MEDIA RELEASE 20 November 2019
Top accolades, top minds at Research Australia’s Health and Medical Awards
Australia’s biggest hearts and brightest scientific minds have been recognized in Research Australia’s 17th Health and Medical Research Awards, with honours for scientists, doctors and extraordinary Australians who are working to bring life-changing breakthroughs to patients.
Researchers working to dramatically improve the lives of patients with cancer or HIV and make childbirth safer for mothers and babies were among those honoured, as well as the community champions and philanthropists who help bring their work to life.
Research Australia CEO Nadia Levin said the calibre of the finalists demonstrated the strength of Australia’s research sector, with remarkable work emerging from new areas of health and medical study.
“Almost every day, Australian researchers uncover new insights that can change the way we treat or prevent disease,” she said. “Through incredible dedication and skill, these amazing scientists are making an indelible mark on the journey of human progress, with tangible results for the health and wellbeing of us all.
“Australia has a vibrant and innovative health and medical research sector, well represented at last night’s Awards ceremony in Melbourne. We’re honoured to present this year’s winners as an inspiring mix of researchers, advocates and philanthropists who are making a global impact on healthcare and changing lives in the process.”
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt delivered the keynote speech at the Awards, with an address also given by Research Australia patron Sir Gustav Nossal AC CBE. Federal Opposition health spokesman Chris Bowen and Victorian parliamentary secretary for medical research Frank McGuire were among the VIPs presenting the Awards.
Professor Kathryn North AC was announced as winner of Research Australia’s flagship award, the prestigious Peter Wills Medal, recognising her outstanding leadership in genomic medicine which has helped drive Australia’s international reputation in this field.
Professor North – who is Director of the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute – is playing a key role in integrating genetic testing and diagnosis into standard healthcare, with the aim to shorten diagnosis times, enable early intervention, and provide access to treatment for people with genetic disorders. Through her own research, she has worked to identify new disease genes and improve diagnosis, setting the benchmark for ongoing research efforts.
Associate Professor Jeremy Micah Crook and team (University of Wollongong) were awarded the inaugural Frontiers Research Award for their work using electrical stimulation to produce advanced living human neural tissue, with potentially beneficial applications for patients with neurological disorders such as epilepsy, schizophrenia and Parkinson’s disease.
Dr Christine Keenan (Walter and Eliza Hall Institute) won the Griffith University Discovery Award for her epigenetics work which suggests an existing anti-cancer drug can ‘switch off’ and reverse the inflammation that causes asthma, potentially paving the way for the first targeted treatment addressing asthma’s root cause that would be easy for patients to take.
Pamela Galli graciously accepted the Great Australian Philanthropy Award, recognising the extraordinary generosity she has shown through The Lorenzo and Pamela Galli Medical Research Trust by supporting advances particularly in cancer and child health, helping generations of researchers and patients as a testament to her late husband Lorenzo.
Professor Gordon Lynch (University of Melbourne) won the Advocacy Award for his 18-year commitment to the ABC’s Overnights program, where he translates the latest scientific and medical research into clear messages that can transform people’s health, inspiring millions of Australians to engage with research and recognise the importance of lifestyle factors in better long-term health.
Professor John Lynch (University of Adelaide) won the Data Innovation Award – sponsored by Bupa Health Foundation – for developing the South Australian Early Childhood Data Project which has provided invaluable insight for policy makers and agencies seeking to give children the best start in life.
Professor Libby Roughead (University of South Australia) received the Health Services Research Award – sponsored by the Victorian Government – for her leadership in improving medicine use within our national health services to reduce the risk of patients suffering or potentially dying as a result of problems with their medicines.
The GSK Award for Research Excellence was presented to Professor Brendan Crabb AC (Burnet Institute) for his research into infectious diseases.
Ms Levin said the competition in each category had been fierce, with all nominees displaying tremendous talent in their respective fields.
“On behalf of Research Australia, I would like to thank all our nominees, nominators and members for helping make this night a celebration of the remarkable ability and innovative spirit within this sector,” she said.
“I would also like to thank the organisations who have supported the awards, including University of NSW Sydney, Bupa Health Foundation, Griffith University, GSK, Monash University and the Ingham Institute.”
Research Australia CEO Nadia Levin is available for interviews.
Media contact: Pia Akerman, 0412 346 746. A full list of winners follows.
2019 Research Australia Award Winners
Peter Wills Medal: Named in honour of Research Australia’s Deputy Chairman, Peter Wills AC, a great leader whose work led to the inception of Research Australia. The Peter Wills Medal is the flagship award and recognises someone who has made an outstanding, long-term contribution to building Australia’s international reputation in areas of health and medical research and fostering collaboration for better health.
Winner – Professor Katherine North AC (Murdoch Children’s Research Institute)
Great Australian Philanthropy Award: This Award profiles personal philanthropy that is outstanding in its generosity, effectiveness, vision, high impact and transformative quality. The Award recognises and encourages personal philanthropic donations over a period of time by an individual(s) or family to Australian health and medical research.
Winner – Mrs Pamela Galli (the Lorenzo and Pamela Galli Charitable Trust)
Health Services Research Award: This Award is for an individual or team who has provided leadership and made an outstanding contribution to health services research; driven research that has led to a significant improvement in healthcare; and/or has championed the development of the health services research field. Sponsored by the Victorian Government.
Winner – Professor Libby Roughead (University of South Australia)
Data Innovation Award: This Award recognises an individual or team whose innovation is considered to represent one of the most impactful new data innovations in the HMR sector within the past five years. Sponsored by Bupa Health Foundation.
Winner – Professor John Lynch (University of Adelaide)
Griffith University Discovery Award: This Award recognises an early career researcher (anytime from qualification but no more than 5 years past PhD whose paper/patent/discovery has already demonstrated its importance or impact.
Winner – Dr Christine Keenan (Walter and Eliza Hall Institute)
Advocacy Award: This Award recognises and congratulates exceptional contributions made by research champions who help raise community awareness and understanding about the importance of health and medical research.
Winner – Professor Gordon Lynch (University of Melbourne)
Frontiers Research Award: This Award recognises the success of innovative health and medical research that extends existing knowledge, boundaries and/or understandings within health and medical research.
Winner – Associate Professor Jeremy Micah Crook and team (University of Wollongong)
GSK Award for Research Excellence: One of the most prestigious awards available to Australian researchers, this prize has been awarded since 1980 to recognise outstanding achievements in medical research with potential importance to human health. This year’s Award is accompanied by a grant of $80,000 to further the winner’s research.
Winner – Professor Brendan Crabb AC (Burnet Institute)
Australians say health and medical research matters!
Australians’ opinions matter when it comes to our healthcare system and the research that underpins it.
The national peak body, Research Australia, has asked Australians for their opinions on health for the past 17 years and consistently they consistently tell us that research is crucial to better health and living our best lives.
The Minister for Health, the Hon. Greg Hunt launched the 2019 consumer poll Australia Speaks! at Parliament House yesterday to an audience of Research Australia’s Members along with government representatives, sector leaders and other health organisations.
The Minister said, ‘What is clear from this poll is that Australians value their own and government investments in health and medical research for delivering good health outcomes. Health and medical research is a key priority of the Government, that’s why we are investing $20 billion in the Medical Research Future Fund.’
“Health and medical research is about people so each year, with the generous help of Roy Morgan, we ask consumers for their opinions to enable us to reflect their values, and those of our Members, to ensure policy supports our health system.” says Nadia Levin, CEO of Research Australia.
“It is clear Australians see improving hospitals and healthcare as the number one spending priority for the Australian Government, even ahead of infrastructure, education standards and employment opportunities.
“Three quarters of Australians say they are interested in health and medical research. However, while confident in their ability to contribute to decision making about the future direction of the sector, most Australians don’t know how, and many don’t believe they’d be heard. Our governments and research organisations clearly have more work to do to meaningfully engage with the broader community.”
The results also confirmed that Australians are willing to embrace technology that can help them better manage their own health. They trust healthcare professionals to assist them with choosing those technologies and directing them to other credible online information sources. Professor Mary Foley, Managing Director Telstra Health and Research Australia Director shared her views around the impact of data in supporting improved health and what the future holds with the ongoing advances in technology.
The subject of ‘The empowered patient and consumer – managing our own health’ was discussed in a panel made up of sector leaders including the CEO of the Foundation for Alcohol Research & Education Michael Thorn, the CEO of Diabetes Australia, Greg Johnson and Jeppe Theisen, Vice President and General Manager Oceania, Novo Nordisk. Each discussed the importance of preventative medicine and what they are doing in this space to support Australians.
The poll also covered donations and government funding, and once again support for health and medical research is widespread. And at a time when we see the government partnering with the not for profit sector to support health and medical research, people indicated they would be more likely to donate a higher amount if the government would match their donation – a sentiment also reflected in previous polls.
Australians’ opinions continue to shape Research Australia’s strategies and priorities and observations of the changing trends and current attitudes will be shared widely to help shape policy and change to enable a healthier Australia.
Research Australia and Roy Morgan research are proud to release the results of the 2019 poll and further information is available by clicking here.
For more information please contact us on (02) 9295 8545 or email@example.com or follow us on Twitter on @ResAustralia
Research Australia has responded to the Australian Government’s latest Discussion Paper on the development of Data Sharing legislation. The legislation aims to improve the sharing of data by Australian Government departments and agencies.
Research Austrlaia’s submission has urged further consideration be given to how public benefit and commercial use are to be defined and how tests for these might be applied. It has also supported the approach to the accreditation of research institutions and individuals, and cautioned against ethics approval by an HREC becoming a default requirement for all data sharing applications.
Research Australia’s submission is available here.
The next stage will be the release of draft legislation for consultation, expected in early 2020.
MEDIA RELEASE 13 September 2019
Fighting superbugs smartly – Researcher recognised for her work in stopping sepsis
A doctor behind a program saving lives and cutting hospital stays across Victoria has been recognised by Australia’s peak research body for her work driving international leadership in antimicrobial stewardship.
Smarter use of antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines – drawing upon data showing when and how they are being prescribed – has been a key focus of Professor Karin Thursky’s career, with tangible benefits to patients shown in a major study released this week.
The study has shown the effectiveness of Better Care Victoria’s ‘Think Sepsis. Act Fast’ program, which was led by Professor Thursky, demonstrating it saved 52 lives and avoided 96 ICU admissions while in use at 11 Victorian health services over four months. Today is World Sepsis Day, bringing awareness to this critical health issue.
Professor Thursky, who is director of the National Centre for Antimicrobial Stewardship at the Doherty Institute, has now been selected as a finalist in the Health Services Research category of Research Australia’s Health and Medical Awards for her leadership and work that has led to a significant improvement in healthcare.
‘Think Sepsis. Act Fast’ is a clinical pathway which improves outcomes for patients with suspected sepsis through earlier identification and management. It aims to decrease the rate of inpatient sepsis-related mortality, decrease hospital length of stay for patients with sepsis, and decrease sepsis-related ICU admissions while also targeting clinicians’ use of antibiotic therapy to ensure timely and appropriate use.
The recent collaboration between Victorian health services demonstrated a six-fold return on investment with an $11.7 million saving based on reduced length of stay and reduction in costs.
There was a significant improvement in patient outcomes, with a 50 per cent decrease in mortality and 34 per cent decrease in ICU admissions.
Furthermore, the study showed a 28.8 per cent increase in appropriateness of initial antibiotic therapy, highlighting how Australian health care practitioners still have large gains to make in improving their use of antibiotics.
“We know our national appropriateness rate in hospitals (for antibiotic use) is around 73 per cent,” said Professor Thursky, who acted as clinical lead on the collaboration. “It means 1 in 4 prescriptions is still not appropriate, but we can dive deep into the data to find the areas we need to improve in.
“We’ve become international leaders in hospital stewardship. No one else collects the type of data we’re able to collect.”
Professor Thursky leads the National Antimicrobial Prescribing Survey (NAPS) which helps healthcare services assess their prescribing practice. Her team also plays a key role in implementing the National Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy, training doctors, pharmacists, nurses and other professionals for better use of antibiotics.
The clinical pathway for ‘Think Sepsis. Act Fast’ was originally developed at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, where Professor Thursky leads the implementation stream of the Centre of Research Excellence – National Centre for Infections in Cancer.
Research Australia CEO Nadia Levin said Professor Thursky’s work was making a significant impact nationally and internationally on how healthcare providers prescribe antimicrobials such as antibiotics, leading the fight against resistance.
“Professor Thursky has been a key contributor to the successful Guidance Group, based at Royal Melbourne Hospital, which developed software to actively improve clinical use of restricted antimicrobials,” she said.
“Guidance works to support stewardship programs by requiring the doctors to document why they are using antibiotics or restricted antimicrobials. That data is used on a day to day level by the stewardship teams who can undertake a review, encouraging more appropriate prescribing and better results for patients.”
The Guidance System is now used at 70 hospitals across Australia.
Research Australia’s Health and Medical Research Awards recognise the invaluable contributions made to Australian health and medical research, be it through ground-breaking research and discovery, ongoing advocacy or generous philanthropic donations that make innovation possible. The event is attended by some of the country’s most notable researchers, leaders from the Australian public service, key sector influencers and some of the younger researchers making global breakthroughs.
The winners will be announced at the official Awards ceremony on Thursday 14 November at Metropolis Ballroom in Southbank, Melbourne.
Professor Thursky is available for interviews.
Media contact: Pia Akerman, 0412 346 746
Research Australia welcomes the recent announcement by Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt that he will establish an Australian Preventive Health Strategy.
‘It is widely acknowledged that evidence-based preventive measures are typically the highest return investments that can be made to improve the health of our community. They include measures such as vaccination programs and consumer education and awareness campaigns’ said Research Australia CEO, Nadia Levin.
‘New prevention measures start with research, and research can refine and improve existing prevention measures. Research Australia will be advocating for a central role for research in the new Preventive Health Strategy.’
Research Australia has written to the Minister expressing support for the Strategy and emphasising the need for the health and medical research sector to be represented at the Roundtable being convened to advance development of the Strategy.
Research Australia’s recently hosted a conference themed, ‘Stronger Together’ which was sponsored by The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services. This event bought together health service organisations, philanthropists, state and federal government representatives, not-for-profits, medical research institutes, universities and other key stakeholders to talk about the power of collaboration in leveraging government funding for health and medical research.
Around 100 guests heard from industry leaders and sector influencers to better understand how working together can increase success in seeking funding. Research Australia also launched their report on ‘Non-Government funding for Victorian Health and Medical Research sharing the key outcomes to bring to light some of the challenges and opportunities in the sector. To view the report please click here.
The Hon. Jenny Mikakos, Minster for Health opened the event welcoming attendees and session included a fireside chat with Prof Graeme Samuel AC, a presentation from Harold Mitchel AC and a panel of Research Australia members sharing their learnings from specific collaborations included Prof Doug Hilton AO, WEHI, Prof Kathryn North AC, MCRI, Prof Ricky Johnstone, Peter Mac, Megan Donnell, San Filippo Children’s Foundation. The audience also had the unique opportunity to work in tailored groups to form real-time collaborations for funding.
Thank you to our sponsor, the Department of Health and Human Services, to all our wonderful speakers, facilitators and panellists and to the attendees for their participation in this event, we are delighted with the outcomes.
Should you wish to find out more please contact Sally Shepherd (02) 9295 8545 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Left: Stronger Together Conference Chair, Research Australia Director and Executive Leader Bupa Health Foundation, Associate Professor Annette Schmiede & Right: Frank McGuire MP, Parliamentary Secretary, Victorian Government
Left: Research Australia Chair, Chris Chapman, Middle: The Hon. Jenny Mikakos, Minister for Health, Right: Associate Professor Annette Schmiede
One of the collaborative working groups discussing a funding project over a working lunch.
After years of campaigning by Research Australia, the Australian Labor Party has committed to the full $20 billion capitalisation of the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) by 2020-21.
The MRFF is a once-in-a-generation plan to underwrite health and medical research, providing better health outcomes for all Australians; and a safer, better quality and more effective health system.
Research Australia CEO and Managing Director, Nadia Levin, said she was thrilled that the MRFF now has bipartisan support, with the fund to reach the full $20 billion by 2020-21.
“Let’s be clear – every dollar invested into medical research is a dollar invested into the health of all Australians, and the health of our economy,” Ms Levin said.
“This funding will make a tangible, measurable difference to the lives of Australians, from treatments for people touched by common killers, through to those with rare diseases.
“It is incredibly rewarding to see both sides of politics reflecting so closely the commitment we called for in our Pre-Election Statement<https://researchaustralia.org/pre-election-statement/> on behalf of the health and medical research community.
“We would like to express our gratitude to the Shadow Minister for Health and Medicare, Hon Catherine King MP for meeting with us recently in April to discuss the issue.
“At the end of the day, this funding will allow new medical discoveries and treatments to bring hope to Aussie patients.
“Research Australia recognises the significant scale of this win, which our membership has been calling for since we convened a Pre-Election summit in 2018.
“This bipartisan support is an important underwriting of a rapidly evolving area of research and healthcare, and will further strengthen Australia’s expertise and build upon our potential.
“The beneficiaries of the MRFF are universities, medical research institutes, not-for-profits and commercial medical research, and ultimately the Australian people and the economy.
“I challenge people to come up with a list more worthy of support.”
To find out more about Research Australia visit: www.researchaustralia.org<https://www.researchaustralia.org>
For more information please contact: Lauren Devlin 0449 041 214