Dr Catherine Granger

2008 grant recipient

Catherine GrangerDr Catherine Granger graduated in 2005 from The University of Melbourne with a Bachelor of Physiotherapy (Honours) as Dux of the course. She began her work in the acute public hospital setting and soon began specialising in cardiorespiratory physiotherapy, in particular the areas of cardiothoracics and intensive care. Catherine completed her PhD (The University of Melbourne, 2013) in the area of physical activity and lung cancer. Her research areas included exercise for patient populations, with a special interest in the efficacy of exercise for cancer survivors. She now supervises a number of research higher degree students and clinicians working in these areas.

Catherine currently works at The University of Melbourne and Royal Melbourne Hospital. She is the Head of Physiotherapy Research and Chair of the Allied Health Quality Committee at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. She is also a lecturer within the Physiotherapy Department at The University of Melbourne. Catherine is a current NHMRC Translating Research Into Practice (TRIP) Fellow. Her TRIP projects are focused on implementing the physical activity guidelines for people with lung cancer.

Catherine volunteers widely throughout the profession. Some of these responsibilities include being a member of the PRF grant review committee, APA cardiorespiratory scientific conference organising committee and Victorian Clinician Research Network Advisory Board; as well as being an active peer reviewer for a number of research journals and funding bodies. She is also a regular host on 3RRR radio program Einstein A Go-Go (Sunday morning's 11am) communicating science news to the public.


Research areas and findings

Catherine was fortunate to be awarded a $5000 grant (Jill Nosworthy Bequest, Cardiorespiratory Physiotherapy Australia) from the PRF in July 2008. The project 'Exercise rehabilitation for patients following surgery for lung cancer: a pilot randomised controlled trial' was conducted by a team of clinicians and researchers based at The University of Melbourne and Austin Hospital. The team included Dr Granger (a full time clinician at the time and brand new to research) as well as her mentors who were experienced physiotherapist researchers Professor Linda Denehy (The University of Melbourne) and Associate Professor Sue Berney (Austin Hospital).

Achievements with grant money

In 2008, when Catherine and her team designed and commenced the study, exercise rehabilitation for people with lung cancer was novel, important, been infrequently researched and was not part of standard physiotherapy care. The study was one of the very first pilot RCTs to be conducted in this area worldwide and was the first Australian study of its kind. This research area has grown exponentially and now there are over 20 published studies including eight RCTs in this area.


Research impact on physiotherapy

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death worldwide. Less than 15% of individuals with lung cancer are alive five years after diagnosis. In comparison to other cancer types, lung cancer is associated with a higher disease burden, more physical hardship and significant unmet needs. Catherine and her teams PRF-funded research (pilot work) demonstrated exercise is safe, feasible and well tolerated for the post-operative lung cancer population. Further large RCTs have since shown, importantly, that exercise is efficacious for this population as well. 

Important areas for development in physiotherapy

Catherine believes the challenge for the physiotherapy profession for the next five years is to now translate this evidence base into routine clinical practice. In 2015 exercise rehabilitation is still not standard care for people with lung cancer in most places in the world.