your ongoing support of SPHERE.

Professor Chris Levi
Executive Director Sydney Partnership for Health Education Research & Enterprise (SPHERE)