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imPACT – October 2021

Message from the Chair

Welcome to our third issue for 2021. Since the middle of the year, we have again seen increased imPACT of the ongoing global pandemic within our region. Recent events are a major challenge for many of our respiratory health professionals, patients, trials and researchers. The PACT team and I particularly send our thoughts and offers of support to colleagues in NSW and VIC. Thanks to all involved in the COVID-19 clinical response and those playing important roles by getting vaccinated and following other advice to limit the spread.

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As we close out Pulmonary Fibrosis Awareness Month in September, I would also like to take the opportunity to reflect on something more positive – recent Australasian highlights in PF research. At the Australasian Rare Lung Disease Conference in August, we heard the latest in PF research from local and international experts, and our emerging researchers dominated the awards. Read more about the conference direct from the convenor and PACT Steering Committee member, A/Prof Nicole Goh, in the Wrap up of the Australasian Rare Lung Disease Conference section below.

On behalf of the PACT team, I hope you enjoy this issue of imPACT.

Stay healthy and safe,

Professor Dan Chambers

PACT Chair

Message from the CRE-PF

Much has happened in the three months since our last CRE-PF update. In Sydney, we are three long months into lockdown and bracing for a surge in COVID-19 hospitalisations in the coming months. Colleagues in Melbourne are weathering their sixth round of lockdown. Wherever you are, I hope you are fully vaccinated and staying safe and well during this challenging time.

The CRE-PF team are once again adapting our research activities whilst our respiratory health professionals are called to the frontline of the COVID-19 clinical response. Despite this, we remain active in all of our work streams. We are committed to improving and extending the lives of people living with PF.

I would like to focus on this issue on CREATE, our researcher development program dedicated to building research capacity PF. The program, which was initially chaired by Prof Darryl Knight, and now by Prof Paul Reynolds, has so far successfully fostered the development of 37 early career PF researchers and counting. CREATE has assisted with 10 PhD scholarships and five postdoctoral fellowships; and awarded 13 travel grants and three grants to promote collaboration across institutes. A mentoring program and dedicated CREATE Symposia provide networking and professional development opportunities. During COVID-19 restrictions, monthly virtual research meetings have offered CREATE early career researchers from universities across Australia the opportunity to present their findings and engage with the PF research community.

CREATE research-related achievements and contributions to the research community are impressive, including over 80 first-author publications by early career PF researcher members, and many more conference presentations. We are thrilled to partner with Lung Foundation Australia for two new CREATE Hope postdoctoral fellowships in 2022, offering further support to emerging leaders in PF research. Read more about the CREATE Hope Fellowships here.

Yours sincerely,

A/Prof Tamera Corte

CIA for CRE-PF

Trials Update

Australasia remains at the forefront of PF trials with nine currently recruiting trials listed through PACT and more in development. However, there’s no escaping that at the moment, trial activities at many centres are impacted by redeployment of health professionals to the frontlines of the COVID-19 clinical response and by lockdown restrictions.

Information about current trials is available on the Find a Trial page of our website. If you are a patient interested in participating in a trial, we encourage you to talk to your treating healthcare team about getting a referral and finding out what is happening at the relevant trial centre.

 

Grants

Current grant opportunity relevant to PF clinical research and trials:

  • NHMRC Partnership ProjectsSupport connections, within the Australian context, that translate research evidence into health policy and health practice, to improve health services and processes. Closing 1 December 2021.

PACT Consumer Advisory Group

Earlier this year, we introduced you to the wonderful PACT Consumer Advisory Group who provide feedback and advice to the PACT Steering Committee on a range of issues relevant to PF research and clinical trials.

Consumer perspectives add great value to our clinical trials and research. Funding bodies and ethics committees increasingly emphasise the importance of consumer input in medical research. The PACT consumer advisory group can provide input at all stages of the research process, including development of research questions, research design including choice of patient-relevant outcomes, review of patient-facing research materials such as fliers and consent forms, interpretation of results, and promotion of findings.

The PACT Consumer Advisory Group have been trained to assist with research.

Contact PACT via alison.hey-cunningham@sydney.edu.au to find out more about how to seek consumer input for your research.

Wrap up of the Australasian Rare Lung Disease Conference

The biennial Australian Rare Lung Disease Conference 2021 took place virtually, across 2 weeks in August 2021, and continues to expand to cover multiple disciplines across the physician, radiology, scientific, patient and, for the very first time, primary care networks.

We show cased both international and national speakers in the field, and despite the challenges imposed by the COVID pandemic, Australian research continued to flourish.

Some of the research highlights included:

  1. the discovery of a novel, putative disease-causing variant in the surfactant protein A2 (SFTPA2) in an Australian family with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) – Dr Sionne Lucas, Tasmania; winner best scientific
  2. the role of B cells/ elevated autoantibody levels and their potential contribution to the pathogenesis of IPF – Miss Tylah Miles, Western Australia; winner best CREATE
  3. a machine learning algorithm utilising real world data from the Australian IPF registry which identified patients at risk of progression upon first presentation and at follow up – Dr John Mackintosh; Queensland; winner best clinical
  4. the findings that moderate resting hypoxaemia was an independent predictor of poor outcome in patients with fibrotic interstitial lung disease, with a similar prognosis to those with severe resting hypoxaemia, which was significantly worse than that for patients with chronic obstructive airways disease – Dr Yet Khor, Victoria; winner best poster

A/Prof Nicole Goh

Convenor ARLDC21

Upcoming Events of Interest

TSANZSRS 2022

TSANZSRS 2022 will be held at the Adelaide Convention Centre 31 March– 4 April 2022. Abstract submission now open, closing date 22 October 2021. Find out more and submit your abstracts here.

 

Public Lecture

Our very own Prof Anne Holland is giving the Monash University Central Clinical School annual public lecture for 2021, “‘Thank you for asking’: Addressing consumer priorities in respiratory medicine research”. Friday 29 October 12:30-1:30pm AEDT, find out more and register here.

 

Consumer Webinar

Presented in partnership by Lung Foundation Australia and the CRE-PF, learn about “Technology and Care in Pulmonary Fibrosis Management”. Monday 1 November 11:30am-12:30pm (AEDT), find out more and register here.

 

Health Professional Webinars

The first three webinars of our PACT series for health professionals in collaboration with TSANZ and the CRE-PF are now available to watch on demand now. Stay tuned for information about our final health professional webinar in the 2021 series in the upcoming months.

 

Virtual PF Research Meetings

The CRE-PF CREATE Australasian Pulmonary Fibrosis Virtual Research Meetings promoting collaboration and discussion amongst researchers interested in pulmonary fibrosis continue monthly. Contact Kate Christian on create@cre-pf.org.au to find out more about the program and how to join.

Five Minutes with a Pulmonary Fibrosis Researcher Prof Jo Dickinson, Menzies Institute for Medical Research, Hobart

Prof Jo Dickinson sat down with the PACT team to talk about her project “Genetic Research in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (GRIPF)”, including how it started, what the team hopes it will achieve and the challenges they’ve faced. Read more, here.

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Membership

The PACT network welcomes new members across all aspects of pulmonary fibrosis research, care and life with the condition. Join our growing community, today.

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