Australian Women and Girls’ Health Research (AWaGHR) Centre

Epidemiology, Methodology, Policy

Our mission is to improve the health of women and girls across their life course – from pre-conception to older age – through epidemiological research, translation, and collaborations that bridge the gap between research and implementation.

The Australian Women and Girls’ Health Research Centre builds off the achievements of the Centre for Longitudinal and Life course Research, which operated from 2011 to 2021. The centre’s research and translation activities are founded on three pillars of expertise: epidemiology of women and girls’ health, methodology, and knowledge translation into clinical practice and policy.

Our research sheds light on the interrelated biological, behavioural, and social factors that influence women and girls’ health throughout their life course. We recognise that the role these factors play during a girl’s childhood is critical to the future wellbeing of the woman she becomes, and to her future children’s health and development.

Together, we will create change in women and girls’ health by:

  • Engaging with women, clinicians, and policymakers to establish research agendas that are relevant to women’s needs.
  • Collaborating with experts to translate our research into policies, guidelines, tools, and programs that deliver real economic, societal, and health impacts.
  • Supporting students and researchers to build capacity in women and girls’ health research and translation.

Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health (ALSWH)

The Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health (ALSWH) is a cohort study funded by the Australian Department of Health. With over 50 thousand participants followed-up regularly since 1996, it is one of the leading studies of its kind in the world. The data, provided by four generations of women, has contributed to a wealth of health polices and guidelines at the state and national level.

NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence on Women and Non-Communicable Diseases: Prevention and Detection (CRE WaND)

The National Health and Medical Research Council funded Centre for Research Excellence on Women and Non-communicable Diseases: Prevention and Detection (CRE WaND), is based around ALSWH and record linkage with administrative and other data sets including birth and death records, hospitalisation, cancer registration, pharmaceutical and other health service use.

Genetic variants, Early Life exposures, and Longitudinal Endometriosis symptoms Study (GELLES)

The Genetic variants, Early Life exposures, and Longitudinal Endometriosis symptoms Study (GELLES) aims to improve our understanding of the factors that put women at increased risk of endometriosis and delay its diagnosis. GELLES is a substudy of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health 1989-95 cohort.

International collaboration for a Life course Approach to reproductive health and Chronic disease Events (InterLACE)

The InterLACE project combines data at the individual level from more than 800,000 participants from 26 existing observational studies to investigate the role of reproductive health across the life course on future chronic disease events including cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Menarche to pre-Menopause: Reproductive factors and risk of cardiometabolic and respiratory conditions (M-PreM)

The M-PreM project aims to understand how reproductive characteristics affect women’s chances of having chronic diseases and poor health later in life. The study will look at characteristics like the timing of women’s first period (menarche), period symptoms, pregnancy, and pelvic problems. M-PreM is a substudy of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health’s 1973-78 cohort.

The Mothers and their Children’s Healthcare Experience Study (MatCHES)

The Mothers and their Children’s Healthcare Experience Study (MatCHES) is investigating women’s experiences of preventive healthcare from before conception through to pregnancy and early childhood. MatCHES is a substudy of the 1989-95 cohort of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health.

Mothers and their Children's Health study (MatCH)

The Mother’s and their Children’s Health (MatCH) study takes a life course approach to investigate the influence of preconception maternal health and wellbeing on the growth and development of children. This project is a substudy based on the children of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health’s 1973-78 ALSWH cohort.

Improving Australia’s Dementia Statistics

This project, funded by the NHMRC’s Boosting Dementia Research initiative, involves close collaboration with the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and the Australian Bureau of Statistics to produce protocols and algorithms for the on-going production of high-quality data and summary statistics on dementia in Australia.

Hysterectomy, Oophorectomy and Long-term chronic Disease – the HOLD study

Each year >27,000 Australian women have a hysterectomy for a benign condition, often with removal of one or both ovaries (oophorectomy). This surgery can profoundly affect women’s reproductive hormones and may influence risk of chronic conditions such as ischaemic heart disease (IHD) and cancer. Despite this, the long-term health effects of these procedures are unclear. The HOLD study, funded via an NHMRC Ideas Grant, will address the evidence gap by conducting a whole-of-population, cross-jurisdictional data linkage study. Unique in its size, scope, data quality, and approach, the HOLD study will provide new high-quality evidence to inform clinical guidelines and enable informed decisions about whether hysterectomy is the best treatment for a woman’s short and long-term health.

Maternal and early life origins of adolescent menstrual disorders and pelvic pain

Menstrual disorders – irregular, heavy, or painful periods – and pelvic pain are common among adolescent girls and disrupt life activities. Not enough is known about the maternal and early life factors linked with these conditions. This study addresses evidence gaps with new data on menstruation in adolescence, combined with previous data available from these girls and their mothers. The new knowledge on the development of these conditions will inform and guide their prevention and management. This study is funded by an NHMRC Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies Grant.

Moving beyond one-size-fits-all: Exploring the optimal doses of physical activity and sedentary behaviour across the lifespan for prevention of non-communicable chronic diseases

It is well known that physical inactivity is a risk factor for the development of non-communicable chronic diseases. This NHMRC funded research program will determine the optimal doses of physical activity and sedentary behaviour during childhood, adolescence, adulthood and old age to prevent mental and physical health conditions. This research program will inform the development of strategies to reduce the social and fiscal burden of non-communicable chronic diseases in Australia.

Director

  • Professor Gita Mishra

    Deputy Head of School and Division Head, Epidemiology and Biostatistics
    NHMRC Leadership Fellow
    School of Public Health

Theme Leaders

Academic staff

Professional staff

HDR students

Our team are internationally recognised for their extensive experience in life course epidemiology and biostatistics, population health, and health systems research.

The centre’s research and translation activities are built on three pillars of expertise encompassing:

Since 2012 we have received a range of funding, including from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) and Commonwealth Government Department of Health.

NHMRC

  • Mothers and their Children’s Health (2014-2019)
  • M-preM study: Reproductive factors, from menarche to pre-menopause, and the risk of cardiometabolic and respiratory conditions before menopause (2017-2021)
  • Centre of Research Excellence on Women and Non-communicable Disease (CRE WaND): Prevention and Detection (2019-2024)
  • Improving Australia’s Dementia Statistics (2020-2022)
  • Hysterectomy, Oophorectomy and Long-term chronic Disease – the HOLD study
  • Tackling Multimorbidity across the life course
  • Maternal and early life origins of adolescent menstrual disorders and pelvic pain

MRFF

  • Genetic variants, Early Life exposures, and Longitudinal Endometriosis Symptoms study (GELLES) (2020-2024)
  • Mothers and their Children’s Healthcare Experience Study (MatCHES) (2021-2025)

Australian Government Department of Health

  • The Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health (2012-2023)

The AWaGHR Centre is seeking exceptional and highly motivated PhD candidates to undertake research on a range of projects associated with women and girls’ health.

The Centre conducts research on a broad range of health issues across the human lifespan and is located at the University of Queensland’s School of Public Health at the Herston Campus, Brisbane, Queensland.

The Centre has a range of projects to offer, from studying the intra- and inter- generational effects of socio-economic, behavioural, and lifestyle factors on a range of health, wellbeing and health service use outcomes. We also offer projects associated with statistical methodology in longitudinal and life course data.

PhD projects will be based on data from the following studies: