Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation
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2015 Grant Recipient Researchers

In 2015, our Grants Program awarded more than $4 million in project grants and career development grants to researchers across the globe, as well as people and infrastructure support.

Are you a Researcher?

Each year we invest millions of dollars in a range of cerebral palsy research projects in Australia and overseas.
Find out how our Grants program can help start or progress your project.
Applications for 2016 Grants open 1 July – 31 August 2016.


A/Professor Adrian Barnett

Queensland University of Technology, Institute of Health & Biomedical Innovation

Project Grant 2015
$20,000
Title: Researching the impact of cerebral palsy research.

This study will examine all research funding for Cerebral Palsy research in Australia during the last decade.


Greg Powell

Dr Greg Powell

JF Kapnek Trust, Harare. Zimbabwe

Project Grant 2015
$30,000 over 1 year
Decreasing the incidence of cerebral palsy in Harare, Zimbabwe by preventing acute bilirubin encephalopathy

Zimbabwe has an unacceptably high number of infants who develop cerebral palsy as a result of severe jaundice (52 cases per year compared with 7 in the United Kingdom). This form of cerebral palsy is preventable if effective treatment is instituted early. This grant will fund the purchase of bilirubinometers, which accurately measures levels of jaundice, and provide training to primary care nurses in the management of jaundice, to prevent jaundice-related cerebral palsy.


Dr Ana Aradhna Baburamani

Dr Ana Aradhna Baburamani

King’s College London

Project Grant 2015
$38,376 over 1 year
Exploring mitochondrial targets for neuroprotection in neonatal hypoxia-ischemia

Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE; restricted blood flow and oxygen to the brain during birth) occurs in 2-3 per 1000 term babies and is the leading cause of death and permanent, life-long disorders including cerebral palsy. A lack of oxygen ignites cell death processes, where the powerhouse of the cell, mitochondria, leak deadly proteins and this leads to devastating brain damage. This process takes place over hours to days suggesting that it is possible to treat and reduce injury. This project will determine what proteins are involved in initiating the cell death cascade in the brain, providing new targets for protection.


Ms Emily Shepherd (nee Bain)

Ms Emily Shepherd (nee Bain)

The University of Adelaide

Project Grant 2015
$23,542 over 2 years
Neonatal and infant adverse effects of antenatal magnesium sulphate for improving outcomes for mothers and babies: a systematic review

Antenatal magnesium sulphate therapy is commonly used in pregnancy to improve outcomes for mothers and their babies, including prior to very early birth to prevent cerebral palsy for children. The question remains, however, whether this therapy is also associated with unintended adverse effects (harms) for the child, in the newborn period or in infancy. This systematic review of the literature will answer this question, assessing whether there are harms, and if so, whether they vary by characteristics of the mother’s pregnancy and birth or the magnesium sulphate treatment that she received, so improving safety for the children.


Dr Angie Morrow

Dr Angie Morrow

The Children’s Hospital at Westmead

Project Grant 2015
$100,000 over 2 years
Chronic pain in cerebral palsy: A prevalence study and randomised controlled trial of biofeedback mediated relaxation via BrightHearts for the management of chronic pain in children and adolescents with cerebral palsy

The first part of this study will establish the prevalence of pain, its impact on functioning, life participation and quality of life, contributing factors and pain management strategies used in children and adolescents with cerebral palsy who attend rehabilitation clinics of two tertiary children’s hospitals in NSW. It will then evaluate the effectiveness of the BrightHearts app, which is a relaxation app that responds to changes in heart rate, to assist children and adolescents with cerebral palsy manage ongoing pain. This will occur through an initial pilot involving 10 children, followed by a four week randomised trial involving 62 children.


Dr Hayley Dickinson

Dr Hayley Dickinson

Hudson Institute of Medical Research

Project Grant 2015
$230,000 over 3 years
If creatine deficiency contributes to preterm brain injury, we have a simple intervention strategy to improve neurological outcomes for preterm babies

Creatine is an essential component of nutrition, and it protects the brain from injury! Our recent studies in pregnant animals suggests that preterm infants will be unable to synthesize creatine, because the kidney and liver – the organs that produce nearly all the creatine for our body – are immature at an age equivalent to <35 weeks of human pregnancy. Therefore, we will determine what happens to creatine levels in the blood and brain of preterm infants, and establish if creatine should be added to the formulas used to provide nutrition during the crucial days and weeks after preterm birth.


Professor Mohammad Muhit

Professor Mohammad Muhit

Child Sight Foundation (CSF), Bangladesh

Project Grant 2015
$39,841 over 1 year
Health related quality of life, including psychological and sexual wellbeing, of adolescents with cerebral palsy in rural Bangladesh and stress among their primary caregivers: Bangladesh CPQoL study

This research will describe the quality of life, in relation to health and wellbeing of adolescents aged 13-18 years old with cerebral palsy living in a rural sub-district of Bangladesh. Information will be collected from adolescents with cerebral palsy and their primary caregivers. Using face-to-face questionnaires and interviews participants will be asked questions about their/ their adolescent’s physical, psychological, social, and sexual wellbeing. The primary care giver will also be asked question about their own wellbeing in relation to anxiety and stress. This information will be used to guide the provision of resources and services to improve the long-term wellbeing of this population. This research will be conducted using the existing infrastructure of the Bangladesh Cerebral Palsy Register (BCPR) project.


Dr Graeme Polglase

Dr Graeme Polglase

Hudson Institute of Medical Research

AVANT Project Grant 2015
$123,395 over 1 year
Reducing brain injury by improving postnatal management of asphyxiated neonates at birth

Birth is one of the most dangerous times of our lives. The initiation of breathing is critical for providing oxygen to our organs and stabilising the circulation at birth. Infants born asphyxiated (low in oxygen) have a compromised circulation, which predisposes them to increased brain injury upon clamping of the umbilical cord. This application aims to optimise the transition at birth in asphyxiated infants, by initiating breathing/respiratory support prior to umbilical cord clamping. We contend that this will improve circulatory stability and thus reduce brain injury in this vulnerable cohort.


Professor Jonathan Morris

Professor Jonathan Morris

University of Sydney

AVANT Project Grant 2015
$42,416 over 1 year
Is exposure to tocolysis a risk factor for the development of cerebral palsy?

A common intervention that is used to try and delay preterm labour may have long term complications including cerebral palsy. This study aims to determine whether measures taken to stop contractions are harmful, particularly when combined with antibiotics.


Associate Professor Catherine Elliott

Associate Professor Catherine Elliott

Curtin University

STEPTEMBER Project Grant 2015
$50,000 over 1 year
Participate NOW: Optimizing participation for children with cerebral palsy and their families

Participate NOW is an intervention aimed at increasing active leisure and sports participation for children with CP, guided by individual child and family participation goals. Barriers to participation are carefully investigated and targeted on an individualized basis through one of two site-specific interventions. Families will access a 12-week motivational physiotherapy intervention, in either a child-parent dyad with a therapist in QLD or in groups of 3-4 children in WA. These interventions will equip children with CP, their families and local service providers with the skills and resources they need to maximize the active leisure participation outcomes for children with CP.


Ms Arlene D’Silva

Ms Arlene D’Silva

University of Western Sydney

Project Grant 2015
$14,940 over 1 year
Identification of Post Translational Modifications of serum proteins that are Predictive for Preterm Birth

This project will help to identify proteins circulating in the mother’s blood that are associated with preterm labour. Once these differences have been defined we will validate them in a second cohort of preterm births. The longer term plan is to assess these changes in serum taken from women at 12 weeks’ gestation, at a time when interventions can be made that will reduce the risk of subsequent preterm birth. Successful identification and validation of effective prognostic biomarkers will lead to paradigm shifts in clinical screening, prevention of preterm birth and of cerebral palsy in surviving infants.


Dr Bryan Leaw

Dr Bryan Leaw

Hudson Institute of Medical Research

Project Grant 2015
$141,890 over 2 years
Assessment of human amnion cells in reducing long-term neurocognitive impairment

Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), common in preterm infants, is associated with long-term impairment in learning and motor development, as well as brain disorders such as cerebral palsy. We have generated mice, which share clinical characteristics with human BPD. We will then treat these mice with human amnion epithelial cells (hAECs), a stem-cell-like population with which our lab leads in global research. Next, we will assess whether delivery of these cells to growing mice with BPD, can prevent long-term learning impairment in adulthood. This work will contribute greatly to pushing amnion cells into human clinical trials to treat preterm infants with BPD.


Ms Felicity Pidgeon

Ms Felicity Pidgeon

Office of Disability – Northern Territory Department of Health

Project Grant 2015
$12,984 over 1 year
Participation of Indigenous Children with Disabilities in a Remote Northern Territory Community

This study will investigate home and community participation of children with disabilities in a remote Northern Territory Indigenous community. Participants will include a number of children with Cerebral Palsy.
Participating children and families will use iPads to collect photos and videos of typical daily activities that children are involved in, both at home in the community. This will be followed by in-depth discussions with participants, to explore the meaning and significance of footage collected.
Research findings will be used to help improve the quality and relevance of allied health services for Indigenous children with disabilities in remote areas.


Associate Professor Margaret Wright

Associate Professor Margaret Wright

The University of Queensland

Project Grant 2015
$201,600 over 2 years
“Imagine Cerebral Palsy” Genome and Connectome study

Cerebral palsy arises from an early developmental brain insult. While some causes relate to altered blood flow, oxygen supply or infection to the immature brain, there are increasing links to genetic causes. There is limited knowledge about the relationship between the brain injury, genetics and outcome. A better understanding of the relationship between these factors will help us understand the nature, causal pathways and prospective outcomes of life long conditions like cerebral palsy.


Mr Xun Li

Mr Xun Li

University of Sydney

Project Grant 2015
$14,798 over 1 year
The Mechanisms of Behavioral Problems in Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy not only affects coordination in a children, it also affects their behavior. There are a significant number of children with cerebral palsy whom have behavior or emotional problems. These problems have a significant adverse effect on their and their family’s quality of life. This project aims to understand what influences these behaviors. If understood, it can lead to interventions that can improve a child and their family’s well-being.


Professor David Winlaw

Professor David Winlaw

Heart Centre for Children, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead

STEPTEMBER Project Grant 2015
$125,000 over 1 year
Comprehensive genetic analysis in neonates with congenital heart disease and associations with neurodevelopmental outcomes including autism, intellectual disability and cerebral palsy

Up to 20% of infants who undergo major cardiac surgery will develop a neurodevelopmental disability (NDD) including developmental delay, intellectual disabilities and cerebral palsy. Patient-specific factors (such as gene changes) play an important role as there are many known genetic syndromes in which both cardiac and neurological problems occur. Using next generation sequencing technology this study will identify genes and pathways that may lead to the development of both congenital heart disease (CHD) and NDD. Use of gene panels will allow earlier identification of at-risk infants and earlier referral to intervention programs to maximize their full potential.


Professor Elizabeth Elliott

Professor Elizabeth Elliott

University of Sydney

Project Grant 2015
$19,525 over 2 years
Hospital based-surveillance of cerebral palsy (CP) in Hanoi, Vietnam: a study towards developing national hospital based disease surveillance mechanism in Vietnam

This study will have a number of immediate social and public health benefits:
1) We will identify children with CP from the participating hospitals in Hanoi, Vietnam;
2) This prospective surveillance will provide baseline data on the estimated incidence, prevalence and profile of children with cerebral palsy and, the aetiology and risk factors for CP in Hanoi, Vietnam;
3) This cohort could be used as a sampling frame for future research e.g. to intervention trials to evaluate cost-effective intervention strategies to promote functional abilities and limiting secondary impairments in children with CP; and
4) this study will help us to evaluate the strengths and limitations of a hospital based disease surveillance mechanism in Hanoi, Vietnam and utilize this experience to extend the surveillance to national level.


Mrs Shona Goldsmith

Shona Goldsmith

Cerebral Palsy Alliance, Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney

Project Grant 2015
$20,695 over 1 year
An exploration of cerebral palsy aetiology: assisted reproductive technology and congenital anomalies

The causes of cerebral palsy are not well understood. This project will explore the role of two known risk factors for cerebral palsy: assisted reproductive technology and congenital anomalies. We will analyse data from large groups of people with cerebral palsy in Australia, looking at their history and their outcomes. This will help us better understand the impact of assisted reproductive technology on CP, and the co-occurrence of congenital anomalies and cerebral palsy. This exploration in an essential early step toward finding ways to prevent cases of cerebral palsy.


Ms Barbara Lucas

Ms Barbara Lucas

The George Institute for Global Health

Career Development Grant 2015
$2,725 over 1 year
Gross motor performance and prenatal alcohol exposure: effects and interventions

This career development grant will support my attendance and presentation of my research at the Australasian Academy of Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine (AusACPDM) 8th Biennial Conference, 30th March – 2nd April 2016, Adelaide Convention Centre. The following two abstracts have been submitted for conference consideration:
1. Gross motor performance in primary school aged children living in high-risk drinking communities in remote Australia – a population based study.
2. Improving Gross Motor Performance in Children with Neurodevelopmental Disorders: a Meta-analysis.


Mr Xun Li

Mr Xun Li

University of Sydney

STEPTEMBER Career Development Grant / PhD Scholarship 2015
$75,000 over 1 year
The Mechanisms of Behavioral Problems in Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy not only affects coordination in a children, it also affects their behavior. There are a significant number of children with cerebral palsy whom have behavior or emotional problems. These problems have a significant adverse effect on their and their family’s quality of life. This project aims to understand what influences these behaviors. If understood, it can lead to interventions that can improve a child and their family’s well-being.


Ms Hayley Smithers-Sheedy

Ms Hayley Smithers-Sheedy

Cerebral Palsy Alliance

Career Development Grant 2015
$10,500 over 1 year
Children with CP in NSW/ACT – molecular testing for cytomegalovirus (CMV) on stored newborn screening cards.
Plain English: The stored blood-spot study

Here we aim to test the newborn screening cards (NBSC) of children with CP recruited from the NSW/ACT CP Registers, for cytomegalovirus (CMV) DNA, to determine whether these children had cytomegalovirus at the time of their birth. We will determine the number and proportion of CP cases identified with CMV DNA. We will describe this group of children with CP and cytomegalovirus, and examine whether cases of severe CP (spastic quadriplegia) are overrepresented amongst children with cytomegalovirus, as has been previously hypothesized. Lastly we will compare the reporting of congenital CMV to the CP registers with the NBSC test results.


Centre of Research Excellence in Cerebral Palsy (CRE-CP)

Centre of Research Excellence in Cerebral Palsy (CRE-CP)

Murdoch Children’s Research Institute

Career Development Grant
$100,000 over 1 year
Future Research Leaders of Cerebral Palsy Research

The Centre of Research Excellence in Cerebral Palsy and Cerebral Palsy Alliance are committed to fostering the development of the next generation of leaders in cerebral palsy. As part of this commitment, a number of promising future leaders are participating in a Leadership Group as a professional development program. The key outcomes for the program are:

• To promote a peer support network
• To facilitate the sharing of knowledge
• To support leadership development
What does the program offer?
• An opportunity to attend regular leadership forums with other participants and guest speakers
• An opportunity to receive regular mentoring from a successful leader
• An opportunity to receive support to set and implement a personalised leadership development plan
• An opportunity to learn more about cerebral palsy and the disability sector by networking and developing relationships with other researchers across Australia
Places in the program for 2016 have been filled after a very competitive selection process. Congratulations to the 12 participants who will be building the skills and the network to help them become ambassadors and leaders in the field of childhood disability.
Website: http://www.cre-cp.org.au/initiatives/future-leaders-of-research/