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2015 James B Skatrud New Investigator Award Winner


Ching Li Chai-Coetzer,

Dr Chai-Coetzer graduated in Medicine from the University of Adelaide and completed her internship and specialist training in Respiratory Medicine at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, South Australia. In 2007, she joined the Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health at the Repatriation General Hospital and, under the supervision of Professor Doug McEvoy and Associate Professor Nick Antic, commenced specialist training in Sleep Medicine as well as PhD studies at Flinders University. In addition, she completed a Graduate Certificate in Public Health at the University of Adelaide in 2009. Dr Chai-Coetzer is currently employed as a Sleep and Respiratory Physician at the Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health and a Postdoctoral Early Career Research Fellow at Flinders University.

Dr Chai-Coetzer’s research work has focussed predominantly on the development and validation of ambulatory, community-based models of care for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) with the goal of improving equity of access to sleep services worldwide, as well as strategies to optimise treatment adherence in patients with sleep disorders. Her research work has included the development of the OSA50 Questionnaire, a simple, 4-item screening tool for the identification of patients in primary care who are at high risk of OSA. She subsequently demonstrated in a randomised controlled study that patient outcomes for an ambulatory model of care for OSA which utilised the skills of appropriately-trained primary care physicians and community-based nurses were not clinically inferior to usual care in a specialist sleep centre, the results of which were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in 2013. She believes that a community-based model of care for OSA would be of particular benefit to rural and remote regions as well as developing nations where the burden of disease is high yet access to sleep services are limited or absent. Her next goal is to conduct the first study to characterise the patterns of sleep and prevalence of sleep disorders in indigenous Australians and evaluate a primary care-based health service delivery model for the diagnosis and management of OSA in urban, rural and remote Aboriginal communities.

In recognition of her research accomplishments, she was awarded a Postdoctoral Health Professional Early Career Research Fellowship by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia for 2014-2017. She currently has key roles in at least 7 major research projects that are designed to enhance the reach of sleep services and/or the effectiveness of treatment for those suffering from OSA. She is extremely honoured to be the recipient of the 2015 James B Skatrud Award, and acknowledges the support of her mentors, research colleagues and family.