Can you mend a broken heart? Will wearing hearing aids prevent dementia? What’s the best way to treat diabetes? How can you help someone who is hospitalised after illicit drug use? Is it true we really are what we eat?
RPH Research Foundation’s new Career Advancement Fellowships program is providing more than $1 million in funding to help six of WA’s brightest researchers discover the answers to these important health questions.
RPH Research Foundation’s Board Chair, Professor Lyn Beazley AO, said the Career Advancement Fellowships were created to nurture talented early to mid-career researchers who are striving to make a real difference to the health and wellbeing of Western Australians.
“Successful applicants will be provided with salary support for up to three years so they can undertake cutting-edge research projects in their fields of expertise,” Professor Beazley said.
“Dementia prevention, diabetes, emergency medicine, nutrition as a form of preventative medicine and cardiovascular health are some of the research fields where the Foundation's investment will make a significant impact.”
In addition to encouraging rising stars within Perth’s world-leading medical research field to pursue trailblazing careers, this Fellowship program will enhance WA’s strong culture of innovation.
The Foundation was inundated with exceptional applications for the first funding round.
An independent panel of experts, including Prof John Olynyk (Edith Cowan University’s Dean of Clinical Research, Edith Cowan University, Theme Lead, Health Research) and Dr Gina Ravenscroft (from the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research’s Genome Biology and Genetics Program) generously provided their time to select the most outstanding applicants, whose work was showcased during a special Fellowships celebration at WA Museum Boola Bardip on 3 June 2021.
The highest-ranked applicant has been named the inaugural Emeritus Professor L.J Beilin AO Research Fellow in honour of RPH Research Foundation’s former Board Chairman, Emeritus Professor Lawrie Beilin.
“It’s our privilege to present a Career Advancement Fellowship in Emeritus Professor Beilin’s name to acknowledge his extraordinary contribution to medical research in WA,” Professor Beazley said.
“Emeritus Professor Lawrie Beilin is my immediate predecessor as Chair of the Foundation. His research team at The University of Western Australia and Royal Perth Hospital has been responsible for major advances in understanding the role of diet and lifestyle in high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.”
The inaugural recipients of the Career Advancement Fellowships are:
Dr Catherine Bondonno, from Edith Cowan University’s Institute for Nutrition Research, has helped to clinically prove that eating an apple a day can keep the doctor away by improving your heart health and reducing your risk of heart disease. Furthermore, WA’s Pink Lady and Bravo varieties offer some of the biggest heart health bangs for your bite. Dr Bondonno is the inaugural Emeritus Professor L.J Beilin AO Fellow
Diabetes researcher, Dr Lakshini Herat, from the Dobney Hypertension Centre (a joint venture between RPH Research Foundation, Royal Perth Hospital and The University of Western Australia). Dr Herat is currently involved in a world-first research project that is exploring how novel glucose-lowering drugs may protect eye and kidney health in people living with diabetes.
Audiologist Dr Dona Jayakody, from Ear Science Institute Australia, who is part of a research team that discovered a link between hearing loss and dementia. Dr Jayakody now aims to determine if wearing hearing aids can prevent, or delay, the onset of dementia in Aboriginal older adults.
Cardiologist Dr Marcio Kiuchi, from the Dobney Hypertension Centre (a joint venture between RPH Research Foundation, Royal Perth Hospital and The University of Western Australia). Dr Kiuchi is seeking to better understand and treat broken heart syndrome, also known as Takotsubo cardiomyopathy – a sometimes mysterious condition that often appears after a significant emotional or physical stressor.
Emergency physician Dr David McCutcheon, from Royal Perth Hospital’s Centre for Clinical Research in Emergency Medicine. Dr McCutcheon is working with the Emerging Drugs Network of Australia (EDNA) to develop new ways of testing for illicit drugs (known as novel psychoactive substances) so that doctors are better equipped to treat patients who become seriously unwell after taking them.
Dr Marc Sim, from Edith Cowan University’s Institute for Nutrition Research, is creating diet and exercise programs to help our ageing population continue to live independently by reducing their falls risk. Did you know one Australian is hospitalised due to a fall every five minutes? Dr Sim says eating well and staying active can prevent this.