Innovative research for 100 years

At the Kolling Institute of Medical Research, we have brought together a talented, dedicated and experienced team to pioneer new treatments and improve the health of our community.

As the longest-running research organisation in NSW, the institute is recognised as a world leading centre linking the Northern Sydney Local Health District with the University of Sydney.

It has been at the forefront of research for 100 years, turning scientific discoveries into medical realities. Today, hundreds of researchers are part of the Kolling team, all driven by a common goal to help diagnose, prevent and treat disease – and improve the care our community receives.

Our Kolling Institute researchers are in a unique position as part of a large health system - directly able to incorporate scientific breakthroughs into clinical practice. Supported by the latest technology and strong partnerships, our teams are embracing innovative research and improving the lives of those living with disease.

Ageing & Pharmacology

Ageing & Pharmacology

Researchers within the Laboratory of Ageing and Pharmacology are working to improve healthy ageing in older people.Our focus is on prevention and better management of the geriatric syndromes, including frailty, falls and confusion.

We are part of the Penney Ageing Research Unit and our research aims to improve the safety and effectiveness of medicines for older adults. We use laboratory, clinical and population based studies to understand the risks and benefits of medicines in older people, particularly with those with multiple chronic medical conditions. Our research aims to inform drug choices, doses and formulations of medicines for older people. This will help older people benefit from medicines and minimise adverse effects.

We have developed a pharmacological risk assessment tool, the Drug Burden Index, to assess the impact of an older person’s medicines on their physical function. We have demonstrated that higher Drug Burden Index is linked to loss of independence, more falls, frailty, longer stays in hospital and a greater mortality.

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Allied Health

Research within the Kolling Institute focuses on the role of allied health professionals in patient care, from assessment and diagnosis to the management of patients.

Across the Northern Sydney Local Health District, there are more than 1,300 allied health professionals, representing 11 per cent of the workforce. These teams not only provide vital support in hospitals and specialist clinics, but in community settings as well.

The Northern Sydney Local Health District Allied Health Research team undertakes activities which encourage the participation of allied health clinicians in research activities. We are working collaboratively to build a culture of research which will ultimately inform best-practice care for patients.

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The human body is made up of billions of cells. Old and damaged cells are continually being replaced by new cells. Cancer is the breakdown of this process and can happen in any part of the body. When a cancer develops, the body’s cells divide and grow out of control. They then form growths called tumours that can invade surrounding tissue and these tumours are known as malignant cancers.

At the Kolling Institute, our cancer research aims to identify and overcome the factors that drive cancer development so that we can improve patient outcomes. We have a number of cancer research teams with different expertise, specialising in chemotherapy resistance, immunotherapies, genetics, epigenetics, diagnostic services and clinical trials. Importantly, these teams have access to an active tissue bank and the latest equipment.

Our cancer research rapidly implements laboratory findings into clinical practice and is supported by the Cancer Institute Translational Centre, Sydney Vital. By bringing together research scientists, clinicians and allied health professionals, we are able to combine innovative and cutting edge research with personalised treatment strategies for cancer patients.

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Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Australia and worldwide.

Our cardiology teams are committed to preventing death and suffering from heart disease. Our leading research aims to improve the prediction and prevention of heart attacks, and the management of heart attack patients. We are also working to improve diagnosis of the disease.

We are a group of scientists and physicians developing patient-focused research to target the major challenges of diseases of the heart and blood vessels. The Kolling Institute’s close collaboration with the Royal North Shore Hospital ensures our clinical observations and scientific breakthroughs are directly incorporated into patient care.

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Our research at the Cognitive Decline Partnership Centre focuses on developing evidence-based guidelines for best practice dementia care in the clinical and community settings..

We are a team with expertise across a range of disciplines, all working to improve the lives of people with dementia. We focus on priority areas in dementia care so that our research findings can lead to improved practices.

By bringing together people with dementia, their carers, researchers, clinicians, health care organisations and industry partners, we are well placed to translate our research into practice.

Our team addresses areas of national interest and examines these from the perspective of those receiving, delivering, managing and governing services.

The Cognitive Decline Partnership Centre was named the first National Health and Medical Research Council Partnership Centre for Better Health and continues to work with the NHMRC, the Department of Health, Dementia Australia and three innovative industry partners, HammondCare, Helping Hand Aged Care and Brightwater Care Group.

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Dementia (2)


At the Royal North Shore Hospital Department of Dermatology Clinical and Translational Medicine Laboratory, we focus on three key areas including clinical trials, clinical projects and translational studies.

It can take more than 30 years from the discovery of a new medicine in the laboratory to the approved use of that compound with a patient in a clinic. It can then be another decade before that medicine is widely adopted by the medical community.

Our research team accelerates this entire process in three important ways. Firstly, by being actively involved in clinical trials, we can offer our patients immediate access to the latest and most advanced medicines.

Secondly, we conduct clinical studies to improve our understanding of the use of existing and new medicines, alongside projects to improve the early diagnosis and recognition of diseases.

And lastly, we perform laboratory experiments, with a focus on clinical observation and human tissues to better understand the causes of these conditions.

Ultimately, this means we are able to contribute to the discovery of new and targeted therapies for all dermatological conditions.

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The Northern Blood Research Centre is the research division of Royal North Shore Hospital’s Department of Haematology and Transfusion Medicine.

Our projects focus on improving patient care through a better understanding of clinical disorders. We run trials of new anti-cancer agents and immunotherapy to overcome drug resistance. We also examine cellular systems to model disease states.

Our group of clinicians, scientists and nurses run research programs in thrombosis and haemostasis, lymphoproliferative disorders, stem cell biology and transplant outcomes.

Our laboratory is an international reference centre for platelet disorders, and provides training for young clinicians and scientists establishing careers in haematology.

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The Institute of Bone and Joint Research was established in 1999, providing a dedicated institute to advance our understanding of musculoskeletal disorders and diseases, their diagnosis and treatments.

The organisation joined the Kolling Institute in 2006 to improve collaboration between researchers from different disciplines, and to advance bone and joint disease research on the campus. The Institute of Bone and Joint Research is a leader in the discovery, development and delivery of medical and surgical breakthroughs to ease the burden of bone and joint disease. Our epidemiological research aims to raise awareness of the impact of the disease and identify modifiable risk factors for prevention.

The research laboratories on the Royal North Shore Hospital campus are located in the state-of-the-art Kolling Building. Through our laboratory research, we are striving to find the cause and the cure for arthritis and other musculoskeletal and autoimmune conditions. The clinical and other research units are located, not only on the Royal North Shore and Northern Clinical School campus, but also at other teaching hospitals of the University of Sydney.

Through our translational and implementation programs, we are ensuring that the research evidence about new interventions and treatments is put into practice. Our ultimate goal is to improve the quality of life of all those suffering with painful and disabling musculoskeletal conditions.

Institute of Bone and Joint Research Centre Head - Professor Bill Walter

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Our group investigates the way neurogenetic disorders develop.

We focus on Mitochondrial diseases and movement disorders. We also provide diagnostic support for our large clinic for patients with mitochondrial diseases and movement disorders.

Our focus is to develop accurate methods of diagnosis and advance understanding of how genetic mutations cause neurological disease. Ultimately, we aim to translate the results of our research into improved clinical care for our patients with neurological disorders.

Defining an individual’s disease-causing mutations provides clinicians and patients with information for appropriate treatment and genetic counselling. We use next-generation sequencing methods to discover and identify new gene mutations in individuals who may have unusual disease symptoms.

Our specific goal is to identify key molecular pathways involved in the development of neurological diseases, with a particular focus on mitochondrial function. To understand an individual’s genetic mutation, we use various methods including molecular biological techniques, mitochondrial function assays, biomarker measurement and patient derived stem cells to create in vitro models of neurological disease.

Our clinical studies are aimed at determining the history of mitochondrial diseases, identifying factors that can predict disease progression and severity, and developing tools to monitor disease progression to enhance the performance of clinical trials.

Funding sources include the Mito Foundation, the National Health and Medical Research Council, HSP Research Foundation, Parkinson’s NSW, the Hughie Foundation and the Rebecca Cooper Medical Research Foundation.

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At the Pain Management Research Institute, our vision is to be a global leader in comprehensive pain management solutions. We strive to achieve this by undertaking cutting-edge research and delivering education and training to clinicians caring for people with chronic pain.

Since our inception in 1991, we have focused on patient advocacy and integrating our research and training with clinical services. Through this process, the latest research can inform future care.

The Pain Management Research Institute is part of the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Medicine and Health. It has academic and lab space within the Kolling Institute building, as well as facilities in the Douglas building at Royal North Shore Hospital.

From here, our clinical research is undertaken alongside the nationally and internationally-recognised pain education program. Patients with acute pain, cancer pain and chronic non-cancer pain receive treatment in collaboration with the Michael J Cousins’ Pain Management & Research Centre.

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Pregnancy & Reproduction

Women and Babies Research aims to inform, evaluate and improve health policy and service delivery for mothers and babies. Our overall goal is to ensure a healthy start to life.

Whilst every expectant parent looks forward to celebrating the birth of a healthy baby, some families are faced with pregnancy or newborn complications. We investigate factors linked to pregnancy problems such as preterm birth, stillbirth, fetal growth restriction, hypertension and diabetes in pregnancy.

We assess clinical interventions and models of care to determine the best course of action for those who experience difficulties during pregnancy or during the birthing process. This research is vital in understanding how pregnancy complications are best prevented and managed.

We also know that what happens before and during pregnancy and birth can influence the course of a newborn’s life and increase their risk of obesity, chronic disease and other long-term adverse outcomes. Research has shown that events in pregnancy and birth can also impact the longer-term outcomes of children, including their behaviour, academic performance and physical health. The goal of all our work is to ensure optimal health for mothers and their babies.

Women and Babies Research is a partnership between the University of Sydney and the Northern Sydney Local Health District based at Royal North Shore Hospital.

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Pregnancy & Reproduction


The John Walsh Centre for Rehabilitation Research focuses on research and education in rehabilitation and injury-related disability.

Our centre is part of the University of Sydney and the Kolling Institute, and our team has broad experience across a range of disciplines.

Our primary goals are to:

  • Generate new knowledge to improve health outcomes for people with injury related disability
  • Promote links with the research community, partner organisations, patient advocacy groups and non-government organisations, to support the effective transfer of research outcomes into health policy
  • Improve clinical care for people with injury-related disability and translate research outcomes into clinical practice.

The centre, which was formerly the Rehabilitation Studies Unit, receives major financial support from the NSW State Insurance Regulatory Authority and NSW icare Lifetime Care.

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The renal research team’s overarching goal is to improve the lives of patients with chronic kidney disease.

We are working to achieve this by:

  • Generating new knowledge about the cause of progressive kidney disease
  • Developing new diagnostic tests to predict those who will develop kidney failure
  • Discovering new medicines to prevent and treat kidney disease
  • Applying our discoveries to human clinical trials
  • Bringing new tests and therapies to market with our industry colleagues

We collaborate internationally, with pharmaceutical companies and smaller Australian biotech companies to transfer our research into clinical relevance. We are currently involved in many clinical trials investigating chronic kidney disease, dialysis and transplantation. In some cases, we are the international or national lead in these trials.

We have had continuous peer-reviewed research funding for the last 28 years from the National Health and Medical Research Council, Australian Research Council, JDRF - formerly the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Diabetes Australia, the University of Sydney and Royal North Shore Hospital through the Ramsay Research Fund. We are also grateful for generous donations and philanthropic support, especially from the EMORGO and MAST Foundations, the Hillcrest Trust and generous individuals. This funding not only supports our important research, but helps to train the next generation of researchers.

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Events, News and Seminars

New funding supports innovative approach to diagnose heart failure

New funding supports innovative approach to diagnose heart failure

Kolling researcher and Royal North Shore Hospital cardiologist Dr Rebecca Kozor will lead a world-fi..... Read more

Category: Funding support

Every week counts in the lead up to birth

Every week counts in the lead up to birth

The Kolling’s Women and Babies Research team is calling for a reduction in the number of early birth..... Read more

Category: Research Excellence

Cancer expertise recognised

Cancer expertise recognised

The Kolling’s Dr Amanda Hudson will lead an exciting pilot study after being awarded an innovation g..... Read more

Category: Funding support