About Our Research

East Metropolitan Health Service (EMHS) is proud to be a centre of excellence for medical research and evidence-based clinical practice. Through the legacy of Royal Perth Hospital (RPH), we have a long and distinguished history of research and innovation.

We actively encourage a culture of medical and scientific research throughout our hospitals and health services and believe that research into the causes, treatment and prevention of disease is fundamental to providing an exceptional standard of health care.

Our research aims to bridge the gap between laboratory and clinical practice and ultimately lead to more effective prevention programs, treatments and cures to improve the health of West Australians. EMHS works extensively with university and external research institute partners, as well as industry, to maximise the clinical-laboratory interface which is critical to the effective translation of research findings and promising clinical advances into routine practice.

EMHS is committed to:

  • Contributing to research that leads to the development of new treatments and therapies for our patients
  • Conducting both industry-driven and Investigator-initiated clinical trials of cutting edge pharmaceuticals and medical devices
  • Developing new and improved diagnostic tools and treatment pathways
  • Enhancing knowledge about the prevention of diseases affecting our communities

EMHS has a long-standing association with the Royal Perth Hospital Medical Research Foundation (MRF) (external link). The MRF is a major provider of research funding for EMHS, with a strong emphasis on supporting early career researchers. Its laboratory facilities on the RPH site also provide critical infrastructure for clinical research programs.

Research videos

EMHS has produced a video series highlighting the amazing work being done by our researchers:

History of research at EMHS

RPH, the oldest entity of EMHS, has a long history of research and innovation. In the late 1890s an engineer named William John Hancock, who was working with the Western Australia postal service, ordered an X-ray machine from London and arranged for its installation at the hospital. The X-ray (‘Roentgen tube’) had only recently been developed by Professor Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen in 1895, and the then Perth Public Hospital was the first in Australia to use this new technology. By 1905 the radiotherapy unit was treating 70 patients a year for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes.

Hancock started a legacy of research and innovation, according to G.C. Bolton and P. Joske in their History of Royal Perth Hospital (1982). Hancock was perhaps the most striking example of the new breed of scientifically trained young men who were beginning to challenge and upgrade acceptable professional standards in Western Australia.

In 1929 Dr Bruce Hunt was instrumental in setting up a diabetic clinic with an emphasis on providing dietary advice. Despite the belt-tightening years of the Depression, the expensive-to-run radiology department maintained its normal level of activity. In the 1930s, as typhoid and diptheria became less of a burden to public health, cancer emerged as the greatest health concern. In 1934 a mobile X-ray unit was obtained and a deep therapy unit four years later. “In this respect the clients of the Perth Hospital were probably on equal terms with patient at any hospital in Australia."

Some of RPH’s research achievements have gone into the annals of medical history worldwide.

Heliobacter pylori and stomach ulcers

In 1979 anatomical pathologist Dr Robin Warren described the heliobacter pylori and in the following years Dr Barry Marshall and colleagues conducted research that revealed the causal link between this bacterial infection and peptic ulcers. The work of Warren and Marshall earned them a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2005.

Virus particles in patients with HIV infection

Dr John Armstrong and Mr Robert Horne of the RPH Department of Anatomical Pathology were the first to demonstrate the presence of virus particles in patients with HIV infection using electron microscopy.

Perth community stroke study

This was the first longitudinal stroke survivor research project, conducted in 1989-1990.

Bone marrow transplant service

The first Domiciliary Bone Marrow Transplant Service was established at RPH in 1994.

Last Updated: 08/01/2024