Glenn Brown Memorial Fund helping to change lives - Institute for Respiratory Health

Glenn Brown Memorial Fund helping to change lives

Monday, March 29, 2021 | Research

Researchers at the Institute for Respiratory Health are exploring how adults affected by cystic fibrosis (CF) view and value themselves as a person, to help improve their overall wellbeing.

Maggie Harrigan, a previous senior social worker at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital and researcher at the Institute is leading the collaborative research project as part of her PhD at the University of Western Australia.

She received a $50,000 grant from the Institute’s Glenn Brown Memorial Fund to look at the theory of self-concept – our knowledge of who we are, including all of our thoughts and feelings about ourselves physically, emotionally and socially. Self-concept influences how we cope, behave, our capabilities and our individual characteristics.

“Research shows that those with a positive self-concept have better health outcomes and an optimistic attitude,” said Ms Harrigan.

CF is an inherited lung disease that causes a build-up of sticky mucus in the lungs of patients with the disease, this can lead to constant infection and inflammation. It also damages the airways causing a progressive decline in lung function over time.

“Thanks to life-changing medications, CF patients are living a lot longer, so having a good understanding of their self-concept is more important than ever,” said Ms Harrigan.

“CF is a chronic disease and with that comes a lot of challenges from daily treatments to being hospitalised for periods of time. This can all lead to mental health issues like depression and anxiety, with negative self-concept intensifying these struggles. In contrast, a positive self-concept can act as a protective health factor and provide an ability to cope better.

“Currently little research has been conducted in the field of self-concept relating specifically to adults with CF. My research will result in new knowledge, for example, what self-concept challenges adults with cystic fibrosis are facing.

“If we know what the challenges are, we can provide better support and education to promote positive self-concept and improved health outcomes for CF patients.”

Geoff Stewart, Director at the Institute said the Glenn Brown Memorial Fund has helped to fund more than nine life-saving CF research projects.

“Through generous donations, more than $476,000 has been raised, which has meant we can help support people living with CF through life-changing research like Maggie’s.

“We’re also immensely proud that we can support early-career researchers like Maggie, to help kick-start their careers, help them flourish and to find solutions to issues that matter the most.”

The collaborative research project is being undertaken with the Institute for Respiratory Health, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital and Cystic Fibrosis Western Australia. Findings will be released in 2024 as part of Ms Harrigan’s PhD.

Past winners of the Glenn Brown Memorial Award

  • Associate Professor Yuben Moodley investigated a type of cell found in the human placenta that could help reduce injury and scarring of the lungs. His research into stem cell therapy is investigating the possibility of generating new lung cells.
  • Dr Kathryn Ramsey researched the associations between the lung clearance index (LCI) and structural lung damage as well as respiratory infection and inflammation in preschool aged children with CF. By establishing a correlation between the lung clearance index and structural lung damage, this new lung function test can be used as an important tool in monitoring children with CF.
  • Associate Professor Sue Jenkins and Dr Jamie Wood, evaluated the functionality and impact of Telehealth CF Clicinics. The clinics provide adults living with CF in regional WA, access to specialist CF care without the need to travel to Sir Charlies Gairdner Hospital.
  • Professor Stephen Stick assessed non-ion channel effects of the CFTR potentiator Ivacaftor for CF patients.
  • Dr Anna Tai investigated the systematic molecular surveillance of P. aeruginosa strains in patients with CF at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.
  • Associate Professor Graham Hall conducted an assessment of sensitive outcome measures for monitoring pulmonary exacerbations in young children with CF.
  • Professor Fergal O’Gara conducted a pilot study for young CF children to determine if early intervention with Azithromycin can control bile induced pathogen establishment.
  • PhD Candidate, Naomi Chapman investigated the Metaneb® System in adults with cystic fibrosis, its effects during periods of clinical stability and disease exacerbation.