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Professor Chang is among Menzies' most-published authors, with a current tally of around 240 peer-reviewed papers. She is also a leading light in the organisation's push for research that triggers real change.
Professor Chang, head of Menzies' Child Health Division, diagnostically categorised a new condition, protracted bacterial bronchitis (PBB) in 2006. At the time, around 40 per cent of her child patients were presenting with a chronic cough that lasted more than four weeks. PBB was the culprit. Though painless, the persistent cough was impacting kids' sleep and wellbeing.
Chang, who spends 70 per cent of her time in clinical practice, worked with PhD candidate Dr Julie Marchant to probe the cough further. Together they discovered the condition indeed responded, and was cured, by a two-week course of antibiotics, amoxil-clavulanate. 'This was the most important contribution I've made so far, because it changed the management of cough around the world, it made it into the cough guidelines in the UK and the USA,' she says.
Damage-inducing cough is of particular concern among Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities as Chang says the symptom's been ‘normalised'. Many sufferers don't report it to medical staff. Alarmingly, however, cough is the most common sign of lung disease.
'It's always been my interest to use medicine to improve the lives and health of disadvantaged groups. Research lends you the freedom to think outside the box, look at different treatment options, and change the way things are done.' As she says, 'If you don't publish, you don't change things. That's how ideas are acknowledged.'
Source: Menzies School of Health Research