RESEARCHERS from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) and Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem will meet in Melbourne next week for the first major paediatric research symposium organised by AUSiMED, a medical research initiative between Australia and Israel.
The May 13-14 symposium will bring together 22 of the world’s leading researchers from Australia and Israel to discuss the treatment of children affected by chronic illness and genetic disorders.
It will also consider issues around community health, in which Australia is a world leader.
MCRI is at the forefront of gene-based technologies that are changing health care.
Professor Vicky Anderson, whose research group recently established the Australian Centre for Child Neuropsychological Studies at MCRI, told The AJN her team will be looking at synergies between Hadassah and the MCRI.
“Kids who have chronic illness tend to have a lifetime connection with the hospital and spend a lot of time there, and also have some difficulties adjusting to their problems, and their families also have difficulties,” she said.
Anderson works with children who have cystic fibrosis, metabolic disorders and other problems, as well as working with the children’s families.
The symposium stems from a memorandum of understanding between MCRI and Hadassah in 2012 to carry out collaborative research funded by philanthropy.
AUSiMED president Ron Finkel said Israel’s success in treating chronic illnesses, and that genetic disorders among Israelis and Palestinians are well documented. The symposium would see researchers sharing that knowledge.
“One of the long-term aims is to treat chronically ill patients at a proposed Centre for Excellence for Chronic Disease at the Royal Children’s Hospital. This will follow the model created by Hadassah,” Finkel said.
According to AUSiMED CEO Roz Kaldor-Aroni, work being done by Professor Frank Oberklaid and his Centre for Community Child Health team at the Royal Children’s Hospital is of interest to paediatricians and trainers in Israel.
Director of Hadassah’s National Centre for Community Child Health Dr Hava Gadassi – who will address the symposium – spent two-and-a-half years working with Oberklaid as a paediatric fellow before returning to Israel.
Participants in the symposium will include Hadassah’s head of paediatrics, Professor Eitan Kerem, whose model for treating chronic illness in children could become a template for Australian treatment.
Other Israeli speakers will include Hadassah health specialists Professor Orly Elpeleg, Dr Asaf Ta-Shma and Dr Shimon Edvardson.
They will join speakers from MCRI, including infant sleep expert Associate Professor Harriet Hiscock, community screening specialist Professor Melissa Wake and adolescent mental health authority Professor George Patton.
Hadassah’s Professor Eitan Kerem is a participant in the symposium.