The new Director of Perth's Telethon Institute for Child Health Research says his focus will be to ensure that high quality research is effectively translated to health practice and policy so that it makes a real difference to the lives of children and families. 


The University of Western Australia's Winthrop Professor Jonathan Carapetis started in the role last week after heading the Menzies School of Health Research in Darwin.


Professor Carapetis was appointed to replace Founding Director Professor Fiona Stanley, who retired at the end of last year.


Professor Carapetis said he was very keen to forge strong links with the people delivering health services at hospitals and the Health Department.


"As a paediatrician I know how important it is to have that strong connection between practice and research.  It not only means that we're working on the basis of the latest evidence but that what we see in clinics can also be fed back to shape and inform the type of research that's undertaken," Professor Carapetis said.


"The Telethon Institute has an outstanding record of advocacy and influence and I'll be very keen to see that continue and grow.


"In particular, Aboriginal child health research will continue to be a priority area and I am committed to pursuing that agenda at both the Institute level and through my own research interest in rheumatic heart disease."


Professor Carapetis said he was also excited by the Telethon Institute's strong focus on scientific discovery.


It's very important that we better understand the biological basis underpinning the disease process at the cellular and molecular levels as well as the influence of genetic and environmental factors.


"I think the mix of translational and discovery science is very powerful and gives the Institute a breadth and depth that sees it very well positioned for the future."


With the Institute's geographical position on Australia's west coast, Professor Carapetis said he was keen to increase its activity in international health issues.


"Our proximity to Asia and Africa and our expertise in child development and Indigenous child health research presents some excellent opportunities within the broader region," he said.


The Telethon Institute for Child Health Research was founded in 1990 and has more than 500 staff and postgraduate students investigating major diseases, disabilities and disorders affecting children and families.