Wesley Dust Disease Research Centre

About Wesley Dust Disease Research Centre

welsey dust disease research centreWesley Dust Disease Research Centre is a centre for research into occupational lung diseases and is comprised of both research staff and clinicians. Ongoing research is investigating the resurgence of Coal Mine Dust Lung Disease (CMDLD) in Queensland. Based in the Wesley Hospital, Brisbane, clinicians and researchers identify and review positive cases of the disease to better understand its scope within Queensland.

About Coal Mine Dust Lung Disease

The Wesley Dust Disease Research Centre is studying Coal Mine Dust Lung Disease (CMDLD), the broad term for the spectrum of lung diseases caused by coal mine dust exposure. This includes:

The prevalence of CMDLD is not known in Australia, however in other industrialised nations such as the United States of America, it is as high as 10.8% in under- ground coal mine workers.

wesley dust disease research centreCMDLD is caused by cumulative inhalation of respirable coal mine dust, and can be characterised into two groups, dependent on whether nodules are present. Nodular diseases caused by dust are coal worker’s pneumoconiosis (CWP), silicosis and mixed dust pneumoconiosis (MDP).

In severe cases of this disease, the fibrotic nodules are joined together, leading to formation of a mass, termed progressive massive fibrosis (PMF). The formation of lung nodules is not the only mechanism of injury following dust exposure. Chronic dust exposure can also lead to lung destruction (emphysema), chronic airway inflammation (bronchitis) and dust-related diffuse fibrosis (DDF).

In the Australian context, CMDLD were believed to be near-eradicated in the 1980s. However, in 2015, the first case of coal workers pneumoconiosis in nearly 30 years was diagnosed. Further cases of CMDLD have been diagnosed since this time however no medical research has been conducted to date to understand the re-identification of CMDLD in Queensland.

Our Research

Coal Mine Dust Lung Disease (CMDLD) encompasses a spectrum of lung diseases caused by prolonged exposure to respirable coal mine dust and its particulates. CMDLD are under reported and one of its’ forms believed to be eradicated in Queensland for about 30 years until re-identification in 2015.

Active research conducted by our team is centred around creating a database to understand the number of CMDLD cases that are occurring and the impact CMDLD has had on a workers lung health. We also hope to identify any unifying occupational risk factors that may have lead to CMDLD. As a medically orientated research team we hope to contribute to improving screening, diagnosis and preventative management of CMDLD.

Our research goal is to identify and review the positive cases of CMDLD since its recent re-identification to gain a better understanding of the scope of this condition as well as identifying associated occupational and lifestyle factors. Following this initial review, we will develop tools for medical professionals to improve the screening process and health outcomes for the mine workers.

Our Investigators

The Wesley Dust Disease Research team includes experts in Radiology, Respiratory and Occupational medicine.

Dr. Katrina Newbigin – Principle Investigator

UCMI Specialist Thoracic Radiologist

Katrina is the Principle Investigator and lead Radiologist for the project. She was the first Australian to obtain B-reader certification, a qualification to diagnose occupational lung disease from radiographic imaging.

Professor Tim Driscoll

Occupational Epidemiologist

Tim is a collaborating, leading expert in occupational epidemiology from The University of Sydney. His research background is in occupational medicine specific to dust exposure.

Dr. Rhiannon McBean

Research Coordinator

Rhiannon is the Research Coordinator for Wesley Medical Imaging, and oversees all radiology including research projects with which they are involved.

Rex Parsons

Project Coordinator

Rex is the Research Assistant and Project Coordinator. With a background in neuroscience, he is the primary contact within the research team.

The Clinical Team

Dr Robert Edwards

Respiratory Physician

Bob is the lead Respiratory Physician. With extensive clinical experience with coal mine workers, he has seen, and diagnosed, many of these CMDLD positive cases.

Dr David Cleveland

Occupational Physician Registrar and General Practitioner

David, based in Mackay, QLD, works closely with miners and is a Nominated Medical Adviser. He brings a wealth of understanding regarding mining practices to the research project.

Further Reading


Contact Us

Wesley Dust Disease Research team
The Wesley Hospital, 30 Chasely St, Auchenflower
Tel: (07) 3721 1531

Or email us via the following Contact Form and we will respond shortly.