Meet the Winners of the Innovation and Impact Grants 2020

Meet the Winners of the Innovation and Impact Grants 2020

We’re thrilled to announce trailblazing researchers, Dr Alan Kop and Dr Andrew Ford, are the winners of the Foundation’s inaugural Innovation and Impact Grants.

RPH Research Foundation CEO Joce Young said the grants (valued at up to $200,000 per year for up to three years) will give these forward thinkers the freedom to investigate innovative ideas that could be game changers for healthcare providers and their patients.

“We look forward to enabling both Dr Kop, Dr Ford and their multi-disciplinary teams to translate their novel ideas into healthcare innovations that could make a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of our community,” she said.

Weaving 3D Magic on Wounds That Won't Heal

Picture this: You’re on a relaxing road trip, the scenery is serene. Then BANG! A car slams into you. You’re trapped and there’s an enormous, gaping wound in your leg.

Pictured: Lead Investigator Dr Alan Kop (centre) and his collaborators Dr Olufemi Oshin (left) and Dr Sudhakar Rao (right)

Now imagine you have a loved one who battles with diabetes. Their foot wound won’t heal, and amputation may be the only option.

These are just two of the many patient groups that Co-ordinating Principal Investigator Dr Alan Kop, along with his collaborators, Dr Sudhakar Rao and Dr Olufemi Oshin, and their team will try and help using a combination of 3D scanning, 3D printing and stem cell therapy.

“Complex wounds are an increasing worldwide health burden. They cause immense human suffering and can lead to amputation or death,” Dr Oshin said.

In Australia, it’s estimated that treating all wound types costs about $3 billion dollars each year and affects more than 400,000 people.

“Current treatment of complex wounds requires complex care and relies on the painful removal of dying tissue, surgical dressings, and antibiotics to prevent infection,” Dr Rao said.

“In most cases, multiple procedures are required to close the wound. This often includes further surgery using grafted tissue. All this can cause donor site pain and morbidity, rejection of the transplanted tissue and additional surgical wounds.”

Dr Kop said the team’s vision is to heal complex wounds and minimise the physical, physiological and societal impact that a slowly healing wound, a wound without enough viable tissue or a recalcitrant non-healing wound, has on a patient.

“The key aims are to facilitate tissue regeneration with a patient-specific, living tissue- engineered solution and accelerate the wound healing process to, ultimately, achieve scar-less, regenerative repair,” Dr Kop said.

“Our team’s innovation is threefold in that it’s founded on 3D scanning, 3D printing and stem cells. We are one of only a few groups in the world that have taken a tissue-engineered product to a patient clinical trial.”

Listen Up! Your Memory May Depend On It

Can hearing loss cause dementia?

Pictured: Lead Investigator Dr Andrew Ford

RPH Research Foundation is funding a world-first, randomised clinical trial to investigate if using hearing aids is an effective way to improve the cognitive functions of older adults and delay the onset of dementia symptoms.

Lead investigator Dr Andrew Ford said current data suggests hearing loss accounts for 9% of the modifiable risk factors of all cases of dementia.

“Rehabilitating hearing loss to support/maintain the brain function of older adults could be a viable intervention to delay the onset of dementia symptoms,” Dr Ford said.

Dementia is the leading cause of disability among Australians aged 65 years or older and the second leading cause of death.

Dr Ford, who is a consultant psychiatrist, specialising in older adult care, with the East Metropolitan Health Service and a senior lecturer in The University of Western Australia, said developing effective dementia prevention strategies has become a global health priority.

“Projections suggest that the total number of people living with dementia in Australia could reach 1.1 million by 2050, but this could be reduced by 13% (or about 143,000 people) if the onset of symptoms could be delayed by two years or more,” he said.

“Our vision is to understand whether hearing loss directly causes dementia and if correcting hearing impairment can reduce the rate of cognitive decline among older adults who are at risk of dementia.”

Dr Ford received his Innovation and Impact Grant from RPH Research Foundation to conduct a 24-month, randomised, controlled clinical trial to determine if the correction of hearing loss through the fitting of hearing aids decreases cognitive decline in those at risk. He will be conducting this research in collaboration with colleagues from Ear Science Institute Australia and the WA Centre for Health and Ageing.

The study will also explore the impact of hearing aids on anxiety, depression, physical health and quality of life.

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