Pleural Medicine Research - Institute for Respiratory Health

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. 

Each year more than 60,000 people are affected by pleural disease in Australia and their incidence, mortality and healthcare costs continue to rise.

The Pleural Medicine Group is led by Professor Gary Lee, one of the top clinical academics in pleural research. The group is regarded as one of the most active pleural research groups in the world, combines both clinical and laboratory staff and is closely integrated with the most active tertiary pleural services in Australia.

The group focuses on translational research in common pleural diseases, especially cancer and infection, with a strong publication record on clinical (phase I to multicentre randomised trials) and bench research (molecular biology to animal models). As well as novel diagnostic and management strategies for pleural effusions.

Much of the research work has directly impacted clinical practice and helped reduce patient mortality and morbidity in malignant effusion. For example, setting up of the indwelling catheter services in Western Australia and pleural infection such as the introduction of the new intrapleural therapy.

Recent highlights

  • Professor Gary Lee awarded the WA Cancer Researcher of the Year for 2019
  • Professor Gary Lee awarded the Practitioner Fellowship, Medical Research Future Fund Next Generation Clinical Researcher Program, NHMRC
  • Dr Ed Fysh awarded the NHMRC Early Career Development Fellowship

Current Research projects

  • The role of fibroblast growth factor 9 (FGF9)
  • Nutritional status in mesothelioma
  • Exercise as a therapeutic tool in the management of mesothelioma
  • Pleural Effusion and Symptom Evaluation Study (PLEASE)
  • Bacterial growth in pleural fluid


Our People
The Pleural Medicine Group is made up of a multi-disciplinary team of doctors, scientists, nurses, physiotherapists and allied health staff.

Help us continue our vital research by making a donation today.