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Healthy development

Healthy development fosters a child’s positive growth, focusing on achieving their full intellectual and physical potential, while avoiding long-term health challenges.

Our aim is to see more children experience healthy development and thrive.

Our healthy development focus

Our goal is to study how the biological foundations laid down during gestation and childhood affect development.

We will do this by better understanding why some illnesses start in childhood or even before someone is born, and how they change within the body over time.

Our healthy development research

In Australia, millions of people live with diseases and disorders like asthma, epilepsy and intellectual disability that begin in childhood and present lifelong challenges. These are often triggered by genetic and environmental causes that are not yet fully understood.

Many of these diseases don’t have effective treatments or cures.

Our research is focused on discovering better treatments and medicines, as well as ways to diagnose complex childhood diseases more easily.

We also have a strong global health focus. This aims to better understand the effects of maternal health factors, dietary deficiencies (e.g. low iron levels) and infectious diseases (e.g. malaria) on child growth in large populations, particularly in very poor countries.

Diseases in the spotlight

Some of our main disease priorities include:

A multi-faceted approach

Our multi-disciplinary approach combines cutting-edge technology and methods, with hands-on laboratory work to advance the discovery of better treatments for diseases that affect a child’s development.

We’re dedicated to unravelling the complexities of childhood development, as well as improving early detection of diseases that start in childhood, or even in the womb.

We are conducting research that spans from investigating genetics, immune responses and drug discovery to field studies and clinical trials, to applying mathematics, statistics and computer science to the study of biology.

Our expertise

Our expertise in the area of healthy development research is diverse, including:

  • diagnostic test development
  • developing new treatments and medicines for intellectual disability disorders
  • clinical and epidemiological studies that examine how often diseases occur in different groups of people and why. This includes large randomised controlled field trials and cohort studies
  • policy development with organisations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), to help set standards for health practices that benefit children worldwide.

Our collaborative approach

Our researchers, with expertise in epigenetics, population health and immunity, work together with local and international collaborators to unlock medical discoveries.

Our work is made possible thanks to the strong partnerships we have with our colleagues across the globe, as well as in remote parts of Australia.

Centre for Global Disease and Health

Bringing together teams from across WEHI to develop innovative solutions to some of the biggest health challenges affecting the world’s poorest people, particularly children.

Find out how you can support our research

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Illuminate Summer 2023
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