A breath of fresh air

PROFESSOR Peter Sly has been with the Institute for Child Health Research (ICHR) since its formation in 1990, opting to join the new research venture instead of taking up one of three international job offers.

ICHR director Fiona Stanley said securing Professor Sly was an important component in the creation of a truly multi-disciplinary research hub.

“We had a good population database and we had good laboratory scientists, but we didn’t have a clinical research group,” Professor Stanley said.

“We didn’t have people who could really define things. How do you define asthma, for example. If you can’t define it then you can’t research it.

“We were able to bring Peter Sly across. He was offered a big job in the United States but chose to come here.”

Professor Sly, a paediatric clinician, has since been offered several jobs out of WA but said he chooses to stay with the ICHR to collaborate with good researchers on child disease prevention.

“The role was to be a link between basic science and clinical science. It is to help the people in the hospital understand the relevance of the research; but I’m not the only person here who does that,” Professor Sly said.

“We have the best concentration of asthma and respiratory specialists in the county and equal to any in the world.

“That, plus we have a multi-disciplinary institute, I don’t know anything like it in the world.”

Professor Sly is the head of the division of clinical science and has been active in helping solve asthma-related questions and has won several grants to continue the research.

“Last year we received a NHMRC grant for asthma research. It is a five-year grant of $7.75 million,” he said.

The dedication of researchers based in WA had and would continue to provide good research outcomes, Professor Sly said.

“One GP working with us has followed 250 kids all at high risk at developing the disease because their parents had it. This GP has followed them and every time they have gone to the doctor for a cold they were swabbed and looked at to determine the effects of asthma,” he said.

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