The Implementation Science Academy will build on SHP’s existing implementation science community of practice with new initiatives focussed on capacity and capability, innovation in implementation science and collaboration and partnerships. The Academy will undertake several new activities - including upcoming fellowship and mentoring programs – designed to support targeted research translation across the Sydney Health Partnership.

At the launch, Sydney Health Partners Executive Director Don Nutbeam said the Academy represents a wonderful opportunity to consolidate and expand the work SHP has been doing in implementation science.

“Seven years ago, we decided that if we wished to improve health and medical research translation, we needed to understand the nature of change and the science of implementation,” he said. “So, while the Academy has not come about overnight, it has found its moment.”

Guest speaker at the launch, Columbia University Associate Professor Rachel Shelton, described a program of implementation science work she leads for the Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research in New York

“We’ve learned that having a research program alone does not ensure widespread uptake of its findings, especially not equitable uptake,” she said. “We need to think about implementation and equity from the beginning of research, in ways that reflect real-world settings.”

Launch of the Implementation Science Academy

The Academy will be guided by the expanded implementation science leadership team appointed by Sydney Health Partners in mid-2022.

Leading the Capacity and Capability initiative is Associate Professor in Sydney School of Health Sciences at the University of Sydney, Leanne Hassett. She is a past National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Translating Research Into Practice (TRIP) Fellow, and during her fellowship studied implementation science with the Training Institute for Dissemination and Implementation Research in Health (TIDIRH Australia) and the principles and practice of behaviour change at University College London. Associate Professor Hassett has also led two Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF)-supported implementation studies in physical activity and disability.

Dr Mitchell Sarkies leads the Innovation in Implementation Science initiative and is a Senior Lecturer and NHMRC Emerging Leadership Fellow at the University of Sydney’s School of Health Sciences. He leads multiple programs of research harnessing implementation science and complexity science to enhance evidence-informed models of care. Dr Sarkies led the implementation of evidence-based policy recommendations for weekend allied health services across 132 hospitals in Australia and New Zealand.

Leading the Collaboration and Partnerships initiative is Dr Heather Shepherd, who is a Senior Lecturer in the Susan Wakil School of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of Sydney. Dr Shepherd combines a background as a critical care, reproductive and sexual health nurse, with experience in health services management and implementing research in health care. A Senior Lecturer at the Susan Wakil School of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of Sydney, Dr Shepherd was previously Research Fellow and Program Manager of the ADAPT Program, led by the Psycho-oncology Co-operative Research Group (POCOG) and funded by a Cancer Institute NSW Translational Program Grant.

The three initiative leaders will continue to receive support in the development of the Implementation Science Academy program from Professors Julie Redfern and Andrew Baillie.

Professor Redfern is a Professor of Public Health at the University of Sydney, and a driving force behind the creation of the Academy. Post-doctorally, she completed a National Institute of Clinical Studies Implementation Science Fellowship, currently holds a NHRMC Investigator Grant, and has been a Chief Investigator on over 20 projects aimed at closing evidence-practice gaps for people with various chronic diseases.

Professor Baillie is a clinical psychologist and Professor of Allied Health at the University of Sydney. He uses implementation science to inform his work as an embedded researcher in Sydney Local Health District where he works to build allied health research capacity. Professor Baillie is the former convener of the Academic Implementation Science Network for Sydney Health Partners and has provided long term leadership and mentoring in implementation science over the past five years, strengthening SHP’s working relationship with its health partners.

Further details of the Implementation Science Academy leadership team, Academy initiatives and related activities can be found on the new website.

Image: (L-R) Professor Andrew Baillie, Dr Mitchell Sarkies, Dr Heather Shepherd, Associate Professor Rachel Shelton, Associate Professor Leanne Hassett, Professor Julie Redfern, Professor Don Nutbeam.