Our Research Chairs

Professor Nadia Badawi AM

MBBCh (Hons I), DCH, MSc, PhD, FRCPI, FRACP

Medical Director and Co-Head, Grace Centre for Newborn Intensive Care
The Children’s Hospital at Westmead
CP Alliance Chair of Cerebral Palsy Research, The University of Sydney

Professor Badawi is an internationally recognised neonatologist and expert in cerebral palsy and newborn brain conditions. In her role as Chair of Cerebral Palsy, she is responsible for implementing the strategic plan for cerebral palsy research priorities. Professor Badawi is renowned for her research on the outcomes of neonatal intensive care, neurodevelopmental outcomes following major cardiac and non-cardiac surgery, neonatal encephalopathy and cerebral palsy. Her reputation as a leading authority on cerebral palsy has ensured the Research Foundation has some of the world’s best research minds now working collaboratively and proactively to find ways to prevent, treat and cure cerebral palsy. She is also the Medical Director and Co-Head of the Grace Centre for Newborn Care at The Children’s Hospital Westmead.

About the role: 

In 2009, Cerebral Palsy Alliance appointed Professor Nadia Badawi AM, one of Australia’s leading cerebral palsy experts, as Australia’s first Chair of Cerebral Palsy to oversee projects funded by the Research Foundation.

This appointment was created to:

  • Propel cerebral palsy research onto the world stage
  • Develop an international network of researchers committed to the prevention and cure of cerebral palsy
  • Inspire researchers to join our quest
  • Target funds towards the most promising areas of research
  • Promote community education and shape public policy.

In 2015, the Chair of Cerebral Palsy position moved from the University of Notre Dame Australia to the Sydney Medical School, The University of Sydney, within the Discipline of Child and Adolescent Health.

Professor Rod Hunt 

PhD

Chair of Research VIC

Professor Rod Hunt is the Chair of Research VIC and is extensively qualified, experienced and connected to drive and grow CP research and funding in Victoria.
Professor Hunt’s appointments include Director of Neonatal Medicine at The Royal Children’s Hospital and Co-Director of Neonatal Research at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and Honorary Professional Fellow, Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne.
He has served as Examiner on the National Examining Panel for the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and currently represents The Children’s Campus on the Maternity and Newborn Steering Committee for the Melbourne Academic Centre for Health, among numerous Chair and Honorary Professor positions.

About the role: 

CPA’s Chair of Research VIC was established in 2020 to bring together the brightest minds and key stakeholders across Victoria in CP research to accelerate building a research roadmap, providing direction for new discoveries globally. Professor Rod Hunt, an accomplished researcher and neonatologist who has dedicated his working life to delivering the best care to some of Australia’s tiniest and most vulnerable babies was appointed to the position. Professor Hunt promotes CP research through collaboration with an outstanding multidisciplinary research team and program currently affiliated with seven major institutions in Victoria.

This appointment was created to:

  • Accelerate research discoveries by facilitating new funding in Victoria to address chronic research funding shortages
  • Provide a strong, expert voice in the translation and adoption of evidence-based research
  • Develop and foster collaborations with research groups across a range of disciplines to find causation factors not previously identified

Professor Iona Novak

PhD

Chair of Allied Health

Professor Iona Novak is the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Chair of Allied Health, The University of Sydney, Australia. Iona is a Fulbright Scholar establishing “Xcellerate” – an American-Australian Cerebral Palsy Stem Cell Research Consortium that pools collective efforts to find a cure and invited Chair of the International Clinical Guidelines for Cerebral Palsy.

Professor Novak is the top published occupational therapist in Australia, winner of the Elsass Foundation Research Award in 2021 and Editor for Evidence to Practice for Physical and Occupational Therapy in Paediatrics journal.

Driven by an internal belief that research and healthcare have the potential to change lives, Professor Novak has pursued projects and roles with the greatest possible impact on children and families. She is internationally recognised as an expert in rehabilitation and neuroplasticity for children with CP and her work has led to changes in clinical practice in 24 countries, including co-founding the Australian Cerebral Palsy Register, and developing clinical practice guidelines to diagnose CP early, define best practice early intervention and interventions to improve independence for people with CP.

About the role: 

CPA’s Chair of Allied Health was established in 2021 to deliver a multidisciplinary paediatric neurological program focused on advancing outcomes designed to maximise function of people with cerebral palsy (CP). Professor Iona Novak, an internationally-recognised occupational therapist, was appointed to the position, in the Faculty of Medicine and Health at The University of Sydney.

This appointment was created to:

  • Develop an outstanding multidisciplinary research team and program in the area of child adolescent health
  • Deliver a paediatric neurological rehabilitation and regenerative program focused on advancing outcomes for nerve, muscle and brain disorders and damage
  • Plan for an expansion of allied health within the NSW Health system to build a one-of-a-kind approach to treatment and rehabilitation of CP

Professor Alistair McEwan 

PhD, MEng(Res), BE, BComm

Ainsworth Chair of Technology and Innovation, The University of Sydney

Professor Alistair McEwan is the Ainsworth Chair of Technology and Innovation at Cerebral Palsy Alliance and University of Sydney, Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies.

He is the Theme Leader for Biomedical Devices and Instrumentation and helps lead the Australian Research Council Training Centre for Innovative Bioengineering.

Professor McEwan is an acknowledged leader in bioelectronics for solving health issues; in 2011 he was awarded a Microsoft Future Fellowship, the first Australian to be recognised with this award, for his work developing electronic devices to diagnose heart attack and stroke early. With teams in engineering and health, Professor McEwan is developing cognitive assessments for people with CP and investigating improved methods of mobility and communication using bionics, robotics and artificial intelligence to help people with cerebral palsy stay better connected to their communities.

About the role: 

In a world first, in 2017, CPA established the Ainsworth Chair of Technology and Innovation to accelerate the search for new and improved treatments and interventions for CP. Professor Alistair McEwan, a leading biomedical engineer, was appointed to the position, in the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies.

This appointment was created to:

  • Harness advancing technology and innovation to accelerate the search for new and improved treatments and interventions for childhood disabilities and illnesses
  • Identify priority areas and engaging more engineers to help address technology challenges
  • Investigate improved methods of mobility and communication for people living with cerebral palsy, using the latest available technologies.

Our Theme Leaders

Early Diagnosis and Intervention
Dr Cathy Morgan, 
Dr of Philosophy (PhD), Early intervention in cerebral palsy, BAppSC (Physiotherapy)

"Our vision is to see every child with cerebral palsy in Australia identified in the first six months of life and fast tracked to evidence based and customised early intervention, no matter where they live or how complicated their story."
Epidemiology

Dr Sarah McIntyre:
BAppSc (Occupational Therapy) (Hons), MPS, PhD

"I am thrilled that our team have contributed to identifying causes and are working on prevention strategies, and through the Australian CP Registers are now able to report a real and sustained reguction in CP."

Regeneration

Megan Finch-Edmonson
PhD, Senior Stem Cell Research Fellow

"Stem cell research is a really exciting area to be working in. Over the last 15 years we have seen great progress in this field, with potential for many new CP discoveries." 

Technology

Dr Petra Karlsson
BAppSc (Occupational Therapy), MSc (Occupational Therapy), PhD

"It will be fascinating to see what potential these technologies may hold for people with disabilities... especially novel innovations using mainstream technology. There are high tech needs for people with disability and innovative technology can facilitate greater participation, inclusion and independence."