Exercise is medicine so why don’t general practitioners prescribe it?
Addressing barriers to GPs recommending regular exercise to patients is one of seven research projects from the University of Tasmania’s College of Health and Medicine to attract just over $4 million in support in the National Health and Medicine Research Council’s (NHMRC) latest funding round.
The project is being led by Dr Andrew Williams from the University’s School of Health Sciences, who said GPs could do more to include tailored exercise regimes as one of their prescriptions for health issues.
“Exercise is medicine and GPs are ideally placed to promote the benefits of regular exercise to their patients, but advice about exercise is rarely provided in GP consultations,” he said
“It is hoped this work will increase the use of exercise as a treatment by GPs resulting in a reduced burden on the health system from chronic disease.”
Dr Phillipa Taberlay received funding to advance her research into epigenetics, or the chemical and physical jigsaw puzzle that allows cells in different parts of the body to act in specific ways.
“This process becomes damaged with the advent of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, and it is important that we understand why this happens so that we can prevent or reverse disease progression,” Dr Taberlay said.
Other successful College of Health and Medicine recipients were:
Michael Thompson (Menzies Institute for Medical Research) - to research the balance between the risks and benefits of a lifetime of sun exposure.
Professor Lisa Foa (School of Medicine) - with defects between nerve cells underpinning developmental diseases such as autism, this research will look at ways of manipulating calcium signalling to control nerve-cell growth and nerve regeneration.
Dr Brad Sutherland (School of Medicine) – to look at how the degeneration of pericytes, a cell found only in capillaries, is linked to an energy deficit and memory issues in people with Alzheimer’s disease.
Professor Graeme Zosky (Menzies Institute for Medical Research/School of Medicine), pictured – to investigate the mechanisms linking mechanical ventilation with organ failure, using state of the art imaging techniques and experimental models, to help improve outcomes in patients suffering from respiratory failure.
College of Health and Medicine Executive Dean Professor Denise Fassett
said the successful research projects, being carried out by early to mid-career researchers, strongly reflected the College of Health and Medicine’s research strengths on the national stage.
“Our mission and vision for the college is to carry out research that leads to better lives, and the University’s medical research has a significant, positive impact on the community,” Professor Fassett said.
“This latest round of grants is a fine example of building research at the coalface that will make a difference more broadly and build on the College’s research flagships of obesity, dementia and multiple sclerosis.”
The grants bring with them additional block funding, which takes the total value to the University and the State to just over $5.5 million.
The NHMRC is Australia’s largest health and medical research funding body.