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Improving lives for kids with cystic fibrosis

Tim Rosenow

Telethon Kids Institute and Princess Margaret Hospital Researcher

UWA graduate Tim Rosenow is working to make a difference in the lives of children.

The researcher sits between the Telethon Kids Institute and Princess Margaret Hospital, investigating ground-breaking lung imaging techniques to help improve the treatment of childhood respiratory disease. In his PhD he focused on cystic fibrosis (CF), the most common lethal genetic disease in Australia.

Working within the Australian Respiratory Early Surveillance Team for CF (AREST CF), Tim developed a method that uses computed tomography (CT) scans to measure the extent of lung damage in children with CF as young as one year old, when the disease is relatively mild. This method has enabled – for the first time – clinical trials to be performed with younger children living with CF, aimed at preventing rather than reversing lung damage.Tim always enjoyed science because of his desire to understand how and why things work the way they do and how they can be improved. After completing his bachelor’s degree in physics, Tim worked in universities, government departments and industry, before returning to UWA to obtain his graduate certificate in paediatric respiratory physiology, despite having no experience or training in the area. 

“UWA has enabled me to pursue my career with its flexibility. I lost track of how many courses I enrolled in before figuring out exactly what I wanted to do. UWA was very accommodating. Without this flexibility, I may not have been able to pursue the career that I now have, and love.”

Tim Rosenow

His research field of paediatric respiratory radiology now allows him to work in what he calls an extremely challenging and rewarding field.

“One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced was having a scientific opinion that was somewhat controversial within the medical field. I realised during my first international conference presentation that the majority of doctors and scientists did not believe lung CT scanning had any value in young kids with cystic fibrosis. Fortunately I had a lot of support from my PhD supervisor and as the result of our and others’ research, CT is now mostly accepted as an important tool to monitor lung disease in CF.”Tim says the most rewarding part of his career is hearing how grateful patients with CF and their families are. He hopes to use his research as a platform to improve public understanding and perception of medicine and science, and encourage people to consider science as a career. His long-term goal is to set up a paediatric clinical imaging research centre.

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