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Faculty of Health Sciences strengthens research ties with Brazil


18 July 2013

UNESP (São Paulo State University, President Prudente Campus): Dr Ruben Filho (Physiotherapy academic), Professor Kathryn Refshauge, Professor Patrick Brennan, Dr Paulo Ferreira.

A senior delegation from the Faculty of Health Sciences recently visited Brazil, the largest country in South America, to strengthen partnerships with a number of institutions, and to showcase the faculty's successes, its research opportunities and academic courses.

Two projects currently led by staff at Cumberland campus were of particular interest to the different institutions visited.

Professor Patrick Brennan introduced Brazil to the faculty's online tool known as Breast Screen Reader Assessment Strategy (BREAST). The tool has been used successfully in Australia for more than two years and monitors the performance of radiologists in detecting and diagnosing abnormalities in breast x-rays.

BREAST was recently implemented by the New Zealand Health department and also by the government of Saudi Arabia. While the team was in Brazil, various health agencies, the consul and ambassador showed interest in implementing this system.

The establishment of a Twin Registry was also tabled says Dr Paulo Ferreira Senior Lecturer, Physiotherapy. A Twin Registry is a voluntary database of twin siblings.

"The Twin Registry is quite a popular resource in many countries. We have one in Australia that is really well structured with more than 30,000 twin pairs in the registry. Scandinavian countries have a twin registry - Finland, Norway; there's a couple in the US, a huge one in China, South Korea, Spain, Italy, Hungary. And I am a member of the international network for twin registries," says Dr Ferreira.

"They look at conditions that effect twins like behavioral issues. Brazil is attracting the eyes of the world at the moment," said Dr Ferreira.

"The network meets every two years and is currently attempting to merge data for research and support data. There is no twin registry in Brazil, nor in fact anywhere else in South America."

"Our initial plan is to establish the Brazilian twin registry in the image of the Australian registry, with the same resources, tools and philosophy."

We are at the stage of exploring funding opportunities with a grant proposal currently before the Brazilian government for the establishment of a registry in their country."

In terms of students, the faculty is working through the Brazilian government's Science without Borders program which aims to support undergraduate and postgraduate students study overseas.

Further symposia are planned for March next year where other ideas from the Faculty of Health Science will be explored.