Member Highlights: Grant Funding, HDR Success & Research Forums


Congratulations to Associate Professor Anand Hardikar and his team on their JDRF Grant success!

Early Prediction of Progression to Autoimmunity in Type 1 Diabetes ~1.2M AUD over 3 years
The overall relative risk of type 1 diabetes (T1D) in general population is low (0.4%), but 15-fold higher in first-degree relatives (FDR) of individuals with T1D. Although a strong genetic link to the development of T1D is known, 90% of individuals who develop T1D have no family history of T1D. We have identified ways to profile RNA-based biomarkers (microRNAs) in heel-prick samples from dried blood spots. We aim to use existing biobanks within NSW to access neonatal heel-prick samples from individuals who have progressed towards developing diabetes. We plan to use gold-standard microRNA profiling technologies as well as a microRNA-profiling nano-chip technology for assessment of microRNA biomarkers of progression to autoimmunity and type 1 diabetes.


Emeritus Professor Caroline Smith

The Board of Trustees of Western Sydney University conferred the title of Emeritus Professor on Professor Caroline Smith at the graduation ceremony last Thursday.

Professor Caroline Smith (Adjunct Prof, THRI) is one of the most significant researchers in the world in the area of clinical acupuncture and women’s health. For over 13 years, Professor Smith has provided distinguished service to Western Sydney University through her internationally recognized research excellence and translational impact and, more recently, her research leadership and governance. During her time at Western Sydney University, Caroline has researched, collaborated with and published in the areas of fertility, sterility, obstetrics and gynecology and in nursing and midwifery.


Collaborations between Western and Indonesia

Brahm Marjadi (SoM, THRI) was inaugurated as Adjunct Professor at the Faculty of Medicine, Universitas Airlangga, Indonesia. This position will help to establish collaborations between Western and Indonesia


Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia (HERDSA) Early Career Conference Grant

Congratulations to Ms. Kritika Rana, PhD candidate at THRI under the supervision of A/Prof Amit Arora, Prof Andrew Page, and Dr Jennifer Kent (University of Sydney), who has been awarded the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia (HERDSA) Early Career Conference Grant. She will be delivering a showcase presentation on “Peer support as a catalyst for improving student engagement and learning in postgraduate public health education” at the HERDSA Conference in Melbourne in June 2022.

Project team: A/Prof Amit Arora, A/Prof Tinashe Dune, Dr Sowbhagya Micheal, Dr Stewart Alford, Dr David Lim, Dr Ritesh Chimoriya, Ms Kritika Rana and Ms Jinal Parmar


THRI PhD Student milestones

Congratulations to THRI PhD candidates Kedir, Sithum and Moin for submitting their theses!

Kedir Yimam Ahmed
Supervised by Dr Felix Ogbo, Dr Amit Arora, Professor Andrew Page
Trends, determinants and health effects of infant and young child feeding practices in Ethiopia from 2000 to 2016: building the evidence base to match policy interventions

Moin Uddin Ahmed
Supervised by Dr Kathy Tannous, Professor Deborah Turner, Dr Frances Henshaw
Economic Burden of Diabetes-related Foot Disease in Australia: Evidence from NSW

Sithum Munasinghe
Supervised by Dr Haider Mannan, Professor Andrew Page
Optimal referral pathways to reduce psychological distress and subsequent self-harm among those presenting to primary care with a mental health condition

HDR Milestones 

Health & Medicine Cluster

Welcome Dr Alison Short as the Academic Advisor Health & Medicine, Industry Engagement and Dr Nazmul Huda as the Research and Industry Administration Officer with the Health & Medicine Cluster at Western Sydney University.

Coming from a background as both a health services researcher and an allied health academic, Dr Alison Short brings a wide range of skills and experience to the seconded role of Academic Advisor Health & Medicine, Industry Engagement. This new H&M Cluster role fosters, supports and coordinates many WSU initiatives connecting education, research and industry. By such collaborations, career-ready graduates can be further aligned with industry needs, especially through the NPILF framework. Current activities include doctoral internships and a range of funded development projects.


Dr Nazmul Huda is a social epidemiologist with expertise in mixed-method research and an/a academic and lecturer. Currently, he is working as a Research and Industry Administration Officer at THRI. In this role, he will be supporting the Health and Medicine Cluster by working with ADRs in grant review (internal and external), maintaining communication with external agencies, doing administrative functions and other duties related to cluster research.

Over the past seven years, Nazmul has worked as a researcher at the NSW Ministry of Health, WSU and UNSW and a sessional academic/lecturer at UNSW, ACU, WSU and SCEI. His research projects aim to improve marginalised people's physical, mental, sexual, and reproductive health and quality of life. He also has growing expertise in the social epidemiology of infectious diseases and the community's role in promoting marginalised populations' sexual and reproductive health, including women, older people, female sex workers, refugees, and migrants. He loves travelling and reading books.


Join the Menstrual Cycle Research Network

THRI Members have launched the Menstrual Cycle Research Network with the vision to create a space where menstrual researchers, clinicians and advocates can collaborate and share our passion for menstrual research through guest speakers, workshops and other research activities. academic staff and HDR candidates who have a research interest in this area are encouraged to join the network. Please contact Dr Mike Armour or Dr Alex Hawkey for more details.

MCRN 300


Scientific Presentation and Discussion Forum: The impact of COVID-19 on the world’s African communities

Researchers from Translational Health Research Institute (THRI), Associate Professor Kingsley Agho (opens in a new window) and Dr Uchechukwu Levi Osuagwu, (opens in a new window) have led international research collaborations assessing the impact of COVID-19 on the world’s African communities to inform policy makers on future pandemics. The research group came together out of necessity during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The interdisciplinary group includes experts from countries, Cameroon, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, UK and Australia each with diverse research expertise ranging from medicine, public health, information technology to management has since published more than 11 peer reviewed articles in high impact journals, two news articles in The Conversation, held community information sessions, and presented at several local and international conferences.

Impact Covid Forum

View Recording (opens in a new window)

In 2020, an estimated 596 million people had distance vision impairment worldwide, of whom 43 million were blind. A large proportion of those affected (90%), live in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs) including Africa. Eye health and vision have widespread and profound implications for many aspects of life, health, as well as the economy. To date, people still suffer the consequences of poor access to high-quality, affordable eye care, leading to vision impairment and blindness. Although eye conditions affect all stages of life, those from ethnic minority groups are more likely to have vision impairment. Addressing this pervasive inequality using evidence-based information obtained through quality research in Africa is CEPHII’s (The Centre for Eyecare & Public Health Intervention Initiative) main objective.

CEPHII is a research group formed by two researchers from Translational Health Research Institute (THRI) at Western Sydney University, Dr Osuagwu Uchechukwu Levi and Associate Professor Kingsley Agho in early 2020. The group have published landmark papers on myopia, glaucoma and diabetes (main global causes of blindness).

In this scientific forum, CEPHII members discussed their findings and deliberate on possible collaborations for future projects.

Eye Health Forum

View Recording (opens in a new window)

Reflection on IASP Asia Pacific Conference 2022

Piumee Bandara, THRI PhD Candidate

I am so very grateful to THRI for supporting my attendance at the conference. I had the privilege of presenting at the opening ceremony as a WHO consultant advocating for suicide prevention, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. The opportunity to present on my PhD research as well as recent findings on a study with Prof. Andrew Page and colleagues on the cost-effectiveness of barriers for suicide prevention were also key highlights (although extremely nerve-racking).

I cannot stress enough how great it was to meet people in person, many of whom I had previously met only through Zoom or email. It was also lovely to see THRI alum Dr Vikas Arya so actively involved in the conference. Overall, it was an incredible opportunity to strengthen existing and new collaborations, practice presentation skills, and of course share knowledge and advocate for suicide prevention!



White paper: “What’s the Bloody Big Deal? (opens in a new window)

THRI members recently launched a white paper titled “What’s the Bloody Big Deal? How Australian workplaces and educational institutions can help break the menstrual taboo”. (opens in a new window) This paper establishes why managing periods is a public concern. Drawing on participants who menstruate across schools, workplaces and academia, menstrual education, workplace flexibility and stigma were explored. This white paper shares recommendations on policy, practice and infrastructure developments. This includes case study examples and opportunities to partner with Western Sydney University.

WP Whats the bloody deal