The Institute for Health and Sport (IHES) is one of two Flagship Research Institutes at Victoria University. It addresses real-world problems of local, national and global relevance in both health and sport, across four multi-disciplinary research programs.

It was formed in 2018 by the combination of the world-leading Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living (ISEAL) and the Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Management.

The institute has a wide scope, encompassing institutional research in exercise science, active living, chronic disease, biomedical sciences, technology, nursing, community health, psychology, public health, sport performance, sport in society, sport participation and sport business.

The achievements of the institute are reflected in Victoria University's extraordinary reputation for sport research, resulting in a world number 12 ranking for sport science education (Shanghai Rankings 2018).

 

Research programs

This program aims to enhance the understanding of health and disease by researching the fundamental mechanisms of cells, biological systems and disease processes and translating this knowledge into practical interventions that maintain health, treat disease and inform enhanced health outcomes.

The program includes approximately 100 staff and student researchers who utilise fundamental basic, applied and clinical research approaches to key areas including:

  • Metabolic health and disease
  • Cancer and cancer treatment
  • Exercise science
  • Immunology
  • Nutrition in health and disease
  • Biomechanics
  • Muscle health and disease
  • Cardiovascular health and disease.

Research program leaders

Leader: Professor Vasso Apostolopoulos

Deputy Leaders: Associate Professor Itamar Levinger, Associate Professor Kulmira Nurgali

The purpose of this research program is to enhance and promote individual and community health and wellbeing.

The program includes approximately 50 staff and student researchers who are focused on key areas including:

  • Women’s health
  • Men’s health
  • Child and maternal health
  • Workforce development and capacity-building
  • Acute and long-term conditions
  • Mental health and addictions.

Research program leaders

Leader: Professor Mary Carolan-Olah 

Deputy Leader: Professor Jenny Sharples, Dr Michelle Ball

This program aims to investigate how, why and to what extent does sport, physical activity and culture shape individuals, communities and society.

The program includes approximately 60 research staff, student researchers and teams who are focused on key areas including:

  • Sport and recreation spatial
  • (Sport) diversity and social change
  • Body image and disordered eating
  • Community Identity and Development Research Network (CIDRN)
  • Active living and public health
  • Physical activity and mental health.

Research program leaders

LeaderProfessor Alexandra Parker

Deputy LeaderProfessor Ramon Spaaij

The main aim of this program is to enhance the performance of sport by advancing and developing performers, coaches, umpires, practitioners, administrators and organisations.

The program includes approximately 85 research staff, student researchers and teams who are focused on four key areas of expertise:

  • training load and athletic performance – design, monitoring and implementation of training programs to enhance athletic performance
  • skill and development – investigating factors that contribute to the development and proficiency of skilled movement
  • analytics and technology – develops and applies techniques in acquisition, analysis and reporting of sporting data
  • sports business, policy and integrity – enhancing sports capability through the performance and integrity of individuals, practices and systems in sports organisations.

Research program leaders

Leader: Associate Professor Sam Robertson

Deputy Leader: Associate Professor Camilla Brockett

Our people

The Institute for Health and Sport comprises approximately 110 research-only and academic staff along with approximately 250 PhD students. These researchers work across the Footscray Park, St Albans Campus, Sunshine Hospital, Werribee and Victoria University-Whitten Oval campuses and embedded across industries around Victoria.

With its diverse and highly-skilled team, the institute is well-placed to continue and expand the fundamental work started by the Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living (ISEAL).

Professor Michael McKenna, Executive Director

Professor John Price, Deputy Director, Research Training

Professor Nigel Stepto, Deputy Director, Research Training

Professor Vasso Apostolopoulos, Research Program Leader, Mechanisms and Interventions in Chronic Disease

Professor Mary Carolan-Olah, Research Program Leader, Clinical and Community Health and Wellbeing

Professor Alexandra Parker, Research Program Leader, Inclusive and Health Communities – Sport, Physical Activity and Culture

Associate Professor Sam Robertson, Research Program Leader, Sport Performance and Business

 

The Institute has 111 researchers, of which 39 are research-only and 72 who are academic staff of the university whose research aligns with the institute. The research-only staff in the institute are:

Professor Vasso Apostolopoulos, Professor Research Fellow

Professor Robert Aughey, Professor Research Fellow

Professor Rezaul Begg, Professor Biomechanics

Professor David Bishop, Professor Research Fellow

Associate Professor Camilla Brockett, SEAL Consult

Associate Professor Rochelle Eime, Sport Participation

Associate Professor Nir Eynon, DECRA/ARC Fellow

Professor Damian Farrow, Professor Skill Acquisition

Associate Professor Andrew Garnham, Sports Doctor

Associate Professor Itamar Levinger, Heart Foundation Fellow

Professor Michael McKenna, Deputy Director Research Training, Executive Director

Professor Alexandra Parker, Professor Physical Activity & Mental Health

Professor John Price, Deputy Director, Research Training

Associate Professor Sam Robertson, VU-WB Head of Research & Innovation

Professor Nigel Stepto, Deputy Director, Research Training

Senior Research Fellows

Dr John Harvey, Senior Research Fellow

Dr Stephanie Kovalchik, GIG Senior Data Scientist

Mr Michael Linley, Senior Research Fellow

Dr Zeljko Pedisic, Senior Research Fellow

Postdoctoral Research Fellows and Research Officers

Dr James Broatch, Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr Timothy Buszard, Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Ms Melanie Charity, Research Officer

Dr Nader Chmait, Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr Sarah Fraser, Research Officer

Dr Alessandra Ferri, Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr Amanda Genders, Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr Joanne Griggs, Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr Jujiao Kuang, Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr Francesca Lanfranconi, Research Officer

Dr Paul Larkin, Research Officer

Dr Karen Mickle, Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr Alba Moreno, Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr Kurt Mudie, Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr Michaela Pascoe, Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Mr Bart Spencer, Data Scientist

Dr Alice Sweeting, Sport Scientist & Research Fellow

Dr Cara Timpani, Research Officer

Dr Sarah Voisin, Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr Giovanni Zurzolo, Postdoctoral Research Fellow

The academic staff in the institute are:

Dr Aaron Petersen

Professor Alan Hayes

Dr Andre Nelson

Professor Andrew McAinch

Dr Andrew Dawson

Professor Andrew Stewart

Dr Anthony Zulli

Dr Brent McDonald

Dr Carolyn Deans

Dr Catherine Kamphius

Associate Professor Christopher Sonn

Dr Christos Stathis

Associate Professor Clare Hanlon

Dr Craig Goodman

Dr Daniel van der Westhuizen

Associate Professor Dennis Hemphill

Professor Elisabeth Wilson-Evered

Dr Elizabeth Verghese

Dr Emma Rybalka

Dr Emra Suleyman

Dr Fabio Serpiello

Dr Fiona McLachlan

Associate Professor Gary Fryer

Dr Gayelene Boardman

Professor Gavin Ivey

Dr George Elias

Dr Gina Kruger

Professor Glenn McConell

Professor Hans Westerbeek

Dr Ian Syson

Dr Jane Mulcahy

Dr James Zois

Dr Janet Young

Dr Jenny Lee

Professor Jenny Sharples

Dr Julie van den Eynde

Dr Karen Livesay

Dr Keis Ohtsuka

Dr Keith Thomas

Dr Kevin Ball

Dr Kim Shearson

Dr Laurie Chapin

Dr Lisa Hodge

Associate Professor Liza Heslop

Dr Lucy (Sai) Lu

Professor Mary Carolan-Olah

Dr Matthew Klugman

Professor Maximilian de Courten

Associate Professor Melinda Craike

Associate Professor Michael Mathai

Associate Professor Michael Spittle

Dr Michelle Ball

Associate Professor Patrick McLaughlin

Dr Peter Gill

Dr Peter Thomas

Dr Puspha Sinnayah

Professor Ramon Spaaij

Dr Romana Morda

Dr Samy Sakkal

Ms Sarah Oxford

Dr Sharna Spittle

Professor Sharon Andrew

Dr Sian McLean

Dr Simon Taylor

Professor Terence McCann

Dr Tina Kostecki

Associate Professor Tze (Daniel) Huei Lai

Dr Warwick Hosking

Associate Professor Xiao Su

Dr Sean Yan

Dr Zali Yager

Ms Amanda Rea, Executive Officer

Ms Emma Macintosh, Administrative Officer

A large number of research assistants also work in the Institute, supporting our staff and students.

Facilities

Institute for Health and Sport researchers have access to a wide range of specialist research facilities.

The Altitude Hotel simulates an altitude of up to 3500 metres and can be extended to higher altitudes. The experience lowers the oxygen levels from the normal 20.9% typically down to 15.5%.

Our research is investigating the impacts of reduced oxygen on a range of physiological indicators. In particular, the hotel is used to investigate the impacts of chronic lung disease and investigate the impacts of simulated altitude on performance of endurance and team sport athletes.

The hotel has space for up to 16 participants to live for an extended time. Facilities include a kitchen and communal area, bathroom, TV/DVD/internet, lockable cupboards, air conditioning.

The Interprofessional Clinic is purpose-built and provides health services and clinical training for students across the nine health discipline courses at Victoria University.

Located in Wyndham, the clinic is a health and community facility that provides both services to the community and interprofessional learning for VU health science students. It develops collaborative health practitioners who can work together effectively to provide interprofessional care or services while developing their discipline-specific professional identities. The clinic is committed to a client-centred approach and to ethical practice where the client lies at the centre of health service provision, enabling them to maximise their opportunities to access the services they require.

Victoria University also works with key stakeholders and the community to share our understanding of the health needs of Wyndham. This ensures we support and provide integrated health services that are individualised, responsive and complementary to existing health and community services. Consumer partnership involves clients and carers participating in decision-making about their own care, while being involved in the ongoing planning design, delivery and evaluation of the clinic’s health services.

The built pedagogy of the Interprofessional Clinic is designed around interprofessional (IP) pods, each pod includes a client assessment/debrief room. In addition to the unique IP pods, interprofessional practice at the clinic is extended through a range of spaces, including a commercial kitchen for teaching and community use, consultation and treatment rooms, videoconferencing and meeting rooms, amenities and change rooms, as well as an exercise assessment and rehabilitation area.

Location

223 Heaths Road
Werribee  Vic  3030

VU's facilities at the St Albans Campus allow our Institute research staff and students to conduct research into important issues affecting the health of individuals and the community.

The research groups focus on world-class research and development, translating innovation in experimental medicine into positive health outcomes for the community. Many of our researchers enjoy international reputations for excellence. Through partnerships and collaborations, the work of our dynamic and enthusiastic research community benefits the whole university, as well as industry and the community.

The Institute for Health and Sport and Victoria University continues to be at the forefront of sport science research and knowledge exchange with the Western Bulldogs, our jointly appointed staff and students are located at Whitten Oval the Bulldogs home ground. Our partnership with the Western Bulldogs is one of the longest between an AFL club and a university and VU is a major sponsor of their AFL, VFL and AFLW teams.

The Institute for Health and Sport have a substantially enhanced sport science research and knowledge exchange program with the Western Bulldogs. The program builds upon the existing level of sport science engagement. The enhanced program develops new knowledge and synthesises existing knowledge to inform coaching programs and improve the on-field football performance of the Western Bulldogs AFL, AFLW and VFL teams.

The Western Centre for Health Research and Education (WCHRE) is an innovative and sustainable teaching, training and research precinct in Western Melbourne. It comprises a three-way partnership between Western Health, Victoria University (VU) and The University of Melbourne and is located at the Western Health Sunshine campus. 

The Centre aims to make a major contribution to the future health of the Victorian community. The work of the precinct will realise significant benefits for the social and economic development of Victoria based on excellence in research, a high-calibre workforce and solid infrastructure support.

WCHRE also incorporates the Australian Institute for Musculoskeletal Science (AIMSS). AIMSS is a national reference centre for research into bone, muscle and ageing, with a focus on conditions related to chronic disease and ageing such as osteoporosis, sarcopenia and osteosarcopenia. AIMSS promotes disease prevention and evidence-based interventions, including exercise and nutrition.

Facilities & resources

WCHRE’s state-of-the art teaching and research facilities include an auditorium, lecture theatre, tutorial teaching spaces, learning commons and an atrium for conferences and meetings.

The simulation area comprises operating theatre, intensive care unit and a four-bed ward.

A clinical trials area includes:

  • consulting rooms
  • gait and balance gym
  • falls and fracture clinic
  • bone and muscle imaging (DXA and pQCT)
  • metabolic testing.

Researchers also have access to a certified Physical Containment Level 2 (PC2) lab for genetic modification work. The PC2 labs allow the safe containment and study of micro-organisms that pose a moderate, but treatable, risk to humans.

Research facilities in the PC2 lab include:

  • cell culture
  • radiations room
  • confocal microscope
  • histology and live cell imaging
  • flow cytometer and flow sorter
  • Seahorse XF24 analyser
  • gene and protein analysis
  • electrophysiology and organ bath experiments.

Location

Sunshine Hospital
176 Furlong Road
St Albans  Vic  3021

Global research partners & collaborators

World Congress on Science & Football

The Institute for Heath and Sport is hosting the World Congress on Science and Football (WCSF) in June 2019.

Held every four years, the WCSF sees 350+ international researchers and practitioners from all football codes present their recent work and research.

Contact us

Institute for Health and Sport
Victoria University
PO Box 14428
Melbourne  VIC  8001

We're located in Building P, Room P136

Email: ihes@vu.edu.au
Phone: +61 3 9919 2685