Western Centre for Health Research & Education

The Western Centre for Health Research and Education (Western CHRE) is an innovative and sustainable teaching, training and research precinct in Western Melbourne.

The Centre aims to make a major contribution to the future health of the Victorian community.

Further, 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.

About the Centre

Western CHRE is a three-way partnership between Western Health, Victoria University (VU) and The University of Melbourne. It is located at the Western Health Sunshine hospital.

VU staff and students located within Western CHRE are primarily from the College of Sport, Health & Engineering. Our research is aligned to the Institute for Health & Sport.

Western CHRE also incorporates the internationally-renowned research institute Australian Institute for Musculoskeletal Science (AIMSS). AIMSS researches bone, muscle and ageing, with a focus on conditions related to chronic disease and ageing such as osteoporosis, sarcopenia and osteosarcopenia, the central link being frailty and disability. AIMSS promotes disease prevention and evidence-based interventions, including exercise and nutrition, aiming to improve the health and wellbeing of the communities in which we live and work.

Facilities & resources

Western CHRE’s state-of-the art teaching and research facilities include:

  • auditorium, lecture theatre and tutorial teaching spaces
  • learning commons
  • atrium for conferences and meetings
  • simulation area with:
    • operating theatre
    • intensive care unit
    • four-bed ward
  • clinical trials area with:
    • 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 and facilities in the PC2 lab include:

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

Research projects

VU staff and students undertake world-class research within Western CHRE. Following are some examples of the research:

  • Are healthcare professionals equipped to provide nutrition advice?, led by Dr Helen McCarthy
  • Does dietary intake of older adults in residential aged-care support optimal immune function?, led by Dr Helen McCarthy
  • Gut-to make healthy muscles: Unravelling the function of the gut-muscle axis, led by Dr Cara Timpani and Dr Emma Rybalka
  • Identification and characterisation of molecular mediators of cancer metastasis, led by Professor John Price
  • INTense ExeRcise for surviVAL among men with metastatic prostate cancer (INTERVAL – GAP4): A multicentre, randomised, controlled, phase III study, led by Professor Alan Hayes
  • Investigating possible therapies for Duchenne muscular dystrophy and other muscle wasting conditions, led by Professor Alan Hayes and Dr Emma Rybalka
  • Investigation of the gut-brain axis, led by Associate Professor Kulmira Nurgali
  • Role of the nervous system in health and pathology: from animal models to humans, led by Associate Professor Kulmira Nurgali
  • Tailored exercise training as a new intervention to counteract muscle disuse in patients with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis – Train-ALS project, led by Dr Alessandra Ferri
  • Targeting fat accumulation and inflammation as potential therapeutics for Osteosarcopenia, led by Professor Alan Hayes and Professor Gustavo Duque
  • Targeting Nrf2 to treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy: A translational approach, led by Dr Emma Rybalka and Dr Cara Timpani
  • The effects of diet on pregnancy outcomes for the mother and child, led by Professor Andrew McAinch
  • The role of osteocalcin in glucose uptake and muscle function in osteosarcopania, led by Dr Itamar Levinger
  • Unravelling the mechanisms of myopathy in models of Parkinson’s Disease, led by Dr Emma Rybalka and Dr Rachel McQuade.

Excellence in education & training

The west of Melbourne is recognised as the fastest growth corridor in Australia. The VU and Western Health partnership contribute to community development and growth in the west with education, training and optimum health care delivery.

Our emphasis on service to the community is further demonstrated through our commitment to educate future generations and build a sustainable workforce. Of note is the drive to enhance total patient care by supporting and providing pathways for staff to embrace personal, developmental and organisational change and opportunities.

We recognise the importance of providing education opportunities for staff, and aim to ensure education and training is equitable and accessible to all employees. We believe in providing staff with the opportunity for continuous learning and development through research and innovation.

To address the learning needs of staff, VU has unique learning programs that account for a variety of potential study barriers, including:

  • prolonged absence from study
  • capacity to participate in a contemporary IT-based learning environment
  • current social, working and economic status of participants.