Research

Test tubes in a rack on a labratory bench

Our commitment to quality research

St Vincent’s Private Hospitals are at the forefront of research, clinical education and training in the private health sector. We’re committed to quality research in the areas of acute and chronic care, innovative healthcare delivery, translational research, and vulnerable communities.

We draw on the expertise of our people and form collaborative research partnerships with experts who share our vision and values. Like us, our partners believe in holistic care informed by the latest evidence, and they continuously strive to improve and ensure best practice.

Our partners

St Vincent’s Private Hospitals work in partnership with several universities and research institutes, where many of our specialists are actively involved in clinical hospital research. This is part of our continued commitment to expand the evidence base in healthcare. 

We also have access to a number of grants from funding bodies including, but not limited to:

Our partnerships and funding grants provide significant support for both staff and infrastructure costs. They have enabled our research profile and programs to grow considerably over the years.

The Kinghorn Cancer Centre

The Kinghorn Cancer Centre focuses on the translation of cancer research findings into new diagnostic, prognostic and treatment options, with an emphasis on breast, prostate, gastrointestinal (pancreatic and colorectal) and haematological cancers. Their research aims to produce outcomes that are targeted, effective and suitable for integration into larger nationwide cancer treatment services.

Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute

Research at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute covers all forms of heart disease, with a particular focus on those that affect the heart’s muscle tissue. Research programs address issues including heart development and congenital heart disease, inherited heart diseases, the potential application of adult stem cell technologies in cardiovascular care and how heart function is regulated in response to stresses like high blood pressure and ageing.

Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute

Garvan Institute of Medical Research

Research at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research is focused on understanding the role of genes and molecular and cellular processes in health and disease as the basis for developing future preventions, treatments and cures.

For over 50 years, significant breakthroughs have been achieved by Garvan scientists in the understanding and treatment of diseases such as:

  • Cancer
  • Diabetes and obesity
  • Neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, hearing loss, mental illnesses and eating disorders
  • Osteoporosis
  • Immunological diseases such as asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and Sjogren’s syndrome

The O’Brien Institute

The O'Brien Institute (OBI) merged with St Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research (SVI) in 2015, and is now known as the OBI Department. Since its establishment in 1970, the OBI made outstanding advances in replantation surgery and the transfer – by microsurgical techniques – of body parts and tissue to reconstruct people affected by trauma, cancer, burns and congenital deformity. 

Now, the OBI Department conducts internationally recognised scientific research into clinical problems typically treated by plastic surgeons. These problems include impaired healing and deficits of soft tissue or tissue injury following trauma, cancer treatment, or congenital deformity.

The O’Brien Institute

Victorian Breast & Oncology Care

Victorian Breast and Oncology Care is a unique group of medical specialists who offer coordinated multidisciplinary care in the diagnosis and treatment of all breast conditions and many cancers, in particular lymphoma, gynaecological cancers, bowel and lung cancer.

The Patricia Ritchie Centre for Cancer Care and Research

The Patricia Ritchie Centre for Cancer Care and Research houses a busy clinical chemotherapy service, research office, and multidisciplinary teams in breast cancer, gynaecological cancer and head and neck cancer. These are closely linked to surgical, radiation oncology and diagnostic services within the Mater hospital. 

The Patricia Ritchie Centre offers a range of clinical trials of promising new therapies to patients with cancer. These trials offer patients access to revolutionary medications years before they are readily available. 

Working closely with national and international academic groups, the centre has been involved in practice-changing cancer research over the past 10 years, most notably in relation to HER2 positive breast cancer treatment. 

The Patricia Ritchie Centre for Cancer Care and Research

Melanoma Institute Australia

The world’s largest melanoma treatment and research centre, The Poche Centre is home to the Melanoma Institute Australia. Made possible through a generous donation of $40 million from philanthropist Mr Greg Poche AO, the purpose built centre is a world class, integrated cancer treatment centre. 

The Poche Centre expands existing cancer services at the Mater hospital and its establishment enables the very best possible care for melanoma patients.

Dedicated to minimising the devastating impact of melanoma on the community, Melanoma Institute Australia is affiliated with St Vincent’s Health Australia as well as the University of Sydney.

Research application process

We welcome applications to conduct research at, or in collaboration with, St Vincent’s Private Hospitals. 

The first step is to make an application to our research committee to consider whether the proposed project is appropriate for the hospital. The application is then considered by the research committee which meets on the first Tuesday of each month. 

Possible outcomes:

  • The committee may approve the project at this meeting if it is a simple quality assurance (QA) project.
  • The project is identified as needing ethics approval and you will be notified to submit the project to the Human Research and Ethics Committee (HREC).
  • The project is identified as already having ethics approval for other sites and you will be notified to seek an extension to the existing ethics approval to include St Vincent's Private Hospitals.
  • The project is rejected as not being appropriate for the hospital.

Once approval from the HREC is received, the project comes back to the research committee for sign off. The application then finally goes for approval by the hospital executive.

Please note that the application to the hospital is not an ethics application.

Fees

Fees will apply when you undertake a commercially sponsored trial and service charges are applied to all trials. Principal investigators of the trials are also required to submit an annual report.


For more information regarding commercially sponsored trials, please contact us.

Human Research Ethics Committee

Human research is research conducted with or about people, or their data or tissue. St Vincent’s Health Australia understands the vital role that research plays in improving health outcomes across the service. Supporting research initiatives is part of the organisational strategic plan to achieve exceptional care.

It’s a requirement for institutions like St Vincent’s to have a process in place for the ethical and governance review of human research. All research projects being conducted at, or recruiting participants from St Vincent’s Health Australia facilities, require ethics approval by the St Vincent’s Health and Aged Care Human Research Ethics Committee (SVHAC HREC).

The SVHAC HREC is registered with the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) (NHMRC Registration No: EC00324). It is constituted in accordance with the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research 2007.

Being part of a Catholic health and aged care organisation, it’s also required that all research submissions comply with the Code of Ethical Standards for Catholic Health and Aged Care Services in Australia.

How to lodge a research submission

HREC staff have extensive experience preparing and reviewing submissions to the SVHAC HREC, and are able to provide advice and assistance with submissions to the committee, as well as site-specific applications for governance review. 

We encourage all researchers wishing to undertake projects involving humans across the network to contact the SVHAC HREC Research Ethics and Governance Officer at svhac.hrec@svha.org.au

The SVHAC HREC Research Ethics and Governance Officer will help you determine the specific documentation required for your research project, all of which will need to be submitted by email. Some important resources are listed below.

Once the submission has been received, it will be reviewed and categorised as either low/negligible risk or greater-than-low risk. Low/negligible risk research may qualify for expedited review outside of the scheduled HREC meeting times. Any research that is determined to be more than low risk will require full ethics review. The SVHAC HREC conducts full ethics reviews at its bi-monthly meetings. 

Please contact us to find out more about HREC submissions and meeting dates for 2020/2021.

Complaints procedure

The SVHAC HREC is committed to fulfilling Section 5.6 of the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research and ensuring that research is conducted according to the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research by ensuring that all complaints are handled appropriately. 

All complaints will be handled promptly with due sensitivity and in recognition of principles of natural justice. The SVHAC HREC will efficiently, effectively and ethically deal with complaints made to the HREC irrespective of the source or nature of the complaint.

Research participants, their families and other concerned parties have the right to communicate their concerns about any aspect of the services provided and are encouraged to do so. To facilitate this process, the HREC will ensure that all information sheets for research participants contain the contact information for the HREC Chair:

St Vincent’s Health & Aged Care Human Research Ethics Committee

Phone: (07) 3435  1615 

What to do if you have a complaint

In the first instance, you can contact the researcher directly to resolve your concerns. If for any reason you don’t feel comfortable talking with the researcher, or if you’re not satisfied with their response, please contact the Research Ethics and Governance Officer by email at svhac.hrec@svha.org.au

Our research studies and publications

At St Vincent’s Private Hospital Brisbane, research studies have focused on setting the standards for best practice in palliative care.

Current research studies and trials where data collection has been completed, include:

Research results are published on PubMed

Current research studies and trials where data collection is still in progress, include:

  • Evaluation of Bupa Program of Palliative Care Choices at St Vincent’s Private Hospital, Brisbane
  • A retrospective chart analysis examining two different methods for converting strong opioid analgesics to oral methadone in palliative patients with severe pain
  • Genomic variation in symptom expression in men with castrate resistant prostate Cancer (CRPC)
  • An open label pilot study of oral water soluble contrast (Gastrografin) in addition to conservative medical management for the resolution of malignant bowel obstruction in adult participants
  • A pragmatic, phase III, multi-site, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-arm, dose increment randomised trial of regular, low-dose extended-release morphine for chronic refractory breathlessness
St Vincent’s Private Hospital Northside has a large number of projects underway, particularly relating to cancer and colorectal surgery. Research projects currently being conducted include:
  • A sequential multiple assignment randomised trial (SMART) of nursing interventions to reduce pain associated with chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropath.
  • Immune and parenchymal cells in lung disease: Accelerating diagnostic and therapeutic discovery – IMPALA study
  • COLOR III: A multicentre randomised clinical trial comparing transanal TME versus laparoscopic TME for mid and low rectal cancer
  • Outcomes of Transanal Total Mesorectal Excision (TaTME) in Australia
A number of research projects are also being conducted at St Vincent’s Private Hospital Toowoomba, primarily investigating nursing, urology, and patient outcomes. Some active projects include:
  • A collaborative initiative to improve wound management, knowledge and practice in an Aboriginal Medical Service within Toowoomba
  • Exploring the impact of Buccal Mucosal Graft harvesting for urethroplasty on oral quality of life: A prospective study