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Lung Growth and Environmental Health

Reducing the burden of lung disease in the community through understanding the modifiable risk factors and underlying mechanisms that contribute to the development of communicable and non-communicable lung disease.

Our group has three main areas of research which involve a combination of in vitro systems, in vivo models and epidemiological studies.

Early life origins of lung disease – in these studies we are focussed on understanding how the in utero and early post-natal environment impact on lung development, the immune system and metabolic function and how this influences the susceptibility to communicable and non-communicable diseases later in life.

Environmental health – a range of environmental factors contribute to the development and exacerbation of lung disease. In these studies, we are interested in how the physico-chemical characteristics of environmental exposures impact on the lung. A major focus of this work is the impact of these exposures on vulnerable populations in the community including those with existing disease and Aboriginal people living in regional and remote communities.

Lung structure and function – much of our work is underpinned by the use and development of novel techniques for assessing lung mechanics. We are collaborating with a number of research groups to develop novel lung imaging technology and have been using these techniques to improve outcomes in critically ill patients who require mechanical ventilation.

Our group has a range of opportunities available for potential PhD students; projects are usually developed by negotiation with candidates. Please contact for further information.

Specialist Fields and Areas of Investigation

  • Lung growth and development
  • In utero environmental exposures
  • Air pollution
  • Aboriginal health
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Arsenic in drinking water
  • Asthma
  • Respiratory infections (bacterial and viral)
  • Metabolic disease
  • Immune system development

Major achievements or grants

We have a sustained and internationally recognised research program that has attracted more than $6.5 million in competitive grant funding since 2010. Our work is regularly published in the leading journals in the field including American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Environmental Health Perspectives, Journal of Applied Physiology, American Journal of Physiology, The Journal of Physiology and Diabetes.

How does your group transform healthcare and ageing in Tasmania and around the globe?

Our work has influenced health policy, and health outcomes, in a range of areas. Highlights include contributing to the current guidelines on vitamin D and sun exposure, bringing global attention to the respiratory health impacts of arsenic exposure in drinking water in South-East Asia, identifying environmental contributors to health disparities in Aboriginal people living in remote communities and, more recently, contributing to the Senate Inquiry into the re-emergence of coal miners’ “Black Lung” in Australia.

Key Information

Research group head:

Other staff:

Contact details:

Medical Sciences Precinct, 17 Liverpool Street, Hobart


Phone: +61 3 6226 6921

Research theme areas:

  • Prevention and Management of Chronic Disease
  • Biomedicine