Newsletter may 2017

How times have changed:

“Asthmatics were not accepted for training as teachers in NSW and in Sydney, they could not train as nurses.”


This sobering excerpt, from an article published in late 1974 by the Sydney Morning Herald, is a far cry from how we now view asthma and its social impact. As a person with asthma and also referenced in the 1974 article, one of our steadfast supporters Mrs Lynette De Michiel (pictured left) defied the social norms of the time and received her training at the Armidale-New England Hospital. Lynette ultimately became a cardiotechnician.

Thankfully, research has changed our understanding of asthma and its management, and people with the condition are able to live unrestricted lives.


We can all benefit from new knowledge:

“It was scary! I could not even tell which was my left finger or right finger.”

KERSTIN BAAS, DONOR (pictured right)

This intriguing comment was made soon after Kerstin took part in a two-night sleep study as part of a current research project about obstructive sleep apnoea. As part of the study, Kerstin was made to wake up at 1.15am to induce a sleepy state. She was then asked to drive a car in a simulated environment while clicking buttons to indicate the place of flashing lights.

I often get asked why we conduct research into sleep disorders. That’s because sleep matters. Research shows, one in five Australians are getting less than six hours of sleep a night. A lack of sleep and/or poor quality sleep, which is common these days, can be attributed to higher rates of depression, heart disease, stroke and diabetes, not to mention the mistakes we make when we do not get enough sleep. More than ever, we’re seeing a greater need to better understand what sleep means to the quality of our life.

Important new initiative in lung cancer 

I am very proud to announce that we have begun work on the first purpose-built lung cancer research facility in Australia, right here at the Woolcock! It will transform today’s lung cancer research landscape and usher in a new chapter of discovery. Please keep a lookout for the announcement of the opening of the new Lung Cancer Research Centre! Due for completion later this year.

In order to generate new knowledge, funding is required! 

Our research must not and cannot stop. We need funding! Just like all research institutes, the Woolcock must apply to the Federal Government’s National Health and Medical Research Council for much needed funding. Unfortunately, the level of government funding is finite and evermore dwindling. Last year, only 14% of research projects across Australia received funding. Against this dire statistic, for every dollar the Woolcock raises through research grants and the clinics, we must raise another 65 cents to make the research happen, every year!

Donation from Kai and Mark

Recently, we received a donation from Kai and Mark, primary school students in Victoria. These two boys raised money by running a market stall at their school as part of their learning program about small business. These two boys have asthma and they want to make a difference.

It is stories like this that make me proud of what we do at the Woolcock; working with passionate researchers and our equally dedicated donors who are passionate about improving the lives of people with respiratory and sleep conditions.

You too can make a difference by donating to Australia's premier respiratory and sleep research institute 

You and your support are fundamental to our research, and we rely on the generosity and vision of our supporters. By making a donation through our annual giving programs, leaving a bequest in your Will or championing a special project, we can work together to make a difference to the quality of life of those with respiratory and sleep conditions.

Research needs resources but most importantly, research needs support from its advocates and volunteers, just like Lynette and Kerstin. There’s no doubt that the Lynettes and Kerstins of today, along with our passionate researchers, will make the future even brighter for the Marks and Kais of tomorrow.

So please donate today!

Professor Carol Armour
Executive Director


Understanding the effect of our environment on our lungs

  • Air pollution and mortality and morbidity in adult Australians
  • Understanding and ameliorating the human health effects of exposure to air pollution from knowledge to policy and public health practice

Disease detection

  • Application of the multiple breath nitrogen washout test for early detection and monitoring of airways diseases
  • Comprehensive physiological phenotyping of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) exacerbations
  • Detecting Smokers at risk of developing COPD

Monitoring disease

  • Home monitoring of lung function using forced oscillations in severe asthma: a prospective, proof-of-concept study

Better treating upper and lower airway disease

  • Activating Tristetraprolin, for treatment of corticosteroid-insensitive respiratory disease
  • Advanced nanotechnologies for targeting microorganisms growing on the inside lining of the airways 
  • Developing a medical device capable of targeting upper respiratory tract airways and an advanced drug delivery system capable of treating severe sinus infection
  • Engineering a drug delivery platform for DNA vaccines to the lung
  • Engineering anti-fibrotic depot aerosols that circumvent the epithelia
  • Tackling the two greatest obstacles to Tuberculosis elimination: Treatment of latent infection and drug resistant disease

Sleep, the brain and other body system

  • Investigating a possible relationship between altered sleep physiology and cognitive decline as well as neurodegeneration in older people with mild cognitive impairment
  • Modelling and software development for prediction of alertness and optimisation of scheduling and a data fusion system for the estimation, prediction and control of individual alertness dynamics
  • Sleep, plasticity and neurodegeneration: Targeting sleep to improve cognitive in Mild Cognitive Impairment
  • Sleep-wake disturbances and cardio-metabolic dysfunction in at risk dementia: a novel pathway in neurocognitive decline
  • Treating sleep apnoea after weight loss to maintain cardio-metabolic health in the obese with pre-diabetes
  • Weight loss and sleep apnea treatment for improving insulin sensitivity in pre diabetes