About the Program

The Women's Health Research Program leads Australia in mid-life women's health clinical research, research training and health education.

The Women's Health Research Program undertakes research that leads directly to disease prevention, improved clinical care and better health outcomes for women in the community. Our focus is on the most common health issues that affect women throughout adult life, and impact most on health and wellbeing. The Program provides regularly updated health education for the community and health professionals. We also provide training for health care professionals in women's health and opportunities for young researchers to undertake Honours, Masters and PhD studies.

Our research priorities include:

Younger Women's Health

The Grollo Ruzzene Foundation Younger Women's Health Study: We will undertake a large national study of women aged 18-40 years to profile the gender-specific health needs of women of this age, their physical and psychological wellbeing, the prevalence of sexual health issues and of depression and anxiety. These have been identified as the leading health concerns for women aged 18-40 years.

Menopause, how it affects women physically and psychologically and new treatment options.

Improving the health of Australian Women at Midlife is a national study of Australian women aged 40-65 years, supported by the Bupa Health Foundation. This study of 2020 women has reported in published papers on: the prevalence of menopausal symptoms, psychological and general wellbeing, use of menopausal therapies, complementary and alternative therapies, and menopausal symptoms and work performance. It will also report on sexual function, and mood and anxiety. Roy Morgan Research has partnered us in the conduct of this research.

The Bangladesh Midlife Women's Health Study is a national study of women aged 30-59 years undertaken to report on the prevalence of menopausal symptoms and pelvic floor disorders in women in Bangladesh. It has also reported on barriers to the uptake of cervical cancer and breast cancer screening in Bangladesh.

Gender specific health issues for women with chronic illness. We are assessing the health and wellbeing of Women After Lung Transplant (WALT Study), this is being conducted in collaboration with Prof Greg Snell and the lung transplant team at the Alfred Hospital Melbourne.

Breast cancer, which affects 1 in 10 Australian women in their life time. The management of women's health and quality of life after treatment for breast cancer is a priority. We are addressing the needs of women post breast cancer treatment in the Sexual Wellbeing After Breast Cancer.

Uterine cancer . We wish to determine whether changes in the uterine lining which precede the development of breast cancer can be prevented by a novel intervention. Our partners in this included the Breast Unit at the Mercy Private, Prince Henry's Institute of Medical Research, Camberwell Ultrasound for Women/Central Ultrasound for Women, Prof Shane White, Dr Jillian Woinarski and Dr Jane McNeilage.

Healthy Ageing

The Health of Older Women Study is a national study of Australian women aged 65-79 years, supported by the International Menopause Society. Roy Morgan Research has partnered us in the conduct of this research.

Sex Hormones in Older Women Study: Several studies have implicated low testosterone as an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and all-cause mortality in women. As CVD is a the leading cause of death in women in developed countries (25.3% of all deaths) and of women aged 65 and over, clarification of the relationship between androgens and CVD is an important step towards determining whether androgen physiology contributes to the pathophysiology of CVD in women. The SHOW Study has been funded by the NHMRC to investigate whether sex hormone levels in older women ( 70+ years) are associated with

  • All-cause mortality
  • Fatal and non-fatal cardiovascular events including a) coronary heart disease death, b) non-fatal myocardial infarction, c) fatal and non-fatal stroke and d) hospitalization for heart failure.

As part of the conduct of this study we will document normal levels for sex hormones in older women

Our research team is multi-disciplinary, comprising specialist physicians, general practitioners, an epidemiologist, biostatistician, research nurses and study coordinators, post doctoral fellows and higher degree students.

We have national and international collaborations with basic research scientists, health economists, clinicians and clinical researchers.

Health Education and Advocacy
The Women's Health Program has strong links with the community and government agencies and plays a key role in research translation and research advocacy. We have established dialogue between basic researchers, public health researchers, health care providers and consumers, such that the direction of the research is in line with public health needs; and we have created effective channels for the immediate translation of findings via publication of original research reports and evidence-based reviews in high impact journals, consensus statements and practice guidelines. We are also engaged in translation through the media, briefing of government and other health agencies, public health seminars and website communications.

We have played a key role in development of women's health guidelines for the US Endocrine Society, the International Menopause Society, the North American Menopause Society and the International Society of Sexual Medicine.