New director starts at MHIQ

Sheena Reilly

Research that is applicable to real life healthcare and which has positive impacts for the community is the focus for Professor Sheena Reilly, the newly appointed director of the Menzies Health Institute Queensland (MHIQ).

Professor Reilly says she is aiming to develop a program of research that has “people’s health built into it from day one.

“I don’t want research for the sake of it. Whether we are talking about clinical research, research in the laboratory or out in the community, there must be a strategy behind it from the start that means it is easily translatable into tangible health outcomes.”

The Menzies Health Institute Queensland – formerly known as the Griffith Health Institute – is positioning Griffith University as a leader in world-class research, and wasofficially launched by the Governor-General and Patron of the Menzies Foundation, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd), on Thursday 9 April.

This significant development is enhancingGriffith’s health research excellence through collaboration and resource sharing, as well as support greater engagement between academic researchers and healthcare professionals nationally and internationally.

Professor Reilly — previouslyAssociate Director of Clinical and Public Health at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and Professor of Speech Pathology at the University of Melbourne – says a key part of increasing health outcomes will entail MHIQ working closely with the Gold Coast University Hospital (GCUH).

“Working very closely with GCUH is something that will be built into our research strategy as a way of facing the clinical challenges that our health system is currently seeing.

“For example, nationally in Australia that there is a decrease in the number of children seeing GPs and an increase in the number presenting to hospital emergency departments. Of course children cannot be turned away from EDs, however there are opportunities to partner with the GCUH and the community to see what can be done about this problem.

“Partnering with health services to address their needs will be paramount and working with state and federal government will also form a part of this.”

An uncertain environment


Acknowledging the challenges of an increasingly uncertain funding environment, Professor Reilly admits that there will be changes ahead within MHIQ.

“Change is always challenging, especially as we don’t see much of a change ahead for research funding, but this relationship between two different organisations has the chance to be a very powerful thing.

“Part of the Gold Coast Health Strategic Plan details the need to negotiate joint research appointments with Griffith and I am looking to nurture that, with a supply of very focussed researchers that have the backing of the Menzies global reputation for excellence in discovery and innovation.”

Whilst Professor Reilly says that there are no specific disciplines to be focussed on at this stage, she says that she would like allied health to be the niche area that Menzies will be globally known for.

“Allied health professionals and nurses (18 and 35% respectively) make up the majority of the overall health workforce. About 10% of the workforce is comprised of medical professionals. At MIHQ we have a great opportunity to grow research leaders in allied health alongside those in medicine, so that MHIQ becomes the place to be for allied health researchers.”


Find out more about health careers at Griffith Gold Coast Campus Open Day on July 26.