Hon Roger Cook BA GradDipBus MBA MLA

Hon Roger Cook BA GradDipBus MBA MLA

Deputy Premier; Minister for Health; Mental Health

    Perth newborns set to make mark on science

    16/03/2018 10:15 AM
    • Pioneering 'Baby Face Study' set to begin at Fiona Stanley Hospital
    • Newborns photographed to help early diagnosis of rare diseases 

    Hundreds of newborn babies at Fiona Stanley Hospital are about to have the chance to make their mark on science, simply by having their faces photographed.


    The photographs will help build a world-first database of baby faces which will be used to help improve early diagnosis of rare diseases. The 'baby face' photographs will be used to determine facial variation across newborn populations and identify subtle facial variations that can be markers of rare diseases.


    More than 63,000 children in Western Australia have a rare disease, which is enough to fill Optus Stadium. While rare diseases are by definition 'rare', collectively they affect about one in 12 Western Australians.


    Paediatric registrar and researcher Dr Cathryn Poulton will capture the faces of newborn babies at Fiona Stanley Hospital as part of a research project, which will be used to develop a tool to help doctors detect and diagnose rare diseases earlier.


    Often genetic in origin, rare diseases are very difficult to diagnose. Patients can wait years for a diagnosis and in up to half of cases, the initial diagnosis will be wrong.


    These diseases have a disproportionately large impact on the health system - and their cost to the people who suffer from them and their families is immeasurable.


    Dr Poulton's work on the 'Baby Face Study' is thanks to a State Government-funded Registrar Research Fellowship, one of 10 awarded in this second round of the program.


    The initiative is designed to enhance the research capability of the WA Health registrar workforce by enabling these doctors-in-training to pursue research alongside their clinical duties while under the supervision of senior clinician researchers.


    Comments attributed to Health Minister Roger Cook:


    "Collectively rare diseases affect around 190,000 Western Australians - about a third of them are children. This research stands to make a big difference to the lives of many people.


    "The McGowan Government views medical research and innovation as key drivers towards creating a more efficient and effective health system in WA. 


    "Dr Poulton is to be congratulated on her award and commended on her commitment to this very important field of research, which has the potential to improve the health and wellbeing of people born with rare conditions.


    "This research could ultimately help ensure people with rare diseases are diagnosed earlier, enabling them to begin treatments earlier and have a better chance of improvement in their condition.


    "It's terrific to see registrars undertaking research alongside their clinical duties and across such a wide range of projects - from Dr Poulton's work in rare diseases, to projects on ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, peanut allergy and the preservation of donor hearts."


    Minister's office - 6552 6500


    The full list of recipients is:


    1. Dr Samara Baldwin, Fiona Stanley Hospital

    Dr Baldwin will undertake work on the Promoting Introduction to Prevent Peanut Allergy (PIPPA) project which is recruiting at Fiona Stanley Hospital, as well as developing and implementing a trial of a rapid referral clinic for infants with eczema.


    2. Dr Riti Chetty, Royal Perth Hospital

    Dr Chetty will lead a multi-modality imaging study that will be embedded in The Quadruple UltrA-low-dose tReaTment for hypertension (QUARTET) trial. Dr Chetty's research activity will be supported by the Department of Cardiology at Royal Perth Hospital.


    3. Dr Navin David Palayoor, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital

    Dr David Palayoor will contribute to gynaecological cancer research as part of two ongoing studies in advanced ovarian cancer, as well as participation in other clinical trial and audit activities that involve patients at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital. 


    4. Dr Jeremy Hickey, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital

    Dr Hickey will work with the Heart and Lung Research Institute, which is a group of cardiovascular researchers from diverse backgrounds, on the project Supercooled Storage for Extended Preservation of Hearts - A pilot study in a rodent model.


    5. Dr Jan Ho, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital

    Dr Ho will lead the assessment of macro- and micro-vascular changes observed in the EMPA-SNS study, an investigator initiated and industry supported study which aims to determine the mechanisms underlying the cardiovascular protective effect of the SGLT-2 inhibitor Empagliflozin.  Dr Ho will be supported by the Dobney Hypertension Centre within the Cardiology Department at Royal Perth Hospital.


    6. Dr Teng Fong Ng, Royal Perth Hospital

    Dr Ng will be integral to the development of a retrospective and prospective database of WA patients with multiple myeloma to assess diagnostic and prognostic features which are associated with poor patient outcomes.  This work will complement research programs undertaken by the Royal Perth Hospital Haematology Department and Cell and Tissue Therapies WA.


    7. Dr Mon Ohn, Princess Margaret Hospital

    Dr Ohn will be primarily responsible for the 19-year-old follow-up of the West Australian Lung Health in Preterm Children cohort.  This trial is supported by the Telethon Kids Institute.


    8. Dr Shereen Paramalingam, Royal Perth Hospital

    Dr Paramalingam will play an integral role in the Preliminary validation of Sheer Wave Elastography (SWE) in Muscle project. 


    9. Dr Cathryn Poulton, Fiona Stanley Hospital

    Dr Poulton will work closely with the Western Australian Register of Developmental Anomalies, Genetics Services of WA, the Department of Neonatology Fiona Stanley Hospital and the Department of Paediatrics Fiona Stanley Hospital to build on existing multisite multi-institution projects and adapt these to the logistics of the neonatal setting, as well as devising the protocol of the Babyface study.


    10. Dr Ranita Siru-Sabatino, Fiona Stanley Hospital

    Dr Siru-Sabatino will take a lead role in co-ordinating the project, Do patients with Foot Ulceration and Type 2 Diabetes have Cognitive Impairment and lower levels of Self-care Behaviour? This project will involve patients from both Fremantle and Fiona Stanley hospitals.