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Q&A with Dr Brooklyn Fraser



Researcher Q&A


Q&A with Dr Brooklyn Fraser

Dr Brooklyn Fraser is a 2022 Heart Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Menzies Institute for Medical Research, University of Tasmania. Her research focuses on childhood physical fitness, with the aim to understand how this impacts heart health later in life.

What are you currently researching?

There is evidence to suggest that strategies to prevent poor heart health should start in childhood and target fitness – including both aerobic fitness and muscular fitness. However, before these strategies can be introduced, the long-term benefits of greater child fitness for heart health need to be established, and ways to maximise child fitness levels identified.

My research project addresses these knowledge gaps by looking at data from two different studies. One of these studies is the Childhood Determinants of Adult Health (CDAH) Study, which is an Australian based study that follows a group of people from childhood into adulthood, measuring fitness and heart health over time. The other study is the Physical Activity and Nutrition in Children (PANIC) study, which is an ongoing study that involves a physical activity and dietary intervention for children. By examining the data from these studies, I hope to provide new insight into how improving fitness in childhood can help to prevent heart disease later in life.

What difference will your research make to people’s cardiovascular health in Australia?

Through my fellowship, I hope to provide new insight into how fitness in children can help to protect heart health over their lifetime. By understanding how physical fitness in childhood benefits long term heart health, we may be able to identify the minimum amount of fitness needed to prevent heart disease. This will help to identify children with low fitness levels who may benefit from strategies to improve their fitness. This research also aims to identify the best combination of physical activity, sleep, and sedentary time to maximise child fitness levels. These findings could inform public health policy on physical activity guidelines to improve heart health. They may also help to direct new strategies that are aimed at increasing child fitness.

What motivated you to do your research?

I have always been motivated to make a positive impact on the lives of those around me. I am passionate about childhood health, and I want to help enable, motivate, and inspire children to lead healthy and fit lives that will support them into adulthood. My research aims to do this by developing a better understanding of how being a fit and active child contributes to long-term health.

Are there any achievements or discoveries from the past year you can share with us?

A key achievement over the past year was working with a group of fitness research experts to identify the top 10 international priorities for physical fitness research and surveillance among children and adolescents over the next decade. I am proud to begin addressing at least three of the top 10 identified research priorities as part of my fellowship. These include:

  • Conducting longitudinal studies to assess changes in fitness and associations with health
  • Developing universal health-related fitness cut-points
  • Investigating interventions to improve fitness

What role has Heart Foundation funding had in your career journey?

In 2015, I received an Honours scholarship that was co-funded by the Heart Foundation and the Menzies Institute for Medical Research. This scholarship helped kickstart my research journey and allowed my passion for childhood fitness to grow. I am very proud to receive a 2022 Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Heart Foundation. This fellowship provides me with a unique opportunity to build on the momentum I gained during my PhD and to promote child fitness in heart health and to showcase the importance of children leading healthy and fit lives heading into adulthood. This fellowship supports my development from an early-career researcher towards an independent future research leader.

Do you have a message for Heart Foundation supporters?

A big heartfelt thank you to the National Heart Foundation and its donors for supporting my research. I am grateful for the support and proud to continue working to improve the heart health of Australians. I look forward to sharing my findings with you all.

Last updated13 December 2023