Meet Luke Churchill: 2023 PhD Scholarship Recipient
Researcher Stories

Meet Luke Churchill: 2023 PhD Scholarship Recipient

What is your research focusing on for your Doctor of Philosophy?

My research will investigate whether lung ultrasound can predict poor lung outcomes in high-risk adult patients undergoing open heart surgery and guide decisions for optimal oxygen delivery and breathing supports in intensive care.

Why is this area of research important?

While open heart surgery can provide several long-term benefits, post-operative pulmonary (lung) complications (PPCs) frequently occur following cardiac surgery. In fact, PPCs are a leading cause of ill health and death in these patients.

Up to 85% of lung complications occur within the first three days following major surgery, highlighting the need for early detection and treatment. However, there is currently no information available to help clinicians predict who is more likely to require extra breathing support when coming off a ventilator (breathing machine) after heart surgery. This can lead to delays in the commencement of appropriate breathing supports.

Incidences in patients undergoing open heart bypass surgery range from 5-90% and contribute significantly to increased time in hospital and ICU, and increased rates of disease and death. For patients with prior lung conditions, incidences of PPCs may be three to four times higher than in other patients. Therefore, identifying risk factors for developing PPCs and early diagnosis in the cardiac surgery population is vitally important.

How do you feel about the support from The Common Good and its community of donors?

The impact of The Common Good and its donors’ support is immeasurable. Our current healthcare practices have been derived and refined over time through research projects evaluating existing and emerging techniques. Research projects (or trials) involve a number of team members, each of which is essential for project completion. Many researchers, driven by a passion for improving patient outcomes, kindly devote portions of their own time to assist with research. However, by and large, research studies are only made possible through funding sources that provide wages and resources for the team members to successfully complete projects. As a full-time clinician, the research within my PhD and evaluation of patient outcomes simply would not be possible without the support of The Common Good and the generous donors who provide crucial non-clinical time to complete these studies.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not working on your research?

Aside from my physiotherapy role and full-time PhD, I perform regularly as a musician, playing at weddings, engagement parties, networking events and cocktail evenings. Having performed professionally from the age of 14, I am now lucky enough to follow both passions (music and healthcare). Outside of this, you’ll find me training, hiking or catching up with a brilliant group of friends.

Published: June 4, 2023

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