Cerebral Palsy Research - USA

Professor Iona Novak

Head of Research, Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute, The University of Sydney

PhD MSc (Hons) BAppSc

Professor Novak manages the strategic development of research into the prevention and cure of cerebral palsy and supports the Australian Cerebral Palsy Register.

Professor Novak conducts clinical research into effective interventions for people living with cerebral palsy, including evidence-based practice initiatives and collaborative international and inter-agency research work.

As a Fulbright Scholar in 2013, Professor Novak travelled to the University of California, San Francisco, for four months to establish and lead an Australian-American cerebral palsy research consortium, to aggregate data and accelerate the rate of research. Professor Novak continues this research to translate the findings to direct improvements in clinical services.

Professor Novak has extensive clinical experience as an Occupational Therapist and holds: a Bachelor of Applied Science (Occupational Therapy) from the University of Sydney; a Master of Science (Hons) and a PhD from the University of Western Sydney. She has won awards and prizes including a PhD Presentation Award from UWS and has been an Allied Health representative on the Premier’s Spinal Forum Fellowship Program.

Significant Achievements

  • Collaborated to help establish the Australian Cerebral Palsy Register, which is the largest whole country cerebral palsy register in the world
  • Establishment of the NSW Cerebral Palsy Register
  • Establishment of the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute, in partnership with the Chief Executive Officer of the Cerebral Palsy Alliance
  • Establishment and leadership of the Cerebral Palsy Prevention and Cure Summit, which aimed to get leading researchers to work collaboratively to accelerate the rate of research
  • Co-Chair of the 3rd International Cerebral Palsy Conference
  • Editor of Evidence to Practice in Physical and Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics Journal
  • Chair of the Awards Committee, American Academy of Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine
  • Establishment and leadership of the 7 International Consensus Statements for the use of Botulinum Toxin in Children and Adults with Neurological Disability
  • Establishment of the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute Grants Program, which provides grant funds for cerebral palsy prevention and cure research
  • Development of a co-funding partnership with the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia.

Awards & Honours

2016 Honorary Professor, Sydney Medical School, Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health, The University of Sydney
2013 Fulbright Scholar
2013 Gayle Arnold Lectureship for outstanding contribution to the field of cerebral palsy | American Academy of Cerebral Palsy
2013 Faculty of Health Sciences Professional Achievement, University of Sydney
2012 Folke Bernadotte Scholar Sweden
2011 Finalist for Gayle Arnold Award | Best paper and presentation at the American Academy of Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine
2009 Finalist for the Best Paper Presentation Award Winner | International Cerebral Palsy Conference
2006 PhD Presentation Award Winner | School of Biomedical Sciences | University of Western Sydney
2005 Allied Health representative on the Premier’s Spinal Forum Fellowship program

Competitive Grants Program: National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)

2014 – 2019 NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Cerebral Palsy (CRE-CP): $2,538,749. Associate Investigator: Iona Novak. (Field of Research: Paediatrics and Reproductive Medicine; ref: 1057997) URL: http://purl.org/au-research/grants/nhmrc/1057997

2014 – 2018 NHMRC Project Grant $2,044,764. Preventing Adverse Outcomes of Neoantal Hypoxic Ischaemic Encephalopathy with Erythropoeitin – the PAEAN study. Chief Investigators: Helen Liley; Nadia Badawi; Susan Jacobs; Rachel O’Connell; Malcolm Battin; Rod Hunt; Iona Novak; Lisa Askie. (Field of Research: Paediatrics and Reproductive Medicine; ref: 1064294.) URL: http://purl.org/au-research/grants/nhmrc/1064294

2012 – 2015 NHMRC Partnership Project for Better Health: $889,064. The best service at the best time: improving the implementation of research for children with cerebral palsy. Chief Investigators: Christine Imms; Nora Shields; Dinah Reddihough; Iona Novak; Herbert Graham; Michael Coory. (Field of Research: Clinical Sciences, Rehabilitation and Therapy excl. physiotherapy; ref 1055278.) URL: http://purl.org/au-research/grants/nhmrc/1055278

2010 ARC Discovery Grant: $190,000. Effect of infant hand observation training on the early development of hand reaching and grasping in healthy infants and those with early brain damage. Associate Investigator: Iona Novak.


2012 Avant Insurance: $1,000,000. Prevention of cerebral palsy.

2011 John T Reid Charitable Trust: $100,000. Cord Blood and Cerebral Palsy.

2011 Cerebral Palsy International Research Foundation: $100,000. Cognition and Motor Performance in Children with Cerebral Palsy.

2010 Allergan: $100,000. Australian Cerebral Palsy Register – Phase II outcomes database.

2009 Balnaves Foundation: $450,000. Cerebral Palsy Curative Research Program.

2008 Avant Insurance: $2,000,000. Australian Cerebral Palsy Register.

Publications in Peer Reviewed Journals

View Iona’s publications on Google Scholar and on ResearchGate.