Bupa Health Foundation announces finalists for 2018 Emerging Health Researcher Award
Four early-career researchers have received national recognition for their innovative work and commitment to improving the health of Australians and the health system.
The group have been announced as finalists for the Bupa Health Foundation 2018 Emerging Health Researcher Award and will each receive a $5,000 prize to further their research careers. The award winner will be announced on Wednesday 5 December and will receive a further $20,000.
This is the seventh year of the award which aims to highlight the important contribution early career researchers make toward improving health and healthcare for Australians.
The finalists have been recognised for their research in the following areas:
Reducing hospital readmission and death after heart failure
Reducing obesity through nutrition guidelines and programs in childcare centres
Using technology to improve the physical and mental health of Australian adolescents
Identifying new therapies for colorectal cancer using the immune system
Annette Schmiede, Bupa Health Foundation Executive Leader, said the entrants for this year’s awards were quite diverse.
“The role of the Foundation is not only to support research through funding and partnerships, but also to develop the capabilities, skills and networks of researchers to improve the translation of their findings to have real impact on health and care,” said Ms Schmiede.
The Bupa Health Foundation Emerging Health Researcher Award recipient will be announced on 5 December 2018, at an evening event in Melbourne.
Bupa Health Foundation 2018 Emerging Health Researcher Award Finalists
Dr Katrina Champion, Centre of Research Excellence in Mental Health and Substance Use, NDARC, University of New South Wales
Nominator: Professor Maree Teesson, Director, NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Mental Health and Substance Use.
Research Area: Using technology to improve the physical and mental health of Australian adolescents
Dr Katrina Champion is currently working to reduce the risk of chronic disease in high school students by helping them to modify key lifestyle risk behaviours.
She has been working with a range of professionals and young people across Australia to develop a digital intervention that uses computers, smart phones and interactive cartoons to educate young people about six key risk behaviours that are associated with chronic disease. The big six risk behaviours are identified as: alcohol use, smoking, inactivity, poor sleep, poor diet and excessive recreational screen time.
Dr Champion will lead a trial to evaluate the Health4Life program among 8,000 Year 7 students across Australia to show if the intervention can improve both physical and mental health during adolescence and reduce risky behaviours before they become entrenched.
Dr Jennifer Huynh, Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute (ONJCRI)
Nominator: Professor Matthias Ernst, Scientific Director, ONJCRI
Research Area: Identifying new therapies for colorectal cancer using the immune system.
Dr Huynh has a keen interest in understanding how the immune system works and how cancer cells can evade detection by the immune response. She has discovered that a molecule produced in our bodies called IL-11 can drive the growth of tumours, by preventing the immune system from attacking and killing colorectal cancer cells.
Dr Huynh is currently actively working with clinicians, researchers and industry to develop and test drugs that can block IL-11 to deliver a new therapy for cancer patients.
With colorectal cancer being among the deadliest cancers, Dr Huynh’s work has the potential to have lasting impact on the survivorship of Australian’s suffering from colorectal cancer.
Dr Quan Huynh, Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute
Nominator: Professor Tom Marwick, Director, Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute
Research Area: Reducing hospital readmission and death after heart failure
Dr Quan Huynh has developed a risk assessment tool to predict patients who are at greater risk of readmission and death following heart failure. With this information cardiologists can target the appropriate interventions to those at high risk. This will not only improve prognosis for patients but will also reduce health care costs.
Dr Huynh has validated the tool with an Australia-wide sample of heart failure patients and his findings on the interventions are already being adopted into clinical practice. The next step for his research is to improve efficiency by integrating mobile technology into the care of heart failure patients after hospital discharge. This model of care also has promising potential to help solve the barriers of those living in rural or remote areas.
Dr Serene Yoong, University of Newcastle
Nominator: Associate Professor Luke Wolfenden, MHMRC Career Development Fellow, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle
Research Area: Reducing obesity through nutrition guidelines and programs in childcare centres
Dr Yoong’s background as a behavioural scientist and experienced dietician has led to her research to help prevent obesity in children by implementing effective nutrition guidelines and programs in childcare centres.
Dietary habits are established in early childhood and can persist into adulthood, so by educating the childcare centres and giving them the right tools, knowledge, resources and support, Dr Yoong aims to reduce the burden of obesity. Dr Yoong is actively applying her research by engaging with end-users to deliver effective and scalable strategies targeting an important population group.
In addition to the four finalists, four outstanding nominees have been recognised with Commendation Awards and will receive a $1,000 prize.
Dr Jing Jing Wang, Flinders University of South Australia
Dr Natalie Bradford, Queensland University of Technology
Dr Annmarie Hosie, University of Technology Sydney
Dr Bridget Kelly, School of Health and Society and Early Start, University of Wollongong
Previous Emerging Health Researcher Award winners:
2017 Dr Amanda McCullough, Bond University
2016 Associate Professor Gail Garvey, Menzies School of Health Research
2015 Dr Gabrielle McCallum, Menzies School of Health Research.
2014 Dr Greg Ebert, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research
2013 Dr Andy Hsu, Peter McCallum Cancer Centre
2012 Dr Priya Sumithran, University of Melbourne
More information on the Bupa Health Foundation and Emerging Researcher Awards
The Bupa Health Foundation is one of Australia’s leading corporate foundations dedicated to health. We are committed to improving the health of the Australian community and ensuring the sustainability of affordable healthcare through collaborative partnerships.
The Bupa Health Foundation was established in 2005 and has invested more than $30million to support over 120 projects in real health and care improvements.
The Emerging Health Researcher Awards is celebrating its sixth anniversary after being established in 2012.
For more information please visit www.bupa.com.au/foundation.