Professor Melissa Wake
Consultant Paediatrician Melissa Wake's research focus is on population paediatrics: what universal, primary and secondary care systems are needed to make a difference to children's health and development? Her research interests span the common conditions of childhood and the antecedents of adult diseases of ageing.
She has conducted numerous randomised trials in the areas of obesity, blood pressure, language, literacy, working memory, hearing, sleep and mental health. She was instrumental in achieving the Victorian Infant Hearing Screening Program, now reaching over 99% of all newborns every year and underpinning the MCRI's expanding program of population-based and clinical hearing research. Health Design Leader for the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children since its inception, she currently leads its intergenerational physical health and biorepository (the Child Health CheckPoint), which is housed at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute.
Awards include the 2009 Australian Health Minister's Prize for Excellence in Health & Medical Research and consecutive NHMRC Excellence Awards (2009-12, 2013-16) as top-ranked Research Fellow in Australia. Projects she led have twice appeared in the NHMRC's annual 'Ten of the Best' publication (2008, 2017).
- Cure Kids Professor of Child Health Research, Department of Paediatrics: Child & Youth Health and the Liggins Institute, University of Auckland, New Zealand
- Professorial Fellow, Department of Paediatrics, The University of Melbourne
2013-17: NHMRC Elizabeth Blackburn Fellow: Highest-ranked Public Health Research Fellowship to a female applicant
2012: NHMRC Excellence Award: Highest-ranked Research Fellowship
2009: The 2009 Australian Health Minister's Award for Excellence in Health and Medical Research (medal and $50,000 prize)
2008: NHMRC Excellence Award: Highest-ranked Public Health Career Development Award
2008: '10 of the Best' 2008 - publication celebrating ten outstanding Project Grants each year, from around 700 funded by the Australian NH&MRC. For 'Overweight/obesity, activity patterns, and health in 4-year-olds' (Project Grant 334308; CIA – Wake
Professor Wake's population-based research centres around intervention efficacy, natural history, cost and burden.
Her randomised trials have targeted obesity (3) and blood pressure (1), sleep (4), language, literacy and hearing (4), working memory (1) and mental health (4). For maximal policy relevance, her trials are highly harmonised on core measures and all include prospective economic analysis.
Her longitudinal epidemiologic studies are broad in remit to support the goal of understanding and mapping the shared underpinnings of multiple non-communicable diseases. Focus areas include language, hearing, obesity, cardiovascular risk and food allergy.
Professor Wake has had major successes in research translation. For example, she secured and until recently was responsible for the Victorian Infant Hearing Screening Program (VIHSP), after a decade of epidemiological research and advocacy. VIHSP now screens over 70,000 babies annually, employs approximately 110 staff, and is springboarding a new program of ongoing population-based research into children's congenital hearing loss. Similarly successful statewide government-funded implementation has followed the sleep trials co-led with Dr Harriet Hiscock.
In 2013-17, her focus is on building platforms that can be used by generations of resarchers. She leads the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children's Child Health CheckPoint , a state-of-the art intergenerational physical health and biomarkers repository to advance knowledge of the genesis of non-communicable diseases.
- Growing up in Australia's Child Health CheckPoint
- VicCHILD (Victorian Childhood Hearing Impairment Longitudinal Databank)
- Memory Maestros
- APRN (Australian Paediatric Research Network)
- CRE in Child Language
Sung V, Hiscock H, Tang M, Mensah F, Nation M, Satzke C, Heine R, Stock A, Barr R, Wake M. Treating infant colic with the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri: double-blind, placebo-controlled randomised trial. BMJ 2014;348:g2107
Wake M, Lycett K, Clifford S A, Sabin M A, Gunn J, Gibbon K, Hutton C, McCallum Z, Arnup S, Wittert G. Shared-care obesity management in 3-10 year old children: 12 month outcomes of HopSCOTCH randomised trial. BMJ 2013;346:f3092
Price AM, Wake M, Ukoumunne OC, Hiscock H.. Five-year follow-up of harms and benefits of behavioural infant sleep intervention: Randomized trial. Pediatrics 2012;130(4):643-651
Wake M, Tobin S, Girolametto L, Ukoumunne O, Gold L, Levickis P, Sheehan J, Goldfeld S, Reilly S. Outcomes of population-based language promotion for slow-to-talk toddlers at ages 2 and 3 years: The Let's Learn Language cluster randomised controlled trial. BMJ 2011; 343,d4741
Wake M, Baur L, Gerner B, Gibbons K, Gold L, Gunn J, Levickis P, McCallum Z, Naughton G, Sanci L, Ukoumunne OC. Outcomes and costs of primary care surveillance and intervention for overweight or obese children: the LEAP 2 randomised controlled trial. BMJ 2009;339,b3308
Jansen PW, Mensah FK, Nicholson JM, Wake M. Family and neighbourhood socioeconomic inequalities in childhood trajectories of BMI and overweight: Longitudinal Study of Australian Children. PlosOne 2013;8(7):e69676
Sung V, Collett S, de Gooyer T, Hiscock H, Tang M, Wake M. Probiotics to prevent or treat excessive infant crying: systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA Pediatrics 2013;167(12):1150-7.
Wake M, Tobin S, Levickis P, Gold L, Ukoumunne OC, Zens N, Goldfeld S, Le H, Law J, Reilly S. Randomized trial of a population-based home-delivered intervention for preschool language delay. Pediatrics 2013;132(4):e895-e904
Reilly S, Onslow M, Packman A, Cini E, Conway L, Ukoumunne OC, Bavin EL, Prior M, Eadie P, Block S, Wake M. Natural History of Stuttering to 4 Years of Age: A Prospective Community-Based Study. Pediatrics 2013;132(3):460-467
Jansen PW, Mensah FK, Clifford S, Nicholson JM, Wake M. Bidirectional associations between overweight and health-related quality of life from 4-11 years: Longitudinal Study of Australian Children. International Journal of Obesity 2013;37(10):1307-1313