Our Research - Institute for Respiratory Health

Our Research

The prevalence of lung disease and its impact on Australians is devastating.

Research is the only way to find new treatments and cures for lung disease. We are a non-government, not-for-profit organisation, which relies on the generosity of the community, corporate organisations and foundations to continue to deliver our life-changing research.

Through our research groups and research units we work together to treat and cure lung disease.

You can discover some of the life-changing work our researchers are undertaking below.

Research Areas
Asbestos-related research

Asbestos-related diseases are responsible for an increasing number of deaths in Australia and can take 20 – 40 years to develop.

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Asthma is a common, long-term respiratory disease. It affects about 2.5 million people in Australia according to the Australian Bureau of statistics.

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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is a group of long-term conditions that are related to the obstruction of airflow in the lungs.

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Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is the most common life-limiting genetic disorder affecting Australians today, for which there is no cure.

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Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a rare lung disease that causes irreversible scarring of the lungs and has a very low survival rate.

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Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the fourth leading cause of death in Australia and is the world’s most lethal cancer. In healthy lungs, normal lung tissue cells reproduce and develop into healthy lung tissue.

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Mesothelioma is a cancer of the pleura, the outer lining of the lung. It is caused by exposure to asbestos. It spreads widely within the pleura before symptoms appear.

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Pleural Effusion

Pleural effusion is when an abnormal amount of fluid accumulates between the thin layers of tissue lining the outside of the lung and the wall of the chest cavity (the pleura).

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Pleural Infection (Empyema)

Pleural infection (empyema) within the pleural cavity is a common and an increasing clinical problem, especially in the elderly and in childhood.

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Help us work toward a world without lung disease by making a donation to our life-saving research.

Research Units
Cell Biology Research

The cell is fundamental to life and any abnormal behaviour may lead to disease. This group is investigating how deranged cellular activity contributes to the development of chronic lung diseases such as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and whether it is possible to identify suitable therapeutic targets and those patients heading towards decline early enough to intervene.

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Clinical Trials Unit

Before any drug is made available to the public, manufacturers are required to ensure that it is safe to do so by undertaking clinical trials. Our respiratory health trials unit is one of the largest of its kind in Australia and is highly regarded, nationally and internationally, for its work in helping pharmaceutical companies test the safety and efficacy of drugs used to treat chronic lung disease.

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Cystic Fibrosis and Bronchiectasis Research

The team is investigating how patients may benefit from novel drug therapies, diagnostic imaging techniques, molecular epidemiology of infection and psychosocial interventions.

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Molecular Pathology Research

Pathology is concerned with determining the causes of disease and may be studied at the cellular, sub-cellular or molecular levels. This group is investigating some of the important molecular and cellular pathways involved causing chronic interstitial lung diseases and cancer, and how they might be manipulated to bring about cure and/or healing.

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Occupational and Respiratory Health Research

Occupational lung diseases came into prominence with the industrial revolution and, despite legislation and a significant reduction, they continue to be problematic, with some ‘old’ diseases re-emerging due to the introduction of new technologies. This group is investigating sensitive screening methods to identify workers early enough to implement curative treatment, as well as investigating novel therapies for those with occupational lung disease as well as lung cancer generally.

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Pleural Medicine Research

The pleura are two thin membranes which cover, respectively, the chest cavity and the lungs themselves, which enable the lungs to expand and contract correctly during breathing. There is little space between them but, in some diseases, such as cancer and respiratory infection, fluid accumulates causing major breathing difficulties. This group is investigating mechanisms contributing to this accumulation and how best to resolve it.

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National Centre for Asbestos Related Diseases

NCARD researchers are recognised as world leaders and have an extensive collaborative network with leading cancer researchers across the globe.

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