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Research Programs

Our researchers aim to undertake collaborative research activities that benefit the community and contribute to Healthy Ageing.

We are part of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Centre of Research Excellence: Trans-disciplinary Frailty Research To Achieve Healthy Ageing.

Our Centre is affiliated with the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence - Translating Nutritional Science To Good Health. We are also a collaborating centre of the new SA Academic Health Science and Translation Centre.

We currently have research collaboration with four aged care providers and this include Resthaven Inc., ECH, ACH Group and Southern Cross. We hope to continue to expand our research in collaboration with the aged care sector.

Biostatistics and Health Economics research features in a large proportion of our research and this is achieved through collaboration with Dr Kylie Lange from the School of Medicine and Professor Jon Karnon from Health Economics.

  • Frailty

    The frail person has reduced resilience and may experience weakness and exhaustion without disability. When struck down by illness, the person has reduced reserve and so, is affected badly and has reduced chances of recovery.

    By 2050 it is estimated that up to 4 million older Australians will be at-risk of frailty or frail. There is very little research in this area in Australia. To do nothing will mean that the spiralling costs of health and aged care will be unaffordable. Researchers are interested in better understanding the disease burden and the impact of risk and frailty on future health outcomes.

    Researchers are also interested in better understanding the distribution and costs of the disease. In partnership with consumers, treatment (e.g. nutrition, exercise, medication optimisation etc.) to prevent the development or progression of frailty will be explored.

    Our Centre is collaboratively associated with three international centre of clinical and research excellence in frailty through:


    • Professor Renuka Visvanathan
    • Associate Professor Solomon Yu
    • Dr Natalie Luscombe (CSIRO)
    • Dr Olga Theou (Dalhouise University)
    • Agathe Jadczak – PhD Candidate
    • Mark Thompson – MPhil Candidate

    Key Publications

    • Kaehr R, Visvanathan R, Malmstrom T, Morley J. Frailty in Nursing Homes: The FRAIL-NH Scale. J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2015; 16(2): 87-89.
    • Visvanathan R, Yu S, Cesari M, Beilby J. Sarcopenia and Frailty. Australian Doctor March 2015.
    • Theou O, Yu S, Rockwood K, Visvanathan R. A Focus On Frailty Is Essential Given Population Ageing. Medicine Today 2015; 16(8):28-33.
    • Dent E, Chapman I, Piantadosi C, Visvanathan R. Frailty and Functional Decline Indices Predicts Poor Outcomes of Hospitalised Older Persons. Age & Ageing 2014; 43(4):477-484.
    • Visvanathan R. Nutritional Frailty: Unrecognized Threatens Independence. Int J Evidence-Based Healthcare 2009; 7(4): 231-232.
    • Dent E, Chapman I, Piantadosi C, Visvanathan R. Frailty and Functional Decline Indices Predicts Poor Outcomes of Hospitalised Older Persons. Age Ageing. 2014 Jul;43(4):477-84.
  • Sarcopenia

    Sarcopenia is a major contributing factor to the development of frailty. Sarcopenia is said to exist when there is both a loss of muscle mass and muscle performance. Loss of muscle performance manifests through a loss is strength and walking speed.

    Researchers have identified that this is a common problem in Australia and have developed a new screening tool that is applicable in aged and primary care settings. Researchers are interested in clarifying the impact of sarcopenia on future outcomes including cost. They are also interested in further exploring the performance of the screening tool and also improve on the tool and have formed a new collaboration with Professor Patty Solomon from the School of Mathematics at the University of Adelaide.


    Key Publications

    • Yu S, Appleton S, Adams R, Wittert G, Visvanathan T, Visvanathan R. Diagnostic accuracy of locally determined anthropometric-based appendicular skeletal muscle prediction equation in predicting low muscle mass. J Am Med Dir Assoc 2015; 16(1): 25-30.
    • Yu S, Appleton S, Adams R, Wittert G, Chapman I, Visvanathan T, Visvanathan R. The impact of Low Muscle Mass definition on the Prevalence of Sarcopenia in older Australians. Biomed Res Int. 2014;2014:361790.
    • Yu S, Umapathysivam K and Visvanathan R. Sarcopenia In Older People. Int J Evid Based Healthc 2014; 12(4):227-243Yu S, Visvanathan T, Field J, Ward L, Adams R, Chapman I, Wittert G and Visvanathan R. Lean body mass: development and validation of prediction equations. BMC Pharmacol and Toxicol 2013; 14:53.
    • Bauer J, Biolo G, Cederholm T, Cesari M, Jentoft AC, Morley JE, Phillips S, Sieber C, Stehle P, Teta D, Visvanathan R, Volpi E, Boirie Y. Evidence-based recommendations for optimal dietary protein intake in older people: a position paper from the PROT-AGE study group. Journal of the American Medical Directors Association 2013; 14 (8): 542-59.
  • Malnutrition in Older People

    Our researchers are recognised internationally for the research area of under-nutrition in older people. With increasing age, there is a loss of appetite and this is referred to as the Anorexia of Ageing. With ensuing weight loss, there is increased risk of developing Sarcopenia. Both malnutrition and sarcopenia are associated with increased risk of frailty.

    Researchers have increased awareness through their research and contributed to the development of screening strategies to identify risk. Researchers are very interested in developing treatment strategies.


    Key Publications

    • Visvanathan R, Piantadosi C, Lange K, Naganathan V, Hunter P, Cameron ID, Chapman I. A randomised placebo controlled trial investigating the effect of testosterone and a nutritional supplement on hospital admissions in undernourished community dwelling older people. J Nutr Health Aging In Press September 2015.
    • Bauer J, Biolo Development G, Cederholm T, Cesari M, Jentoft AC, Morley JE, Phillips S, Sieber C, Stehle P, Teta D, Visvanathan R, Volpi E, Boirie Y. Evidence-based recommendations for optimal dietary protein intake in older people: a position paper from the PROT-AGE study group. Journal of the American Medical Directors Association 2013; 14 (8): 542-59.
    • Chapman I, Visvanathan R, Hammond AJ, Morley JE, Field JBF, Tai K, Belbrajdic D, Chen RYT, Horowitz M. The effects of testosterone and nutritional supplements, alone and combined, on hospital admissions in under-nourished community dwelling older people. Am J Clin Nutr 2009; 89 (3): 880-889.  
    • Piantadosi C, Visvanathan R, Naganathan V, Hunter P, Cameron ID, Lange K, Karnon J, Chapman IM. The effect of testosterone and a nutritional supplement on hospital admissions in under-nourished, older people. BMC Geriatrics 2011; 11: 66-73. 
    • Visvanathan R, MacIntosh M, Callary M, Penhall R, Horowitz M, Chapman I. The Nutritional Status of 250 Older Australian Recipients of Domiciliary Care Services, and it’s Association with Outcomes at 12 months. J Am Geriatr Soc 2003; 51:1007-1011.  
    • Visvanathan R, Penhall R, Chapman I. Nutritional Screening of Older People in a Sub-acute Care Facility in Australia and its Relation to Discharge Outcomes. Age and ageing 2004; 33(3): 260-265.   


    • 2010-2012 NHMRC Project Grant $1,018,438 The effects of testosterone and a nutritional supplement on hospital admissions in under-nourished, older people. Chapman I, Visvanathan R, Naganathan V, Hunter P, Karnon J, Horowitz M, Lange K, Cameron I.
    • 2012-2017 NHMRC Centre For Research Excellence $2,499,990 million. Translating Nutritional Science to Good Health. Chief Investigators- Horowitz M, Wittert G, Clifton P, Blackshaw LA, Rayner C, Chapman I, Feinle-Bisset C, Jones K, Noakes M, Chapman M. Associate Investigators Beckett E, Deane A, Heilbronn L, Kitson A, Little T, Luscombe-Marsh N, Nguyen N, Page A, Shi Z, Turnbull D, Visvanathan R, Young.
  • Gerontechnology

    Our inter-disciplinary research team is focused on the development of technology solutions that are not only consumer centred but aimed at supporting independence.

    Our research focuses around the geriatric themes which are the focus of this centre (e.g. frailty and nutrition).

    The AMBIGeM project is underway.

    Collaboration: Auto ID Lab lead by Dr Damith Ranasinghe, University of Adelaide.


    Researchers have been working to develop a movement sensor alarm system using radio frequency identification devices (RFID) technology to prevent falls in hospital or aged care.


    • Dr Damith Ranasinghe, University of Adelaide
    • Professor Anne Wilson, University of Adelaide
    • Professor Keith Hill (physiotherapy), Curtin University
    • Roberto Shinmoto Torres – PhD Candidate
    • Asanga Wickramasinghe - PhD Candidate
    • Dr Pazhvoor Shibu, Geriatrician, TQEH
    • Mr Stephen Hoskins, Clinical Service Consultant, TQEH

    Key Publications

    • Ranasinghe D, Shinmoto TR, Hill K, Visvanathan R. Detecting movements into and out of bed: preliminary development and evaluation of a movement sensor system. Gait and Posture 2014 Jan;39(1):118-23.
    • Teh R, Mahajan N, Visvanathan R, Wilson A. The effectiveness of health technology for falls prevention and detection and perspectives of aged care staff: an integrative review. Int J Evidence Based Healthcare (In Press 2014).


    • NHMRC Project Grant 2015-2017: $1,609,305.90 Effectiveness of an Ambient Intelligence Geriatric Management system (AMBIGeM) to prevent falls in older people in hospitals: the AMBIGeM stepped wedge randomised trial. Chief Investigators: Professor Renuka Visvanathan, Professor Keith Hill, Dr Damith Ranasinghe, Kylie Lange, Professor Anne Wilson.
    • ARC Discovery Grant 2016-2018: $40,000 A novel class of wearable textile antennas for non-invasive monitoring of older people. Professor Christophe Fumeaux and Dr Damith Ransinghe.
    • 2014 The Queen Elizabeth Hospital Committee of Graduate Study Conference Scholarship to Dr Ruth Teh
    • 2014 Best Advanced Trainee Presentation - SA Division Australia and New Zealand Society for Geriatric Medicine Scientific Meeting to Dr Ruth Teh
  • AMBIGeM NHMRC Project

    The AMBIGeM study is one of the Gerontechnology projects underway.

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    The AMBIGeM (Ambient Intelligent Geriatric Management system) aims to prevent falls in hospitalised older people who are at risk of falling. Falls in hospital are the most common safety incident reported and is most common in wards where there are large numbers of older people and people with cognitive impairment, despite falls prevention strategies being implemented.

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    This innovative technology system will detect hospitalised older people moving in an individually assessed, high falls risk movement, such as walking unaided. The AMBIGeM system would then immediately send a message to the patient’s nurse to check on the patient and provide assistance if necessary.  The technology would augment best practice falls prevention.

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    The trial is designed as a stepped wedge randomised controlled trial and will be conducted at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Adelaide and Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth.

    The Statistical Analysis Plan for the AmbIGeM study is available here.

    The Economic Analysis Plan for the AmbIGeM study is available here.

    The overarching aim of the study is to assess the effectiveness of the AMBIGeM system in reducing the falls rate in hospitalised older people, in a real life clinical environment. Other aims are to conduct an economic evaluation and patient and staff acceptability evaluation of the AMBIGeM system.


  • Post-prandial Hypotension

    Post-prandial hypotension (PPH) occurs commonly in older people and refers to the fall in blood pressure seen within two hours of a meal, most commonly after breakfast. Researchers have been interested in investigating the impact of PPH on gait as well as the impact of exercise on blood pressure post meal. Researchers are also exploring the cardiovascular mechanisms associated with PPH in healthy older people.


    Key Publications

    • Nair S, Visvanathan R, Gentilcore D. Intermittent Walking Attenuates Fall In Blood Pressure Following A Glucose Drink In Older People With Postprandial Hypotension. JAMDA (In Press 2014).
    • Gentilcore D, Visvanathan R, Russo A , Chaikomin R, Stevens J, Tonkin A, Horowitz M, Jones KL. Effects of the nitric oxide synthase inhibitor, L-NAME, on postprandial blood pressure and gastric emptying in healthy older subjects. American Journal of Physiology-Gastroenterology and Liver Physiology 2005 288(6):G1227-1232.


    • 2012 Dr Diana Gentilcore RM Gibson Research Grant from the Australian Association of Gerontology


    • 2014 Basil Hetzel Institute Research Day Clinical Prize to Dr Shailaja Nair
    • 2013 Basil Hetzel Institute Research Day Clinical Prize to Dr Shailaja Nair
    • 2013 Dr Shailaja Nair RM Gibson Prize Platform Presentation Australia and New Zealand Society for Geriatric Medicine Annual Scientific Meeting
  • Medication in the Elderly

    Older patients because of multiple chronic conditions may be on many prescription and over the counter medications. The researchers are interested in determining how best to support appropriate prescribing practices within the community and hospitals.


    Key Publications

    • Lonnroos E, Ilomaki J, Visvanathan R, Bell S. Initiation of antihypertensive therapy is associated with an increased risk of hip fracture. Aging Health. (In Press 2013; accepted January 18th)


    • 2013 Bell S,Hilmer S, Vitry A, Visvanathan R. Alzheimer’s Australia- Resthaven Dementia Grant- ‘Analgesic load, pain and daytime sedation in people with dementia in aged care facilities’ $150,000
  • Dementia Diagnosis & Management

    The geriatrics service is heavily involved in the provision of clinical services to older people with dementia and their carers across the spectrum of disease from diagnosis to more severe dementia. Therefore, we are also interested in research that will aid the early diagnosis of dementia as well as contribute to better health outcomes into the longer term. Dr Faizal Ibrahim currently is leading a collaboration with Ballarat Health Service on the national roll out of the 'The Dementia Care In Hospitals Program'.

    This project has already commenced at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Dr Solomon Yu is collaborating with Dr Mitchel Goldsworthy and A/Prof Ridding from the Robinson Institute, University of Adelaide which is investigating transcranial magnetic stimulation-electroencephalography (TMS-EEG) as a tool to identify early synaptic dysfunction in Alzheimer’s Dementia. Professor Visvanathan is collaborating with Professor Julie Ratcliffe and Dr Ruth Walker to undertake research that will contribute to the development of better dementia diagnostic services nationally. Currently, they have completed pilot research to understand the experience of older consumers recently diagnosed with dementia.

    Current research projects include:

    • Older peoples experience of dementia diagnosis
    • Identifying neurophysiological markers of early cognitive decline
    • The use of Technology to Prevent Malnutrition In Consumers Living Alone with Dementia


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Queen Elizabeth Hospital

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