Around the universities

Cate Swannell
Med J Aust || doi: 10.5694/mja15.0907C4
Published online: 7 September 2015

Flinders University researcher Robyn Flook was named the Unsung Hero of South Australian Science at the state launch of National Science Week. Ms Flook has managed the South Australian Brain Bank since its inception in 1993. She is now battling cancer which has spread to her own brain. She began working at Flinders in Professor Bill Blessing’s Neurology Laboratory within the departments of Medicine and Human Physiology at Flinders in May 1989. In spite of her own challenges, Ms Flook said that she had much more to do and that there was still too much to learn at the SA Brain Bank for her to give up now.

Dr Janet Bray, a Monash University emergency care expert, has been recognised as Young Researcher of the Year by the Bethlehem Griffiths Research Foundation for her drive to improve outcomes for cardiovascular patients. The award also included a $5000 grant towards research-related travel. Dr Bray is a Senior Research Fellow within the Pre-hospital, Emergency and Trauma Unit of the Monash School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine. She was selected for her work in improving the outcomes for stroke and heart attack patients. For her doctoral thesis exploring factors related to prehospital delay in stroke, Dr Bray was awarded a National Heart Foundation Scholarship and received the Alfred Deakin Medal for Best Doctoral Thesis. She currently serves on a number of state and national committees and working groups, society conference committees and grant review boards.

The University of Melbourne’s Dr Peter De Cruz has been awarded the 2015 Victorian Premier’s Award for Health and Medical Research at a ceremony at Government House. Dr Cruz’s award recognises his research on optimising Crohn’s disease management and research into the cause of disease recurrence. Other medical researchers commended in this year’s awards include the University of Melbourne’s Dr Daniel Pellicci and Dr Lucille Rankin and Mr James Rickard from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research. The awards, now in their 21st year, celebrate the outstanding achievements of Victoria’s early-career health and medical researchers.

A multi-institute research team led by Laureate Professor Rob Sanson-Fisher from the University of Newcastle has been awarded $3.38 million in federal funding to improve dementia care and outcomes. The project titled “Australian Community of Practice in Research in Dementia” (ACcORD) will bring together an experienced multidisciplinary team over the next 5 years to improve the health and quality of life for people with dementia and their carers, according to Professor Sanson-Fisher, a behavioural health scientist. ACcORD will explore barriers to service delivery, evaluate the current legal impediments and look at implementing new measures for consistently assessing unmet needs. Clinicians, biostatisticians, health economists, legal experts and consumer representatives will take part, some of whom have previously worked outside the field.$3.3m-grant-to-improve-dementia-care-and-quality-of-life

New South Wales’s top honour for cancer research has been awarded to University of Newcastle researcher, Professor John Forbes AM, a pioneer in breast cancer research. Professor Forbes, founder of the Newcastle-based Australian and New Zealand Breast Cancer Trials Group (ANZBCTG), received the 2015 Premier’s Award for Outstanding Cancer Research. The breakthrough research revealed that tamoxifen could prevent half of new breast cancers and significantly reduce the rates of secondary cancer and the development of tumours in the other breast. Among his many career highlights, Professor Forbes chaired the Australian and New Zealand arm of the International Breast Cancer Intervention Study (IBIS I) clinical trial, which established that tamoxifen could be used for more than just successfully treating breast cancer — it could also be used in prevention of the disease.

University of New South Wales researchers received close to $13 million from the National Health and Medical Research Council for dementia research. UNSW Scientia Professor Henry Brodaty, Co-Director of the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing, will receive $6.5 million to conduct the largest dementia clinical trial in the world for people aged 55–75 years. The Maintain Your Brain trial, will recruit 18 000 people to test whether an internet coaching tool can reduce the risk of dementia. Half of the trial participants will be given information on managing dementia risk factors, while the rest will get extra support through online tools connecting them with medical specialists and tailored health interventions. UNSW Professor of Neuroscience Glenda Halliday has received $6.5 million to improve diagnostic detection of non-Alzheimer disease forms of dementia, which are commonly underrecognised or misdiagnosed. The research will focus on new detection methods and pilot novel treatments for frontotemporal dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies.

Two medical professionals are among six winners of the University of Queensland’s 2015 Alumni Awards. Professor Peter Donnelly, Director of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, and a Professor of Statistical Science at the University of Oxford, and Dr James Morton, AM, Medical Director of Haematology-Oncology Clinics of Australasia and Chairman and founder of the AEIOU Foundation, a non-profit organisation for children with autism, were presented with the Vice-Chancellor’s Alumni Excellence Awards.

  • Cate Swannell



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