Cerebral Palsy Research - USA

Our Researchers

There is no single cause of cerebral palsy – which means there could be many ways to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure cerebral palsy. To help us ‘join the dots’ on such a complex condition, we have a team of researchers from many disciplines whose expertise, experience and dedication are helping us find the answers as quickly as possible.

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Professor Nadia Badawi AM

MACQUARIE GROUP FOUNDATION CHAIR OF CEREBRAL PALSY, THE UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY

Professor Badawi AM is an internationally recognised neonatologist with extensive experience working in the field of cerebral palsy.

In 2009 Cerebral Palsy Alliance appointed Professor Badawi as Australia’s first Chair of Cerebral Palsy to oversee projects funded by the Research Foundation. The position has been funded by the Macquarie Group Foundation and the Commonwealth Government.

Read Nadia’s full profile


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Professor Iona Novak

HEAD OF RESEARCH, CEREBRAL PALSY ALLIANCE RESEARCH INSTITUTE, THE UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY

Professor Iona Novak is Head of Research at Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute, Sydney.

Professor Novak oversees the research activities of Institute and supports the Australian Cerebral Palsy Register.

Professor Novak is a Fulbright Scholar and her background is in occupational therapy with research interests in evidence-based practice; home programs; and neuroprotection.

Read Iona’s full profile


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Dr Sarah McIntyre

SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW & NHMRC EARLY CAREER FELLOW, THE UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY

Sarah is responsible for the NSW/ACT Cerebral Palsy Register and is a policy member of the Australian Cerebral Palsy Register group.

She is a perinatal and paediatric epidemiologist and her current work focusses on the aetiology and prevention of cerebral palsy and neonatal encephalopathy, with a particular emphasis on birth defects.

With colleagues across the world, she is helping to establish the first international research network for cerebral palsy, IMPACT for CP.

Read Sarah’s full profile


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Professor Alistair McEwan

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 passionate about engineering technology innovation to solve problems of real clinical need. His research focuses on harnessing advancing technology and innovation to accelerate the search for new and improved treatments and interventions for childhood disabilities and illnesses.

Professor McEwan is now identifying priority areas and engaging more engineers to help address technology challenges. With teams in engineering and health he is investigating improved methods of mobility and communication for people living with cerebral palsy, using the latest available technologies. For example, he is looking at how we can assist movement using bionics, robotics and artificial intelligence to help people with cerebral palsy stay better connected to their communities.

Professor McEwan was the first recipient of the Microsoft Future Fellowship Award in Australia due to his interest in adapting discoveries in new computer engineering to healthcare. He was previously an Action Medical Research Scholar at University College London, a Marie Curie Research Fellow with Philips Research Germany where he working on neurosurgical imaging technologies and a British Council Overseas Scholar at the University of Oxford.


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Associate Professor Karen Walker

SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW, IMPACT FOR CP

Associate Professor Karen Walker is a Clinical Research Fellow in the Grace Centre for Newborn Care at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead, and a Senior Research Fellow with the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute.

Karen completed her PhD in 2011 researching outcomes of infants admitted to neonatal intensive care units with her thesis entitled “Neurodevelopmental outcome at one year of age of infants who have undergone early major cardiac or non-cardiac surgery”.

Read Karen’s full profile


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Dr Petra Karlsson

SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW

Petra began working in the field of cerebral palsy as a clinician in her native Sweden in 1996 before working in a similar position at Australia’s Cerebral Palsy Alliance.

Since 2009 Petra has worked at the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute where she coordinates and supports the establishment, maintenance and execution of research within the CP Check-Up™ program; an active surveillance program that utilizes a variety of assessments to collect information across many aspects of a person’s life including physical status, functional abilities, cognitive abilities, health and well-being.

Petra was awarded her PhD from the Western Sydney University in 2014. Since then, she has been collaborating with national and international researchers in finding novel ways to use assistive technology to support communication, cognitive assessment and functioning in daily activities for individuals with cerebral palsy.

Read Petra’s full profile


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Dr Cathy Morgan

SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW

Cathy has been working as a physiotherapist specialising in cerebral palsy for 10 years, and from 2012 as a researcher at the Research Institute of Cerebral Palsy Alliance.

She is a Research Fellow at the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute involved in coordinating the development of an international network of researchers focused on prevention and cure of cerebral palsy (IMPACT for CP). Cathy’s main research focus is on the early detection and early interventions for babies at high risk of cerebral palsy.

In 2016, Cathy was awarded her PhD at The University of Notre Dame Australia. For these studies, Cathy was the recipient of an NHMRC Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation Doctoral Scholarship.

Read Cathy’s full profile


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Dr Hayley Smithers-Sheedy

SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW

Hayley is an NHMRC Post-doctoral Research Fellow at the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute, The University of Sydney and the Australasian Cerebral Palsy Clinical Trials Network.

She coordinates and supports the establishment, maintenance, and execution of research from the Australian Cerebral Palsy Register. She also supports the organisation’s strategic plan by building local and international research capacity aimed at preventing and curing cerebral palsy and is an investigator on the Bangladesh and Sri Lankan (2015) CP registers.

Read Hayley’s full profile


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Dr Megan Finch-Edmondson

STEM CELL RESEARCH FELLOW

Qualifications: BSc(Hons), PhD

Megan joined the Research Institute as Stem Cell Research Fellow in October 2017. In this role, she is responsible for building capacity in stem cell research for cerebral palsy in Australia by identifying and securing funding for stem cell research, and facilitating collaboration between researchers, both nationally and internationally.

Megan was awarded her PhD from The University of Western Australia in 2015, for which she was a recipient of an Australian Stem Cell Centre Postgraduate Scholarship. Megan then spent two-and-a-half years living abroad, working as a Post-doctoral Research Fellow at the Mechanobiology Institute, National University of Singapore. Megan’s background is in cell biology, with particular focus on signalling pathways and their contribution to stem cell biology and cancer. She is dedicated to the prevention and cure of cerebral palsy through a research program of neuro-protective and neuro-regenerative clinical trials.


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Dr Maria Mc Namara

RESEARCH MANAGER

Dr Maria Mc Namara is the Research Manager at the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute, based at the Brain and Mind Centre, The University of Sydney.

Maria is responsible for the operational effectiveness of the research team, including the delivery of a diverse range of research projects aimed at prevention, treatment and cure of Cerebral Palsy. Maria has a PhD in Occupational Health (University of New South Wales) and a background in Organisational Psychology (University College Dublin).

Maria’s post-doctoral research fellowship at The University of Sydney focused on ageing workers and subsequently precarious employment. Her work examined the relationships between working conditions in organisations and individual and organisational outcomes (e.g. mental and physical health, job satisfaction, turnover). Maria has also worked in clinical trials in stroke research. She is particularly interested in knowledge translation of evidence based practice


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Zoe Burrell

RESEARCH FOUNDATION GRANTS COORDINATOR

Zoe is the primary contact and coordinator for the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation’s Grants Program. Zoe also assists with the administration of the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Human Research Ethics Committee.

Zoe provides Executive Administration support to the entire Research Institute team including the Chair of Cerebral Palsy, Professor Nadia Badawi AM, and the Head of Research, Professor Iona Novak.


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Shona Goldsmith

RESEARCH ASSOCIATE & NHMRC POSTGRADUATE SCHOLAR, PHD CANDIDATE, THE UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY

Prior to joining the Research Institute in 2008, Shona worked as a physiotherapist specialising in working with children and adults with cerebral palsy and other complex disabilities.

Shona works on a range of Research Institute projects, assisting with literature reviews, ethics applications, data collection, analysis and writing. In 2015, Shona commenced her PhD Candidature at The University of Sydney.

Read Shona’s full profile


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Dr Ingrid Honan

RESEARCH FELLOW AND REGISTERED PSYCHOLOGIST

Qualifications: BPsyc (Hons), MClinNeuroPsych & PhD

Ingrid is a Research Fellow and Registered Psychologist at the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute, based at the Brain and Mind Centre, The University of Sydney.

Ingrid is co-ordinating the development of an Australia and New Zealand Cerebral Palsy Strategy, aiming to provide a united advocacy voice for people with cerebral palsy, their families and professionals working in the field across Australia and New Zealand. Ingrid is also involved in a number of research projects in which psychological assessment or constructs are incorporated, such as accessible neuropsychological assessments, social skills, mechanisms of behaviour, and quality of life.

Ingrid completed her PhD in paediatric neuropsychology at Macquarie University in 2018.


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Isabelle Baldé

RESEARCH ASSISTANT

Isabelle began her career in her home country of Belgium and has since worked in several countries in Executive Assistant and Project Coordinator roles for both international corporate companies and small businesses.

In her current role Isabelle provides corporate administration support to the researchers at the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute.

Read Isabelle’s full profile


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Abigail Allsop

RESEARCH ASSOCIATE

Qualifications: BHealthSci , MPubHealth

Abigail joined the research institute in October 2015 with a background in public health and experience in a variety of healthcare settings. She works across a number of projects within the research institute including CP Check-Up™, the About CP online resource and early detection and intervention projects including the GAME trial. Specific aspects of her role include data management and support, database development, ethics and governance coordination and research in early intervention and assistive technology.


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Claire Galea

STATISTICIAN

Qualifications: BEdu, GDipStat, GDipVET, MEpid

Claire is currently working as Statistician to support the Chair of Cerebral Palsy, and is undertaking statistical consultations involving data collection, analysis and reporting to assist researchers and clinicians.

Prior to joining the Research Institute in November 2015, Claire had an extensive career as a teacher specialising in mathematics and statistics. With a background in financial statistics, Claire recently completed a Masters of Epidemiology, for which she received the Dean’s commendation, and is currently undertaking research in the fields of intervention and early detection of cerebral palsy.


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Yana Wilson

RESEARCH OFFICER, CP GENOMICS, PHD CANDIDATE, THE UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY

Qualifications: BAppSci(Hons), MSc, MIPH, PhD Candidate (Enrolled)

Yana joined the Research Institute in March 2016 from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research to support the Chair of Cerebral Palsy in identifying research opportunities and partnerships in genomics.

Yana’s chief interests are evaluating the variation of our DNA that contribute to nervous system function and dysfunction, and analysing the underlying biology and genetic pathways of cerebral palsy and other neurodevelopmental disorders. Yana also has an interest in the ethical and public policy challenges associated with the application of genomics in medicine and research.

In 2017, Yana became a Governance Committee member of the International Cerebral Palsy Genomics Consortium, and is working on the development of the ICPGC’s data sharing platform, the CP Commons that will manage, store and share the de-identified clinical and genetic data from various teams around the world that are involved in the consortium.


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Katarina Ostojic

RESEARCH ASSISTANT

Qualifications: BScience (Psych), MPH, PhD (Medicine) candidate (USyd)

Katarina joined the Research Institute in November 2017, and is currently completing a Doctor of Philosophy (Medicine). Katarina works on a range of research projects at the CPA Research Institute from conducting literature reviews, administrative support and writing. Katarina is involved with the NSW/ACT Cerebral Palsy Register supporting the team with data collection, synthesis and analysis.

Katarina is conducting her PhD at the Rehabilitation Departments of the Sydney Children’s Hospital Network (Kids Rehab, the Children’s Hospital at Westmead & Rehab2Kids, Sydney Children’s Hospital Randwick). Katarina’s PhD studies focus on pain management in children and adolescents with cerebral palsy. Prior to this Katarina worked as a research assistant with the School of Psychology, USyd focusing on psychology-education interventions for adult cancer patients and their partners.


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Emma Waight

RESEARCH ASSISTANT

Qualifications: BAppPH

Emma joined the Research Institute in November 2017 in her final semester of a Bachelor of Applied Public Health. Her main role is to provide assistance for the maintenance of the NSW and Australian Cerebral Palsy Registers. She also offers support on various other projects, including the development of registers, data analysis, and administrative support. Emma has plans to undertake a Masters in a public health-related field in the near future. 


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Olivia Finemore

RESEARCH ASSISTANT

Qualifications: BMed (Enrolled)

Olivia joined the research institute in December 2017 after volunteering with the team for several months prior. Olivia provides administrative support to the research team and assists with  the GAME trial, PAEAN study, and PEERS intervention.