Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation
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Our Researchers

There is no single cause of cerebral palsy – which means there could be many ways to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure cerebral palsy. To help us ‘join the dots’ on such a complex condition, we have a team of researchers from many disciplines whose expertise, experience and dedication are helping us find the answers as quickly as possible.


Professor Nadia Badawi

Professor Nadia Badawi AM

Macquarie Group Foundation Chair of Cerebral Palsy, The University of Sydney

Professor Badawi AM is an internationally recognised neonatologist with extensive experience working in the field of cerebral palsy.

In 2009 Cerebral Palsy Alliance appointed Professor Badawi as Australia’s first Chair of Cerebral Palsy to oversee projects funded by the Research Foundation. The position has been funded by the Macquarie Group Foundation and the Commonwealth Government.

Read Nadia’s full profile


Associate Professor Iona Novak

Professor Iona Novak

Head of Research, Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute, The University of Sydney

Professor Iona Novak is Head of Research at Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute, Sydney.

Professor Novak oversees the research activities of Institute and supports the Australian Cerebral Palsy Register.

Professor Novak is a Fulbright Scholar and her background is in occupational therapy with research interests in evidence-based practice; home programs; and neuroprotection.

Read Iona’s full profile


Sarah McIntyre PhD

Dr Sarah McIntyre

Senior Research Fellow & NHMRC Early Career Fellow, The University of Sydney

Sarah is responsible for the NSW/ACT Cerebral Palsy Register and is a policy member of the Australian Cerebral Palsy Register group.

She is a perinatal and paediatric epidemiologist and her current work focusses on the aetiology and prevention of cerebral palsy and neonatal encephalopathy, with a particular emphasis on birth defects.

With colleagues across the world, she is helping to establish the first international research network for cerebral palsy, IMPACT for CP.

Read Sarah’s full profile


Karen Walker

Associate Professor Karen Walker

Senior Research Fellow, IMPACT for CP

Associate Professor Karen Walker is a Clinical Research Fellow in the Grace Centre for Newborn Care at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead, and a Senior Research Fellow with the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute.

Karen completed her PhD in 2011 researching outcomes of infants admitted to neonatal intensive care units with her thesis entitled “Neurodevelopmental outcome at one year of age of infants who have undergone early major cardiac or non-cardiac surgery”.

Read Karen’s full profile


Petra Karlsson

Dr Petra Karlsson

Research Fellow

Petra began working in the field of cerebral palsy as a clinician in her native Sweden in 1996 before working in a similar position at Australia’s Cerebral Palsy Alliance.

Since 2009 Petra has worked at the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute, and is currently working on our CP Check-UpTM program and a number of other projects.

Read Petra’s full profile


Ms Cathy Morgan BAppSc (physio)

Dr Cathy Morgan

Research Fellow

Cathy has been working as a physiotherapist specialising in cerebral palsy for 10 years, and from 2012 as a researcher at the Research Institute of Cerebral Palsy Alliance.

She is a Research Fellow at the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute involved in coordinating the development of an international network of researchers focused on prevention and cure of cerebral palsy (IMPACT for CP). Cathy’s main research focus is on the early detection and early interventions for babies at high risk of cerebral palsy.

In 2016, Cathy was awarded her PhD at The University of Notre Dame Australia. For these studies, Cathy was the recipient of an NHMRC Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation Doctoral Scholarship.

Read Cathy’s full profile


Hayley Smithers-Sheedy

Dr Hayley Smithers-Sheedy

Research Fellow

Hayley is a Research Fellow at the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute, Sydney, and Adjunct Lecturer at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead Clinical School, The University of Sydney.

Hayley coordinates and supports the establishment, maintenance, and execution of research from the Australian Cerebral Palsy Register. She also supports the organisation’s strategic plan by building local and international research capacity aimed at preventing and curing cerebral palsy. In 2016, Hayley was awarded her PhD from The University of Sydney.

Read Hayley’s full profile


Dr Maria Mc Namara

Dr Maria Mc Namara

Research Manager

Dr Maria Mc Namara is the Research Manager at the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute, based at the Brain and Mind Centre, The University of Sydney.

Maria is responsible for the operational effectiveness of the research team, including the delivery of a diverse range of research projects aimed at prevention, treatment and cure of Cerebral Palsy. Maria has a PhD in Occupational Health (University of New South Wales) and a background in Organisational Psychology (University College Dublin).

Maria’s post-doctoral research fellowship at The University of Sydney focused on ageing workers and subsequently precarious employment. Her work examined the relationships between working conditions in organisations and individual and organisational outcomes (e.g. mental and physical health, job satisfaction, turnover). Maria has also worked in clinical trials in stroke research. She is particularly interested in knowledge translation of evidence based practice


Zoe Burrell

Executive Assistant to Chair of Cerebral Palsy and Head of Research

Zoe provides Executive Administration support to the Chair of Cerebral Palsy, Professor Nadia Badawi AM, and the Head of Research, Professor Iona Novak.

Zoe also assists with the administration of the Research Institute, the Research Foundation’s Grants Program and the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Human Research Ethics Committee.


Shona Goldsmith

Shona Goldsmith

Research Associate & NHMRC Postgraduate Scholar, PhD Candidate, The University of Sydney

Prior to joining the Research Institute in 2008, Shona worked as a physiotherapist specialising in working with children and adults with cerebral palsy and other complex disabilities.

Shona works on a range of Research Institute projects, assisting with literature reviews, ethics applications, data collection, analysis and writing. In 2015, Shona commenced her PhD Candidature at The University of Sydney.

Read Shona’s full profile


Ingrid Honan

Research Officer & PhD Candidate (MacquarieU), Provisional Psychologist

Qualifications: BPsyc (Hons), MClinNeuroPsych & PhD Candidate (Enrolled)

Ingrid joined the Research Institute at Cerebral Palsy Alliance in November 2015, and is currently completing a combined Masters and PhD in Clinical Neuropsychology. Prior to joining Cerebral Palsy Alliance, Ingrid has worked therapeutically with children with Autism as well as being involved in a large, longitudinal study of infant development.

In her current role, Ingrid provides research support to the Chair of Cerebral Palsy. Ingrid’s responsibilities include identifying research opportunities to address areas of need for adults with Cerebral Palsy, as well as assisting with work currently being conducted around cognitive assessment in infants with Cerebral Palsy.


Isabelle Baldé

Isabelle Baldé

Research Assistant

Isabelle began her career in her home country of Belgium and has since worked in several countries in Executive Assistant and Project Coordinator roles for both international corporate companies and small businesses.

In her current role Isabelle provides corporate administration support to the researchers at the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute.

Read Isabelle’s full profile


Abigail Townsend

Research Assistant

Qualifications: BHealthSci , MPubHealth

Abigail joined the research institute in October 2015 with a background in public health and experience in a variety of healthcare settings.

She is currently working as a Research Assistant supporting the CP Check-Up™, About CP and Early Intervention programs. In her role she is involved in developing content for About CP, providing data and administrative support for CP Check-Up™ and other general research and organisational duties.


Claire Galea

Research Associate, Statistician

Qualifications: BEdu, GDipStat, GDipVET, MEpid (Enrolled)

Claire is currently working as a Research Associate to support the Chair of Cerebral Palsy, and is undertaking statistical consultations involving data collection, analysis and reporting to assist researchers and clinicians.

Prior to joining the Research Institute in November 2015, Claire had an extensive career as a teacher specialising in mathematics and statistics. With a background in financial statistics, Claire is now enrolled in a Masters of Epidemiology (UQLD) and is currently undertaking research in the fields of CP genomics and early detection of cerebral palsy.


Yana Wilson

Research Officer, CP Genomics

Qualifications: BAppSci(Hons), MSc, MIntPubHealth (Enrolled)

Yana joined the Research Institute in March 2016 from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research. She is interested in using genomic tools and techniques to better understand the complex causal pathways underlying cerebral palsy. She is currently working as a Research Officer to support the Chair of Cerebral Palsy, identifying research opportunities and support in the area of CP Genomics.

A question she is frequently asked is what is the difference between genetics and genomics? Genetics to Yana is the study of a single gene in terms of heredity (parent to child transfer of genetic information); whereas, genomics considers all the genetic information, on all 23 chromosomes, their direct and indirect relationships and how this can influence development or a lifelong condition such as cerebral palsy.