The focus of the Flinders University Gastroenterology and Hepatology Unit is the provision of excellence in health care in the setting of a world-class academic medical centre.
As such our staff are committed to undertaking cutting edge research to advance medical knowledge that takes scientific discovery and applies it to create novel methods to treat and prevent disease in a setting that fosters clinical development and training.
The Gastroenterology Unit exemplifies a clinical research environment targeted to deliver meaningful and worthwhile changes in Health that not only benefit our patients but ensure these are scalable on a regional and national basis.
The focus on problem solving ensures our scientists provide better tools for clinical staff who in turn use these to validate the science. In this environment clinicians and academics interact in an iterative fashion to improve health outcomes.
A multidisciplinary approach encourages researchers are freed from restrictions of their training as they work alongside experts in other fields to translates science to tangible clinical outcomes.
Within this environment there are opportunities in ongoing clinical and basic research programs for students (including those seeking a Medical and Scientific Higher Degree by Research) to undertake exciting and innovative studies.
Professor Robert Fraser
Professor of Gastroenterology
Flinders School of Medicine
Our key research areas include:
As a key member of the Flinders Centre for GI Cancer Prevention the unit has a major role in the screening and surveillance of common gastrointestinal malignancies such as cancer of the oesophagus, colon and liver.
Bowel cancer screening
Australia is a world-leader bowel cancer screening and surveillance and researchers at Flinders University have played a critical role in the development of the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program. Our research team has studied both the immediate and longer term impacts of screening on the health of the population demonstrating significant downstaging of colorectal cancer for participants in the program.
Ongoing research is also targeted at new blood based markers to detect and monitor early colorectal cancer when treatment is most likely to be curative.
Ongoing research is also focused on the methods to ensure efficient life long surveillance for patients found to have high risk clinical conditions due to personal or family history. The SCOOP program currently monitors over 8000 patients within the region allowing the investigation of novel strategies to manage the ongoing risk of colorectal malignancy.
Oesophageal cancer screening
In collaboration with the Flinders University Department of Surgery, the team is an integral part of the Barrett’s Oesophagus Surveillance (BOSS) program for the prevention of oesophageal cancer.
The ability to digest of food is critically dependent on the organization of contractions of the muscles in the wall of the oesophagus, stomach and intestine. These are highly regulated by a complex nervous network unique in the body. Disruption to normal patterns of contraction leads to symptoms such as pain and disturbed bowel function that affect up to 30% of the population
New measurement techniques developed by our researchers combined with a close collaboration with neuroscientists at Flinders University and SAHMRI have resulted in their recognition as world leaders in their investigations to understand both normal and abnormal gut motility and devise novel strategies to manage these conditions.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (principally manifest as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease) is major cause of illness in the community. The gastroenterologists within the department have a major research interest in understanding both the causes and novel treatments for these conditions.
These research activities involve both basic and clinical studies that include the use of novel biologic approaches to therapy.
The Flinders Medical Centre is the Liver Transplantation Centre for South Australia and the Northern Territory and the hepatologists within the Unit have a well-established track record in the promotion and study of chronic care pathways for liver disease.
In addition there are ongoing clinical trial opportunities to investigate the effectiveness of novel therapeutic approaches in the management of hepatitis and hepatocellular carcinoma.