PhD scholarship winners announced

New cystic fibrosis PhD scholarship winners announced

The Institute for Respiratory Health is pleased to announce two new postgraduate PhD Scholarships, initiated through a new partnership with Conquer Cystic Fibrosis.

Alishum Ali and Abbey Sawyer will join the Institute for Respiratory Health and the Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital’s Adult CF Centre.  The Centre is made up of medical and allied health professionals who have a strong and unique research platform of both clinical and laboratory research.

The new scholarships will foster careers in cystic fibrosis (CF) research, and is another step in developing new treatments to help improve the life of everyone living with CF.

Alishum Ali

Project title: Molecular microbiology of complex respiratory infections: in cystic fibrosis and empyema

Respiratory tract and pleural cavity infections are a global health issue affecting thousands of people each year and for someone living with cystic fibrosis (CF) they can have a major impact on their health.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is the most common CF respiratory pathogen which contributes to pulmonary exacerbation. While pulmonary exacerbations are common for CF patients, the pathophysiology remains poorly understood. Importantly, one in four patients who experience an episode suffer from irreversible lung function loss despite having received intensive antibiotic treatment. This highlights the gap in our understanding on the microbiological basis of CF airway infection and how to optimise antibiotic treatment.

Streptococcus pneumoniae, a pathogen found in the nose and throat, is the most common causative organism in pleural infection (empyema). Whether molecular and genotypic knowledge of the Streptococcus pneumoniae strains can guide treatment and predict lethality in empyema has not been tested.

Alishum Ali, an infectious disease molecular scientist, will investigate these two complex respiratory infections. The aim of the project is to provide comprehensive molecular microbiological characterizations of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in CF infection and Streptococcus pneumoniae strains in empyema patients and assess the clinical utility of the information to help improve patient outcomes.

Alishum said “The pathophysiology of CF pulmonary exacerbations remains poorly understood. Having the opportunity to explore these two complex pathogens is one of the reasons I wanted to join the Institute for Respiratory Health and Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital’s Adult CF Centre.”

Research Unit: Pleural Medicine
Supervisors: Dr Anna Tai and Prof Gary Lee

Abbey Sawyer

Project title: What is the most appropriate form of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) in the Cystic Fibrosis (CF) population and does this type of training improve exercise capacity and adherence to exercise in adults with CF?

Physiotherapy plays an integral role in the management of cystic fibrosis (CF). Treatment plans include airway clearance techniques to minimise the risk of respiratory infection, and help improve exercise training to improve exercise capacity. It is known that people living with CF who have greater exercise capacity, also have an improved health related quality of life and survival. However, the daily treatment burden is high for people with CF, leading to reduced adherence to current exercise guidelines.

Abbey Sawyer, a Physiotherapist at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital will explore the most appropriate form of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) for CF patients and whether this type of training improves exercise capacity and adherence to exercise.

The aim of the project will be to develop an effective and regular approach to HIIT program with the hope that this model becomes standard practice, not only here in Western Australia but internationally.

Abbey said “My goal is to be part of adult CF research in Western Australia, as well as leading the translation of these findings into physiotherapy clinical practice at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital. I am also excited by the potential opportunities to provide mentorship to postgraduate students interested in CF in the future.”

Research Unit: Physiotherapy
Supervisors: Dr Kylie Hill, Dr Sue Jenkins, Jamie Wood, Dr Bhajan Singh


The next round of Conquer Cystic Fibrosis Scholarships will open on the November 1, 2016

PhD scholarship winners announced was last modified: December 15th, 2016 by Sarah Cermak