Connecting Queensland researchers working towards better health for Australian women

29 March 2021

Two leading Queensland researchers are more determined than ever to bring together researchers across the State to address major health areas in women’s health. Professor Vicki Clifton and Professor Gita Mishra are the BDHP representatives on the national Women’s Health Research, Translation and Impact Network (WHRTN). They are calling on Queensland researchers to get involved in the network and its upcoming forum. The WHRTN is an Australian Health Research Alliance (AHRA) initiative, which has received $5M in Australian Government funding over five years to address priority areas* in physical and mental health for women and to support career advancement for women in health and medical research. Professor Vicki Clifton explained researchers focused on improving women’s health are spread across Queensland and are working on local, national and international research projects. “Queensland with its geographically dispersed population has two of Australia’s leading health research centres – the Brisbane Diamantina Health Partners and the Tropical Australian Academic Health Centre – and the researchers addressing priority areas in women’s health are spread across the State. “They are working on research related to women’s health from preconception to the end of life with the same goal – better health for Australian women. “By connecting these researchers, we have an opportunity to strengthen how we position the incredible research happening in Queensland. Together, we can apply for funding to pilot work for national initiatives and other opportunities,” Professor Clifton said. Professor Gita Mishra said the WHRTN aims to encourage broader collaboration across community, health services and academic institutions to advance research and translate its findings into clinical practice. “With the focus on women’s health, it’s so important that we hear from women themselves. It is the best way for us to understand their health experiences across their lifetime, and for women to have a voice in our work and research. We want to engage women, partner with them, co-design our research and translation activities with them,” Professor Mishra said. The Australian Government funding for WHRTN will also help to build health workforce capacity and develop leaders in women’s health research. Professor Mishra said the most powerful tools in career development are mentorship and collaborative national networks, which give early to mid-career researchers opportunities for success. “The WHRTN will create and expand networking opportunities for Queensland researchers in women’s health, aiming to advance and support their career development. There is an emphasis on increasing capacity in women researchers across under-represented groups, in diverse disciplines, from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds and those in rural and regional areas,” Professor Mishra said. In May 2021, researchers will gather in Brisbane at the inaugural Women’s Health Forum to hear about current research, network with their colleagues and help identify and articulate the major gaps in knowledge in women’s health in Queensland. With BDHP’s support, Professors Mishra and Clifton have extended an invitation to all clinician researchers, academic researchers, mid-career and early career researchers to join the forum, present their work, engage in networking and workshop the needs of the research community and the needs of women in Queensland. To express your interest in the Women’s Health Network and its activities, please contact one of the Queensland representatives (details below). *The WHRTN has identified the following priority areas in women’s health:
  • Preconception, pregnancy, postpartum and intrapartum health of women and babies
  • Mental health
  • Reproductive health
  • Chronic disease and preventative health including cancer and heart disease
  • Healthy lifestyle, nutrition, physical activity and the prevention of obesity
  • Violence and abuse
  • Indigenous health
  • Healthy ageing
  • Sexual health
Professor Vicki Clifton is a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Senior Research Fellow and a Senior Research Fellow at Mater Research. She is a Program Leader of the Mothers, Babies and Women’s Health Research Theme and leader of the Pregnancy and Development research group. Professor Clifton is an internationally recognised expert in asthma and pregnancy research. She also has a specific interest in the sex-specific differences in the fetal-placental response to complications of pregnancy. Email: Professor Gita Mishra is an NHMRC Principal Research Fellow based at the School of Public Health at the University of Queensland. She is internationally recognised for her expertise in women’s health and life course epidemiology, especially the links between reproductive characteristics and non-communicable diseases in later life, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. She is the Director of the Australian Longitudinal Study of Women’s Health (ALSWH). In addition, she leads the InterLACE project – a major international collaborative research program on reproductive health and chronic disease. Email: Professor Sarah Larkins is an academic general practitioner, Professor, Health Systems Strengthening, and Director, Research Development, Division of Tropical Health and Medicine at James Cook University. She has particular skills and experience in health systems and workforce research. Dr Larkins has more than 140 published papers and is Chief Investigator on five current NHMRC Grants. She currently supervises 14 students at the Doctoral level (Mentor advisor) and has 12 PhD completions. Her focus is on collaborating to improve equity in health care services for underserved populations, particularly in maternal and child health and in training a health workforce with appropriate knowledge, attitudes and skills for this purpose. Email:

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