Skip to content

News & Events

Congratulations Alex on winning a Westpac Future Leaders Scholarship!

We are proud to announce that Ms Alex Procter from the BetterStart Research Group has won a prestigious Westpac Future Leaders Scholarship, one of only two from the University and one of seventeen successful winners nationally from a large field of applicants from nine Australian universities across a wide range of disciplines.  The scholarship sought outstanding postgraduate students who are investigating solutions to some of Australia’s most complex issues.  There was a highly competitive process involved in applying for the scholarship, including an extensive application form, multiple interviews, a large selection panel and being observed in full-day workshops.  The scholarship is for up to $120,000 to undertake her PhD in Public Health, focusing on vulnerable children and how being born into a family on welfare affects those children’s life chances (also see Alex's entry on our Students page here).   More information can be found regarding the two University winners (Alex and Harry Carpenter, PhD Candidate in Engineering) on the University news website here; to read Alex’s Westpac profile, please click here.

Alex is delighted to have been chosen, saying "Whilst many individuals may have great leadership potential, few have the privileged opportunity to develop into their full leadership capability. The Westpac Future Leaders Scholarship means an investment in me. It is an investment in my values, my ideas and my potential."

Alex will also be involved in a nine-month leadership development program and will have the opportunity to study overseas for up to six months.  Alex did her Hons project on hospitalisations among South Australian children in 2017 with the BetterStart Research Group and in 2018, analysed child protection data and produced reports on a range of projects.   Congratulations Alex on a wonderful achievement; you are a very worthy recipient!

Wednesday, 27 February 2019


Welcome to our latest addition to the BetterStart team ...

We would like to give a warm welcome to our latest addition to our team, Dr Greer Humphrey, who has just completed her Master of Biostatistics with Dr Murthy Mittinty and Prof John Lynch, and now will be working on the recently announced Victorian Department of Health and Human Services collaboration.

Please visit our 'People' pages to learn more about Greer, including her background and projects.

Wednesday, 20 February 2019


Congratulations to members of our BetterStart team on winning School of Public Health teaching awards!

We would like to congratulate the following people from the BetterStart team for winning 2018 School of Public Health teaching awards:

  • Dr Cathy Chittleborough - Best Undergraduate Teacher;
  • Ms Alex Procter - Best Undergraduate Tutor/Practical Leader; and
  • Dr Rhiannon Pilkington – Academic Leadership within the School of Public Health.

Well done to all!

Monday, 11 February 2019


Collaboration with the Victorian Department for Health and Human Services

It's great to announce that Prof John Lynch, Dr Rhiannon Pilkington and Alicia Montgomerie have just signed a three year contract with the Victorian Department for Health and Human Services for $1,011,472, entitled “Research and data analytics to inform future DHHS policy and reform development”.  The team have been engaged by the Victorian DHHS based on their successful use of the SA Early Childhood Data Project to inform government wide child protection reforms in SA.

John, Rhiannon and Alicia will be using Victorian linked data and working with the Vic DHHS to develop, deliver and translate research focusing on families and children in contact with the child protection system, while building organisational capacity to use linked data to understand and address policy challenges.

We look forward to hearing more as the project progresses!

Thursday, 31 January 2019


Welcome to our three latest additions to the BetterStart team ...

We would like to give a warm welcome to our three latest additions to our team:  Mr Thomas Brown, who is undertaking research with us on children who thrive in adversity, following the success of Cathy and others from the BetterStart team with last year's round of Channel 7 grants, together with Ms Mi Du (who is doing her PhD) and Ms Anna Kalamkarian (who is an Hons student).

Please visit our 'People' and 'Students' pages to learn more about Tom and Mi, including their backgrounds and projects.

Thursday, 24 January 2019


Congratulations to Assoc Prof Lisa Smithers and Dr Murthy Mittinty on their NHMRC success!

We congratulate Lisa and Murthy on their success with their NHMRC grant of $980,692 entitled "OPTimising Mothers' Own Milk supply in the neonatal unit – enhancing breast milk supply with Domperidone in mothers of preterm infants (OPTIMOM-D)", with their colleagues Dr Luke Grzeskowiak, A/Prof Wendy Ingman, Dr Emma Knight and A/Prof Michael Stark. Well done to all!

Friday, 14 December 2018


Congratulations to BetterStart members and colleagues on the publication of their systematic review in Nature Human Behaviour!

Congratulations to BetterStart members Assoc Prof Lisa Smithers, Prof John Lynch, Dr Alyssa Sawyer and Dr Catherine Chittleborough, and their colleagues Dr Neil Davies and Prof George Davey Smith from the University of Bristol (UK), on their paper “A systematic review and meta-analysis of effects of early life non-cognitive skills on academic, psychosocial, cognitive and health outcomes”. This article is published in the prestigious journal, Nature Human Behaviour. One of the important findings from their review was that the quality of evidence in the field is lower than desirable, as only about 40% of 550 articles were judged to be of sufficient quality eligible to be included in the formal meta-analysis. The team show that non-cognitive skills among children age 12 and under are associated with improved outcomes, but the effects across the entire literature are highly heterogeneous and may over-estimate the true effects, potentially due to underpowered studies and publication bias. The publication is now available here.

Please visit The University of Adelaide news item for more information.

UPDATEThe paper has been awarded "Publication of the Month" for November 2018, by the Robinson Research Institute, and the winning authors will be able to share their prize, a bottle of Moet!  Congratulations to all!

Tuesday, 6 November 2018 | Tuesday 11 December 2018


Congratulations to BetterStart members on their success in the Channel 7 Research Foundation grants for 2018!

We had wonderful news last week with the announcement of the the following Channel 7 Research Foundation grants being awarded:

  • Cathy Chittleborough, Helena Schuch, Rhiannon Pilkington, Murthy Mittinty, John Lynch. Thriving in adversity: disadvantaged children performing well in school. $72,164;
  • Lisa Smithers, John Lynch, G Dekker, Elizabeth Hoon, J Telfer. How do we help more women quit smoking in pregnancy? $74,904;
  • SJ Zhou, Lisa Smithers, R Roberts. Maternal iodine intake, thyroid function in pregnancy and executive function of children at 6 years of age. $74,577;
  • Lisa Jamieson, Lisa Smithers, Joanne Hedges, John Lynch. The Baby Teeth Talk study: follow up at age 6 years. $75,000; and
  • Femke Buisman-Pijlman, Linda Gowing, Murthy Mittinty, Ian Symonds, Abdallah Salem. Early life adversity: trajectories to mental health and alcohol use. $60,000.

Well done all!

Monday, 5 November 2018


Welcome to our new student ...

We would like to give a warm welcome to our latest student, Cherise Fletcher (PhD Candidate), who has recently joined the BetterStart group to undertake research with us as part of her degree.

Please visit our 'People - Students' page to learn more about Cherise, including her background and project.

Monday, 5 November 2018


Congratulations to Dr Murthy Mittiny on a very successful workshop and to Ms Mumtaz Begum on her presentation at the recent AEA conference!

The Australian Epidemiological Association 2018 Annual Scientific Meeting was held in Fremantle, Perth, from the 22nd to the 24th October 2018.  Murthy's project, "Mediation analysis:  a counterfactual approach", was selected as one of the five half-day workshops which was attended by 55 people and also had a waiting list.

Mumtaz gave a mini-oral presentation from her PhD work on "Caesarean section and Type 1 diabetes risk among South Australian children, in the Perinatal Epidemiology section of the conference.

Well done Murthy and Mumtaz!

Monday, 5 November 2018


Another successful Advanced Epidemiology course by Prof John Lynch and Prof Tony Blakely

Once again, Prof John Lynch and Prof Tony Blakely conducted a short Advanced Epidemiology course over 3+1 days, this time in Melbourne from 24th to 27th September 2018, through the Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics. They provided a systematic overview of epidemiological concepts and methods, building up from sources of error (confounding, information bias, selection bias) to bias analysis methods, then a range of contemporary methods. As usual, the course was well attended and a great learning exercise.

Monday, 5 November 2018


Congratulations to Dr Anna Roelser on being conferred!

Our congratulations go to Dr Anna Roelser on being conferred for the award of Doctor of Philosophy. Well done Anna!

Tuesday, 2 October 2018


Congratulations to Dr Rhiannon Pilkington for her award winning poster!

Congratulations to Rhiannon and the BetterStart team for winning second prize (out of 244 posters presented at the conference) for a poster at the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN): XXII International Congress on Child Abuse and Neglect in Prague, Czech Republic (2–5 September 2018). The poster's title was How many children are known to child protection services and who are they? An Australian data linkage study and other authors included Janet Grant, Catherine Chittleborough, Angela Gialamas, Alicia Montgomerie and Prof John Lynch from the BetterStart group, and Julie Petersen (from the Department for Child Protection).

When presenting the award, Des Runyan (Head of the Conference Scientific Committee) said the poster was an excellent example of communicating complex data in an easy-to-understand way.

Rhiannon also did a presentation entitled "Developmental outcomes for children across levels of contact with child protection services:  an Australian data linkage study", while Alicia presented on "Young maternal age as a predictor of children’s experience of out of home care".  Another three posters were also presented at the conference:  from Dr Catia Malvaso (on child protection and youth justice detention); from Alicia (on how well child protection triages children at first notification, based on child protection re-notifications); and from Rhiannon (on how can we predict a child being notified to child protection by age 5 from birth).

Monday, 24 September 2018


Welcome to our new student ...

We would like to give a warm welcome to our latest new student, Dr Gabriella Lincoln (Master of Biostatistics), who has recently joined the BetterStart group to undertake research with us as part of her degree.

Please visit our 'People - Students' page to learn more about Gabriella, including her background and project.

Monday, 17 September 2018


Congratulations to Dr Fernanda Ewerling on being conferred!

Our congratulations go to Dr Fernanda Ewerling on being conferred for the award of Doctor of Philosophy. Well done Fernanda!

Thursday, 28 June 2018


Kids hit hard by junk food advertising

Congratulations to Assoc Prof Lisa Smithers, Dr Dandara Haag and Prof John Lynch from the BetterStart team, together with Benjamin Agnew from the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University, and Matthew Sorell from the School of Social and Community Medicine at the University of Bristol in the UK, who have had their paper entitled Food advertising on Australian television: Frequency, duration and monthly pattern of advertising from a commercial network (four channels) for the entire 2016 published in the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health. The paper generated a considerable amount of media interest, including a radio interview with Lisa on the topic.

Please visit The University of Adelaide news item for more information.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018


Welcome to our new students ...

We would like to give a warm welcome to our new students:  Dr Greer Humphrey (Master of Biostatistics); Ms Laura Gough, Ms Shae Pryke and Ms Kelsey Clifton (Master of Public Health); and Dr Razlyn Rahim (PhD), who have all recently joined the BetterStart group to undertake research with us as part of their degrees.

Please visit our 'People - Students' page to learn more about our new students, including their backgrounds and projects.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018


Congratulations to our students on being conferred!

Our congratulations go to our BetterStart staff, Dr Dandara Haag, Dr Helena Schuch and Dr Janet Grant, on being conferred for the award of Doctor of Philosophy in March 2018.  We look forward to celebrating with them when they graduate in September!

Friday, 9 March 2018


Congratulations to Dr Murthy Mittinty!

Our congratulations go to Dr Murthy Mittinty, who has has been awarded the prestigious 2018 Endeavour Executive Fellowship. He has won one of only 17 fellowships awarded in Australia and will undertake biostatistical research in causal inference at the Department of Applied Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science, University of Gent, Belgium, from March through August 2018.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017


Congratulations to our students who have submitted their theses!

We extend warm congratulations to our PhD students all of whom recently submitted their thesis for examination: Dandara Haag, Helena Schuch and Janet Grant. We wish you all the very best as we wait to hear the outcome!

... and welcome to our new students

Ms Amanda Reyes-Veliz (3rd year undergraduate) and Mr Yi Wang (MPH student) have recently joined the BetterStart group to undertake research with us as part of their degrees. We also welcome PhD students Anna Roesler, Pedro Ribiero Santiago and Davi Manzini Macedo as part of the extended BetterStart group.

Check out our 'People - Students' page to learn more about our amazing students, their backgrounds and their projects.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017


We're hosting a visit by Professor Aluisio Barros

For the next 5 weeks, the BetterStart group are hosting a visit from Professor Aluisio Barros, Universidade Federal de Pelotas, Brasil. On Friday 1st September at 12:30 pm, Professor Barros will be presenting his work on health inequalities at The University of Adelaide's AHMS Building, Room 3066.

Monday, 28 August 2017


Finalists in SA Science Excellence Awards

The BetterStart Research group have made it to the finals of the SA Science Excellence Awards!!

Watch a video describing the linked data work we are doing in partnership with government, which aims to support families and children.

Friday, 11 August 2017


Congratulations Dr Amelia Maika!

Our former PhD student Amelia Maika has been awarded a Doctor of Philosophy with a Dean's commendation! Her thesis was entitled Effects of inequality, family investment and early childhood intervention on child cognitive and
socio-emotional wellbeing in Indonesia.

Friday, 22 July 2016


BMI and children's development at entry to school

Our visiting fellow, Dr Anna Pearce (who has returned to the University College London), led research to examine links between children's BMI and their development when they started school. This work was recently published in a special issue of Early Childhood Research Quarterly and was picked up by our local Adelaide newspaper, The Advertiser.

Monday, 30 November 2015


The EMPOWER: Health Systems, Adversity and Child Well Being Centre of Research Excellence awarded $2.49 million from the Federal Government in the recent NHMRC grant round

The EMPOWER Centre for Research Excellence (CRE) will focus on early life prevention of problems that disrupt optimal trajectories of child health and development. Poor child health and development impacts on society as a whole, ultimately affecting labour market success and the broader economy. The CRE deploys four research platforms to improve the lives of disadvantaged children. Platform 1 is the core of the CRE, where the team will conduct rigorous evaluations of interventions embedded within the antenatal, postnatal and community-based health system to provide clinicians and practitioners with more tools to reduce the burdens of early life adversity on child health and development. These pragmatic RCTs will be supported by complementary research platforms around data linkage, cohort analysis and causal inference methodology.

The CRE is a unique interdisciplinary collaboration among leaders in the antenatal and postnatal health system, public health, epidemiology, maternal, child and adolescent mental health, obstetrics and gynaecology, placental physiology, primary care, economics and biostatistics. The EMPOWER CRE is a collaboration of the BetterStart Research Group at The University of Adelaide School of Public Health and the Robinson Research Institute.

Congratulations to lead Chief Investigator, Prof John Lynch, and all other Investigators: Prof Michael Sawyer, Prof Ben Mol, Prof Claire Roberts, Prof Gus Dekker, Prof Nigel Stocks, Assoc Prof Stefanie Schurer, Assoc Prof Lyle Gurrin, Adjunct A/Prof Naomi Dwyer (CE of SA WCHN), Kerrie Bowering (Director SA CaFHS), Deb Jeffs (Clinical Director, SA CaFHS), Lynda Dandie (Health Information & Decision Support, SA WCHN), Dr Oliver Frank, Dr Murthy Mittinty, Prof Catherine Law, Prof Deborah Cobb-Clark, Assoc Prof Lisa Smithers and Dr Catherine Chittleborough.

Monday, 9 November 2015


Professor John Lynch inducted into the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences

Congratulations to Prof John Lynch for his induction as a Fellow into the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences at the inaugural Scientific Meeting, held in Canberra, alongside seven other academics from the Faculty of Health Sciences. Prof Ian Frazer, President of the Academy, welcomed the new Fellows and said that their election was evidence of their international standing and contribution to health and medical science through research, leadership and service. The Academy provides an impartial and authoritative voice for healthcare, informed by the best available evidence and expert advice from the best and brightest in health and medical research.

Monday, 19 October 2015


Access to high quality child-care closes the gap for disadvantaged children: an opinion piece

Dr Angela Gialamas and Professor John Lynch were invited to write an opinion piece for the Early Learning Review based on a study led by Dr Gialamas and published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. The piece discusses the benefits of high quality child care, and that it could be used as one way to reduce inequalities in outcomes for disadvantaged children.

Thursday, 1 October 2015


BetterStart research presented at the 2015 Population Health Congress

Dr Alyssa Sawyer and Dr Angela Gialamas recently gave oral presentations at the Population Health Congress held in Hobart, Tasmania. Alyssa presented two papers, one looking at early self-regulation and later behavioural problems in children and another looking at who receives postnatal health checks when service provision changes to become universal. Angela presented work on the identification of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in linked data held by different government departments. This work involved collaboration between the BetterStart team and the Wardliparingga Aboriginal Research Unit at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute.

Monday, 7 September 2015


Advanced Epidemiology: A short course taught by Prof John Lynch and Prof Tony Blakely

Professors Lynch and Blakely team up once a year to teach a 4-day course in advanced epidemiology covering topics such as directed acyclic graphs (DAGs) for causal inference, systematic error, quantitative bias analysis, effect measure modification and interaction, and many other contemporary epidemiological methods. This year the course was delivered as a pre-conference workshop to the Population Health Congress in Hobart. Past attendees have commented on how useful this course was, “This was by far the most useful short course I have ever done. It was an excellent summary of epidemiological advances. I would recommend it to anyone working in, or studying, epidemiology at a moderate to advanced level.”

Look out for this course in years to come!

Thursday, 3 September 2015


Welcome to our new PhD students

Veronica Smyth has recently commenced a PhD with the BetterStart group. Her project aims to understand the mechanisms linking early socioeconomic disadvantage to language development and later academic achievement. Veronica will look at the effect of parent's use of language during infancy on children's language abilities when they start school, and whether this effect differs by socioeconomic disadvantage.

Megan Rebuli has moved from working on the Baby Teeth Talk (BTT) study to making this study the focus of her PhD. Megan’s project involves follow-up of the BTT trial, which aims to reduce health inequalities experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Her project will assess the nutritional intake, dietary patterns, and health and social outcomes of the children in the study.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015


Healthy Development Adelaide Thematic Evening on 'The preschool years'

Angela Gialamas presented on the importance of high quality child care for low income children at the HDA thematic evening on 'The preschool years', to an audience of over 150 attendees. Angela's presentation was entitled High quality child care: reducing school readiness gaps for children from socioeconomically disadvantaged families.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015


BetterStart Postdoc on NHMRC Honour Roll for external assessment

Every year, the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia ask for the research community to undertake peer review of grant applications. The review panel spokespersons nominate an assessor whose review was of particularly high quality and of significant benefit to the deliberations of the panel. BetterStart researcher, Dr Alyssa Sawyer, appeared on the NHMRC list of reviewers who made an outstanding contribution.

Friday, 10 April 2015


Philadelphia calling

Recent PhD graduate, Angela Gialamas, presented a poster at the Society for Research in Child Development in Philidelphia USA. Angela reported it was a huge and inspiring meeting.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015


Pelotas calling

John Lynch visited collaborators at the Federal University of Pelotas in Brazil. This resulted in some exciting research collaborations and co-supervision of two PhD students who will hopefully be visiting Adelaide in the next year or two.

Monday, 23 March 2015


London calling

John Lynch visited collaborators at the Institute for Child Health in London. This resulted in a joint workshop to be held in July 2015 in London around causal mediation analysis in child health and development.

Friday, 20 March 2015


School results are boosted by improved focus in class

School Girl by Elinor age 5

"School Girl", by Elinor age 5

Dr Alyssa Sawyer, from the BetterStart group, led a study looking at the association between children's development and self-regulation in the preschool years and children's academic achievement in the first years of school. Alyssa also helped with the translation of this research for teachers and educationalists working with young children, by writing pieces for the Centre for Education Research and Practice and the Curriculum & Leadership Journal.

University of Adelaide Media Release | Thursday, 4 December 2014


Early intervention could boost children's education

Dr Cathy Chittleborough has cleverly modelled different interventions and shown how early interventions could enhance children's academic outcomes. This work was published in the journal Child Development, which is arguably the leading journal in this field. Well done Cathy! This research was reported across the globe including at Kinderopvangtotaal (The Netherlands), UK Ed Chat (The UK), and Adelaide Now.

University of Adelaide Media Release | Wednesday, 22 October 2014


Time spent in childcare centres linked with poor behaviour

Our up-and-coming media star and PhD student Angela Gialamas has again garnered the interest of the media for her newly published study showing how the time spent in childcare is linked to behaviour of children. The highly topical nature of this work is shown by the numerous reports across different media in Australia (The Australian, NT News, Newsmaker, Gold Coast News, Adelaide Now) and overseas (The Daily Mail, UK; USA News), and by various institutions and websites (Growing Up in Australia, Kidspot, Nursery World, Counsel&Heal).

University of Adelaide Media Release | Tuesday, 29 October 2014


Quality childcare leads to benefits at school age

PhD candidate, Ms Angela Gialamas, reported how higher quality in childcare may lead to long-term improvements in academic outcomes for children at middle-primary school. This research was reported in the Journal of Pediatrics and picked up by the following media outlets; Adelaide Now, Campus Review, the Australian Institute of Family Studies website, Our Million Opportunities, radio 2ser, and MDLinx.

University of Adelaide Media Release | Monday, 25 August 2014


How accurate is child mental health screening at 4 years?

Dr Alyssa Sawyer, from the BetterStart group, led a study looking at the potential accuracy of screening young children for mental health problems in response to the debate about whether the Healthy Kids Check should screen children for mental health problems. The study was reported in outlets including the Medical Observer and the Australian Doctor.

Alyssa also helped with the translation of this research co-authoring a piece for The Conversation.

University of Adelaide Media Release | Tuesday, 11 February 2014


IQ linked to baby's weight gain in first month

BetterStart research led by Dr Lisa Smithers, showed that infant's growth in the first month of life was linked to their later IQ.

University of Adelaide Media Release | Monday, 17 June 2013


Children's healthy diets lead to healthier IQ

Dr Lisa Smithers, from the BetterStart group, led a study looking at links between the dietary patterns of toddlers and their IQ at 8 years of age.

University of Adelaide Media Release | Tuesday, 7 August 2012


Policy shift needed to improve outcomes for mothers and children

Dr Cathy Chilttleborough and colleagues showed how policy changes are needed to support teenage mums and their babies. This research was cited in various local and international outlets including Adelaide Now, MD News, Essential Baby website, Bristol 247 and Nursery World (UK).

May 2011

BetterStart Research Group
Address

Level 9, Adelaide Health and Medical Sciences Building
Corner of North Terrace and George Street
Adelaide SA 5000

Contact

T: +61 8 8313 2160
Email

Find Us Online

Health Sciences on Flickr   Health Sciences on YouTube   Subscribe to our News & Events RSS