An introduction to APERF

Shan Bergin
By Dr. Shan Bergin
Chair, APERF
Dr Shan Bergin completed her Podiatry degree in 1991 at La Trobe University. From there, she worked almost exclusively in the area of the high-risk foot across acute, sub-acute and community health settings. In 2009, she was awarded a PhD in Health Services Research from Monash University and her thesis was on: 'Community-based models of care for management of diabetes-related foot complications: current and future models of care'. To this day, Dr Bergin is still very active in the research sector, and her current interests include the influence of psychosocial elements on outcomes for chronic disease; including diabetes-related foot disease. Dr Bergin also has a strong background in clinical education and quality and risk management and she is currently working as a lecturer in the discipline of Podiatry at La Trobe University, and part-time in the disability sector as a risk management investigator.


Over the coming months, we look forward to highlighting research-related issues that are relevant to the podiatry workforce, as well as keeping you up to date on the progress and impact of APERF funded research. However, for this first issue, we want to set some context around APERF.


What is APERF?

APERF was established in 1991 and exists to advance research into the causes, prevention, and treatment of foot problems. APERF is a charitable trust that is currently overseen by seven trustees, who are all experienced podiatrists and/or researchers.


What are some outcomes?

Australia has produced some of the world’s leaders in podiatric research, and APERF funding has been instrumental in nurturing the early careers of a number of these internationally acclaimed podiatrists. APERF has a vital role in supporting podiatry research that informs education, improves clinical care, and extends podiatry’s scope of practice, with the end result being research outcomes that have the greatest benefit to patients and the profession.


How is APERF funded?

APERF’s ongoing capacity to fund podiatric research relies heavily on the continued support and generous donations from the podiatry community, industry partners, medical suppliers and patients. With both the fundraising and research funding landscapes becoming increasingly competitive, financial sustainability is one of APERF’s greatest challenges.


Despite these funding challenges, APERF is committed to supporting an increase in the evidence base for podiatry; increasing the number of podiatrists who are research active and promoting collaboration and partnership. APERF is also committed to increasing the diversity of research funded and continues to look for opportunities to fund larger, more complex research studies.


The impact of APERF

Since 1991, APERF has supported 81 research projects and awarded $495,000 in research grants. Funded projects have examined the epidemiology of podiatric conditions, explored different elements of clinical practice, developed educational resources, and investigated issues affecting the podiatry workforce.


Though it is difficult to evaluate patient-related outcomes – due to the size of both awarded grants and the resultant studies – APERF funded research has:


  • Provided career development opportunities for podiatrists
  • Supported clinical and academic podiatrists to move into senior leadership roles
  • Resulted in changes to clinical guidelines, and;
  • Promoted collaboration between organisations, health professions and individuals.


As a national program, APERF has awarded research funds across five of the seven states, with the majority of funds distributed to podiatrists in NSW, Victoria and Queensland. Organisationally, La Trobe University and Queensland University of Technology are the most predominant funding recipients, followed by Western Sydney University and the University of Sydney. Health care organisations are also represented with Royal Perth Hospital, The Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Alfred Health, Monash Health and Peninsula Health all past recipients of APERF funding.


For more information

For more information about APERF please visit our website.