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        • » Family Study of Ear Health and Metabolic Diseases in a WA Aboriginal Community

Family Study of Ear Health and Metabolic Diseases in a WA Aboriginal Community



This research project used genetics as a tool to understand more about disease in Aboriginal Australians. Funded by a 2009 National Health and Medical Research Council project grant, the study examined genetic susceptibility to otitis media in children, and genetic risk factors for metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, renal failure, and obesity in adults.

Built on a partnership between the Ngangganawili Aboriginal Health Service (NAHS) and the Telethon Kids Institute (formerly the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research), the study was underpinned by a memoranda of understanding between both parties, as well as with Karalundi Aboriginal Educational Community Inc., which is serviced clinically by NAHS.

Abstract adapted from the Telethon Kids Institute


Jenefer Blackwell
Project Leader
Telethon Kids Institute
100 Roberts Road
Subiaco WA 6008
PO Box 855
West Perth WA 6872
Ph: (08) 9489 7777
Fax: (08) 9489 7700

Related publications

Tang D, Anderson D, Francis RW, Syn G, Jamieson SE, Lassmann T, Blackwell JM (2016)

Reference genotype and exome data from an Australian Aboriginal population for health-based research.

Scientific Data; 3: 160023

Retrieved 12 April 2016 from

Anderson D, Cordell HJ, Fakiola M, Francis RW, Syn G, Scaman ES, Davis E, Miles SJ, McLeay T, Jamieson SE, Blackwell JM (2015)

First genome-wide association study in an Australian Aboriginal population provides insights into genetic risk factors for body mass index and type 2 diabetes.

PLOS ONE; 10(3): e0119333

Retrieved 11 March 2015 from

Kowal E, Anderson I (2012)

Genetic research in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities: continuing the conversation: discussion paper.

Melbourne: The Lowitja Institute

Kowal E, Pearson G, Peacock CS, Jamieson SE, Blackwell JM (2012)

Genetic research and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

Journal of Bioethical Inquiry; Accepted Article: 27 August 2012(

Retrieved 12 October 2012 from

Aiton S, Muntiljarra Band, Anderson R, Kefu TLK (2011)

The goanna and the journey of the genes [video].

: Telethon Institute for Child Health Research

This YouTube video aims to raise awareness among Aboriginal people about the risk factors for developing diabetes. It uses the animated story of four families of animals to highlight the effects of eating fast foods and drinking sugary drinks on the body, particularly the effects on the pancreas (produces the hormone insulin, which helps to control the amount of sugar in the blood).

The video explains how an unhealthy lifestyle can lead to the development of diabetes, which can lead to further health issues including blindness, heart disease, and kidney problems. In the video, it takes the visit of a goanna (an important symbol in Aboriginal culture) to help the animal families understand diabetes, the complications, and how to manage the complications. The video has a strong message about the importance of living a healthy lifestyle, which includes eating well, reducing the intake of sugary drinks and being involved in physical activities.

This video was created by the community of Wiluna in Western Australia as a collaboration between the Ngangganawili Aboriginal Health Service, Wiluna Remote Community School, the Wiluna Shire Council and Tjukurba Gallery, and the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research.

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet abstract


Last updated: 13 March 2018
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