October 9, 2020

Inspired Researchers: Leading the way to the new normal

At the beginning of Research Week 2020, Professor Peter Brooks AM, Research Lead – Northern Health, said, “while new treatments and a potential vaccine will likely dominate headlines, it is the new ways of doing many of the things we have taken for granted that is already advancing health care, delivery and consumer-led experience.”

“It will be our inspired researchers who will lead the way on our journey to a ‘new normal’,” said Prof Brooks.

Over Research Week 2020, we have been treated to some fascinating guest speakers and presentations from Prof Sir John Savill, Prof Paul Glasziou, Prof Brian Oldenburg, Dr Dominika Kwasnicka, Dr Tilman Dingler and A/Prof Jo-Anne Nankervis.

Yet, just as impressive, are the research questions our own researchers are pursuing here at Northern Health that we got to hear about, albeit virtually.

In one of the best attended sessions – a virtual breakfast, Professor Don Campbell, Director of our Staying Well Program, and Dr Rebecca Jessup, Allied Health Research Lead, spoke of how they see ‘Patient care in the community: COVID-19 & beyond’.

We also heard our PhD candidates and Small Research Grant recipients, sponsored by Northern Health Foundation, speak about their studies; from the ‘effectiveness of Fitness Trackers in changing the physical activity of breast cancer survivors’ to ‘how do health consumers interpret and apply health information during a pandemic?’

Their studies emphasise the breadth of research-  from the quantitative to the qualitative – done at Northern Health.

In the last session for Research Week 2020 on Women’s and Children’s research, among the presenters were our own maternal fetal medicine specialist, A/Prof Lisa Hui, Dr David Tran, Clinical Director of Paediatrics and A/Prof Wei Qi Fan, head of our Neonatal Unit.

Their studies include monitoring the impact of lockdown restrictions on maternal and newborn outcomes in Melbourne, and how a lactation consultant-led telephone program could provide early and regular support for new mothers.

Clearly, the issues under discussion were topical, as three times the number attended Research Week as they did last year. They joined virtual presentations and workshops, viewed and voted for posters and quizzed the guest speakers online.

As in years past, the poster and oral presentations generated much interest, with The People’s Choice of Poster awarded to Simone Collins, Dr Paul Viray receiving the People’s Choice for Oral Presentations and Dr Rebecca Jessup awarded the Best Oral Presentation.

Ms Wanda Stelmach, Chief Medical Officer, featured above says, “I am proud of the research we are doing at Northern Health, as this ultimately contributes to better health outcomes for our northern community.”

As Prof Brooks says, “The future is unknown but by reviewing and evaluating what we do, and how we do it, we will have the opportunity to change things for the better, and to continue to deliver trusted care in partnership with our community.”

The Small Grants program plays a vital role in supporting staff to generate preliminary data which will allow them to apply for larger grants. The PhD Scholarships supports young graduates to be our future research leaders. Since the first Small Research Grant program in 2007, Northern Health Foundation has expended almost $400,000 and, with the PhD Scholarships program, has contributed over $1,100,000 to directly supporting research activities at Northern Health. 

The Northern Health Research Report 2020 is now available here. The annual research report is an opportunity to celebrate Northern Health’s research achievements and the hard work and dedication of our inspired researchers.