Clinicians and researchers from across Sydney have come together to launch Sydney Health Partners’ new Clinical Academic Group (CAG) program.

An inaugural workshop at Westmead Hospital gathered the leadership teams of the six recently appointed CAGs – Cardiovascular, Geriatric Medicine, Perioperative Care, Sydney Cancer Partners, Sydney Musculoskeletal and Virtual Care.

Attendees heard a keynote presentation from Professor Mark Parsons, the Executive Director of fellow Research Translation Centre Maridulu Budyari Gumal SPHERE, who spoke about the lessons they’ve learnt from their CAG program, now in its sixth year.

“The Research Translation Centres are still seen by some as primarily an academic enterprise, whereas clearly our main role should be improving outcomes in our health services.” said Professor Parsons.

Professor Parsons discussed the need for greater scaling up of local initiatives, greater participation by health service managers and clinicians in the CAGs to facilitate the identification of priorities and impact, and the importance of engaging industry representatives for groups focusing on innovation. 

Managing Director of King’s Health Partners in London, Ms Jill Lockett, presented via video recording and described the opportunities and lessons learned from their Clinical Academic Groups that were established over a decade ago.  She highlighted their growing emphasis on prevention and early intervention in recent years. 

The Convenor of Sydney Cancer Partners, Professor Anna DeFazio spoke about lessons learnt from her involvement in the University of Sydney’s long-established Cancer Research Network.

“A successful collaborative network or group requires inclusiveness and a sense of belonging,” she said. “It’s also crucial to get support from the top, from people who can see the bigger picture and have the ability to remove barriers that can hinder research translation.”

Co-leader of the Cardiovascular CAG, Prof Gemma Figtree, emphasised the importance of working with the health system to understand how costs associated with the disease can be lowered and the importance of data in demonstrating this.

The workshop provided the CAG leadership groups with information about Sydney Health Partners’ cross-cutting programs that support research translation including those in implementation science, consumer involvement, research governance, data access and clinical trials support.

SHP Executive Director, Professor Don Nutbeam, said the excellent response to the workshop was evidence of how much the health and medical research community cared about their engagement with the health system.

“Our colleagues are looking all the time at ways they can have a bigger impact on patient care, and they genuinely want to use innovation from research to make a difference to people’s lives.”

SHP Program Manager, Andria Ratchford, said the themes discussed during the workshop were relevant and important across all the research groups.  The topics included approaches to improving competitiveness of grant applications, managing implementation and research translation, engagement with consumers, and supporting early and mid-career clinician researchers. 

“The key takeaways are useful for all of the groups and will also provide SHP with ideas of how we can best support the CAGs.”

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