Health Academics

Professor Caryn West

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Prof Caryn West is the Dean of Research for JCU Singapore and leads the second pillar of research within the Tropical Futures Institute which focuses on healthy aging and associated non-communicable diseases in Singapore.   Prof West is also the Head of Discipline for Nursing and Midwifery, JCU Australia and holds a number of administrative roles.

Professor Nigel V. Marsh

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Professor Nigel Marsh is a clinical psychologist with expertise in the areas of psychological assessment and research design. He has held academic appointments in Clinical Psychology in Australia, Lebanon, Malaysia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. He has served as a consultant in the areas of healthy ageing, occupational health, genetics and rehabilitation.

Professor Marsh has conducted research across the life span with published studies on age groups ranging from infants to older adults. His specific interests in the areas of healthy ageing are: (1) the impact of environmental or design factors on healthy ageing, (2) attitudes to ageing and their relationship to health, and (3) the evaluation of training of family caregivers for vulnerable older adults.

Professor Andreas Lopata

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Prof Andreas Lopata heads the Molecular Allergy Research Laboratory within the College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Sciences and the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine and leads the Molecular Immunology Program in the Centre for Molecular Therapeutics. Since joining James Cook University-Townsville in 2011, he has built an internationally recognised research team with a major focus on the diagnosis and treatment of allergies specific to the Asia-Pacific region. Prof Lopata is considered a world leader on seafood allergy and contributes to the development of national and international guidelines and expert committees.

Allergies are reaching worldwide epidemic status with approximately 10% of children being affected by food. Although food allergies are most common among young children, the occurrence of food allergy is increasing in adulthood and will especially in the elderly become more pronounced. While almost 15% of elderly have some type of food allergy, asthma and rhinitis, we know very little about this allergy epidemic in the tropical regions. Allergic diseases represent an old/new emerging health issue, with most of the world's people and two-thirds of its children will be living in the tropics by 2050.

Prof Lopata’s team uses cutting-edge molecular, cellular and population-based approaches in characterising the interactions of different allergen sources with the human immune system, leading to allergic and often chronic inflammatory reactions.

Assoc Professor Denise Dillon

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A/Prof Denise Dillon is the Associate Dean Research Education at JCU Singapore, which involves her working with supervisors and HDR candidates to facilitate a strong culture of research supervision at JCU Singapore. Denise’s disciplinary training is in cognitive and environmental psychology, and her research interests are primarily in the area of human-environment and human-animal interactions, and biophilia. She is a certified Forest Therapy Guide.

Psychological research over several decades leaves little doubt that exposure to and regular immersion in nature and urban green spaces is beneficial to human health and life satisfaction. With predictions that 50% of the world’s population will live in tropical nations by 2050, it is clear that we need to understand how humans respond to urban living and curated green space environments in order to inform public policies on urban design for healthy ageing.

Assoc Professor Christopher Lo

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Dr Christopher Lo is an Associate Professor in Psychology at JCU Singapore. He holds appointments in the Department of Psychiatry and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at University of Toronto, Canada. Chris has expertise in fields of medical/health psychology and palliative and supportive care. His work has concerned the assessment and improvement of quality of life and quality of care in geriatric populations, especially patients (and their families) coping with advanced or progressive illness. He has experience in the development of supportive care interventions, including implementation science approaches for the rapid deployment of interventions in clinical or applied healthcare settings.

Chris' research interests include studies of life course and aging, especially the social determinants of mental health across the lifespan, which may include family, community and cultural supports. His contributions have included modeling the relational system between patients and caregivers and their ability to make use of social connectedness to meet the challenges of illness and aging; and discussion of a developmental perspective to explain individual differences in end-of-life experiences. His skills include quantitative and qualitative methods and their mixing, measurement of patient-centred outcomes, and clinical trials design and program evaluation.

Dr Thimo Ruethers

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Thimo Ruethers is a Research Fellow in Human Health & Aging at the Tropical Futures Institute and an Adjunct Lecturer in Molecular Biology at James Cook University, Australia. His primary research activities focus on molecular interactions between food and humans, including allergic diseases, with the aim to promote food safety and healthier diets throughout life. Evaluating tropical aquaculture products and novel foods for their potential to trigger food allergies is of particular interest.

As researcher and science communicator, he has contributed to a brighter future in the tropics and worldwide while based in Australia, Austria, Germany, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. He now focuses on Singapore’s healthy, safe, and sustainable food future, utilising over a decade of international interdisciplinary research experience and expertise in allergology, proteomics, immunology and molecular medicine.

Aiming for translational collaborative research excellence and subsequent discoveries that make a difference, he is always interested in hearing from students keen on HDR projects, and from academics, companies, and other stakeholders. Overall and foremost, Dr Ruethers seeks to help overcome challenges in securing humanity's (alternative) food protein needs under careful consideration of food safety, allergic diseases, and planetary health.