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1996 …2023

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Research Biography

Professor Robert Adams, MBBS, FRACP, FRCP, MD is a specialist respiratory and general physician with extensive experience in public health, clinical epidemiology and health services research. He completed post-doctoral training at the Channing Laboratory, Harvard Medical School and is  Professor of Respiratory and Sleep Medicine and Medical Director, Adelaide Institute of Sleep Health (AISH) at Flinders University.

Prof Adams has extensive experience with large population based cohort studies. He is Principal Investigator of The North West Adelaide Health Study (NWAHS) and co-led the process of harmonisation with the Florey Adelaide Male Ageing Study (FAMAS), such that there are now over 2000 men aged over 35 being followed in the Male Androgen, Inflammation, Lifestyle, Environment and Stress (MAILES) study with a further 2000 women in the cohort. He was responsible for the conduct of sleep studies in almost 850 men in the MAILES cohort, one of the largest studies worldwide of sleep health in the community.

He has designed and successfully implemented trials in the diagnosis and management of asthma, health service improvement and initiated cohort studies in mental health patients. He has been CI on NHMRC and ARC projects that examine healthy ageing in relation to obesity, and spatial epidemiology of metabolic health, and is a CI on the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence National Centre for Sleep Health Services Research.

Research Interests

 1. Sleep Health

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is very common, with up to half of adults having some form of the condition. OSA has a large negative effect on a number of areas of health - ie heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, mental health, accidents and quality of life.

At the Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health current research projects aim to better identify who is at risk of adverse health outcomes out of the large pool of people in the community who have some form of sleep apnea.  This works includes seeing if new markers of OSA on sleep studies  can be used to improve the precision for identifying those at risk of adverse consequences. We have a particular interest in gender differences in OSA and the impact of OSA on women's health.

Clinical studies aim to examine the relationship between obstructive sleep apnea and re-admissions to hospital for chronic conditions such as COPD and acute heart failure.

Sleep, biological rhythms and health outcomes is a focus of research. We use both big datasets and conduct clinical studies to examine the effect of the timing and quality of sleep, eating, physical activity and work on physical and mental health.

2. Population Health

Prof Adams leads a number of large scale representative population studies on health surveillance of chronic disease and related factors. The ultimate focus  is to contribute to positive ageing by improving population health across the life span. The work involves the tracking of population health to identify gaps/targets that can be better addressed through prevention strategies and/or better management of chronic conditions and conditions associated with ageing.

Examples of ongoing cohort studies include:

i) the North-West Adelaide Health Study (NWAHS), which has followed over 4000 adults since 2000 for a broad range of biopsychosocial and environmental variables, and resulted in over 150 publications so far (see )

ii) the Men, Androgens, Inflammation, Lifestyle, Environment Study (MAILES), which aims to examine non-traditional risk factors associated with the development of cardio-metabolic disease in men, and is following n=1629 men aged 40 years and over (see )

3. Health Services

The National Centre for Sleep Health Services ia an NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence that is designing and modelling new strategies for sleep disorders management in primary care, and is testing the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of these new strategies in primary care with a view to wider community deployment.

Research opportunities for all these projects exist at all levels from undergraduate student projects to PhD and Post-doctoral level for enthusiastic candidates.

External positions

Consultant Physician and Director Respiratory Clinical Research, Southern Adelaide Local Health Network

Adjunct Professor, Adelaide Medical School, University of Adelaide


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