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Research consortium targets improved sleep health

20 February, 2013

Sleep specialists from Flinders University will play an integral role in a new $14.5 million sleep research consortium aimed at reducing impaired alertness and increasing the safety, productivity and health of all Australians.

The Cooperative Research Centre for Alertness, Safety and Productivity – a partnership between Monash, Sydney and Flinders universities – will develop a range of innovative strategies to reduce fatigue, resulting in fewer injuries, enhanced workplace performance and improved quality of life.

These new products and services, including an alertness "breathalyser" and individualised programs for better sleep health, are aimed at improving alertness and performance in the workplace, at home and in day-to-day life.

A key focus of the new Cooperative Research Centre (CRC), funded through the Federal Government, includes an extensive education and training program supporting an average of 12 PhD students and 15 postdoctoral research fellows each year over the seven-year program.

Flinders University Professor of Medicine Doug McEvoy said Flinders researchers working at the Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health would contribute their extensive knowledge to the Monash-based CRC, particularly in the area of diagnosed sleep disorders.

He said Professor Karen Reynolds, Deputy Dean of Flinders School of Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics, would also play a leading role in the development of new medical devices to both detect and prevent sleepiness.

"Our research strength at the Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health lies in medically-diagnosed sleep disorders which make up a high proportion of society’s sleep and alertness problems so we will be contributing particularly to that aspect of the CRC," Professor McEvoy said.

"This is a wonderful opportunity to attack a big community problem by a consortium of researchers across Australia and it’s great that Flinders is going to play such a big role.

"Insufficient sleep, from the pressures of a 24-hour society or sleep disorders such as sleep apnoea, has a major impact on alertness, productivity and safety but at a national level it hasn’t really been given the attention it deserves compared to drug and alcohol problems.  It is exciting to see that there will now be a concerted push to tackle these issues."

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