New medical unit to help millions breathe easier

Tuesday, 22 June 2004

A new medical research and education unit at the University of Adelaide aims to improve the treatment of respiratory diseases among millions of Australians.

The first of its kind in Australia, the new Primary Care Respiratory Unit is being launched at 3.30pm today - Tuesday, June 22.

Respiratory conditions such as asthma, bronchitis and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) are extremely common in Australia.

"Up to 25% of children have asthma, and approximately 14% of adults who smoke have COPD, so the potential benefits from our work are great - and this does not include the myriad of other lung diseases," says the Director of the Primary Care Respiratory Unit, Associate Professor Alan Crockett.

The new unit, part of the University of Adelaide's Department of General Practice, will provide general practitioners and other primary healthcare workers with the skills and knowledge to effectively identify and manage severe respiratory problems.

"There is evidence to suggest that some of the chronic lung diseases are not being recognised until a very late stage, and by then it is difficult to make major improvements in the health of the individual," Associate Professor Crockett says.

"Since asthma and COPD are significant community problems, there is a need for research, teaching and evaluation of the many treatments that can be used by primary care health professionals, which we believe will improve the health of many Australians."

Associate Professor Crockett has almost 40 years' experience in respiratory medicine and is internationally recognised for his research into Long Term Oxygen Therapy and COPD.

"We are running multiple courses for general practitioners and other primary care health professionals in the identification and management of chronic lung disease," he says.

"Benefits to the community will come from increased recognition and early detection, management and care of a range of respiratory illnesses."

Associate Professor Crockett says the new unit builds on existing research strengths within the Department of General Practice, and fills perceived gaps in both teaching and research.

"Our key research areas include asthma (two current National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) grants), acute bronchitis (one current NHMRC grant), and the development of guidelines for the management of COPD," he says.

"As well as undertaking teaching and research, the unit is developing collaborative links with other organisations and health professionals. Already we have established collaborations with experts in Australia, Canada, Poland and the United States."

The official launch of the Primary Care Respiratory Unit will be held at the Robson Lecture Theatre, Royal Adelaide Hospital, at 3.30pm today.


Contact Details

Associate Professor Alan Crockett
Director, Primary Care Respiratory Unit
Department of General Practice
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 7504
Mobile: 0409 673 566

Media Team
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 0814

Mr David Ellis
Deputy Director, Media and Corporate Relations
External Relations
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5414
Mobile: +61 (0)421 612 762