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Next generation health research leaders recognised

Next generation health research leaders recognised

Bupa Health Foundation announces Emerging Health Researcher Award winner.

Australia’s most promising new health researcher is currently exploring how cancer cells trick the human body and grow without being detected.

Dr Andy Hsu was last night presented the Bupa Health Foundation Emerging Health Researcher Award at a ceremony in Melbourne, and said the Foundation’s grant of $25,000 would help him achieve his long-term ambition to be a clinician researcher.

Dr Hsu is originally from Brisbane but now lives in Melbourne, and has dedicated his early research years to exploring how our body’s own immune cells may be able to combat cancer cells.
“What we’ve been trying to do is essentially promote the body’s own natural immune cells: our own natural defence to combat cancer cells,” said Dr Hsu.

Bupa Health Foundation’s national awards celebrate innovation in research and the roles of the next generation of world-leading Australian researchers. Nominations were received from Australia’s top health research organisations, with supervisors recognising the outstanding work of their team and colleagues.

Dr Hsu said early motivation included being a student in Professor Ian Frazer’s lab when the cervical cancer vaccine was being developed.

“Seeing how a discovery can be translated into clinic has really inspired me to pursue my career in medical research,” he said.

Three other high calibre finalists – with research areas including long-term care for childhood cancer survivors, the process of programmed cell death, and improving hearing in loud environments – were awarded $5000 each. 

Bupa Health Foundation spokesperson, Dr Paul Bates, said these and other emerging researchers were making their marks in research that would contribute to helping Australians live longer, healthier, happier lives.

“We’re dedicated to making a real difference to the health of Australians, and we’re extremely pleased to be able to support the rising stars of health research in Australia,” said Dr Bates.

“They bring with them a zest for collaboration and fresh approaches to research, and we’re excited to see how their careers unfold.

“It’s fantastic to see that Australia’s world-class research community has played a big part in inspiring and fostering this emerging talent, which is evident in the high quality nominations we’ve received.”

The Bupa Health Foundation is one of the country’s leading private charitable organisations dedicated to health. Since its inception in 2005, the Foundation has invested approximately $22 million into health research and programs.

The Foundation is now inviting Expressions of Interest (EOI) from health services, research institutes, universities and other organisations for its 2014 Bupa Health Foundation Health Awards. The 2014 Health Awards are open from 31 October 2013 to 16 December 2013. The Bupa Health Foundation is listed on the Australian Competitive Grants Register. For more information or an application form, go to: www.bupa.com.au/foundation.

2013 Bupa Health Foundation Emerging Health Researcher Award finalists

Dr Andy Hsu – winner
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
Nominator: Leanne Warner
Area of research: Exploring how tumour cells interact with cells of the immune system which protect our body.

Dr Andy Hsu’s interests lie in identifying how cancer cells are able to trick the immune system and grow without being detected. He recently completed a research project into promoting the body’s own natural immune cells, as an alternative to using chemotherapeutic agents. It explored how tumour cells interact with cells of the immune system which protect our body. The project built on previous research led by Dr Hsu as an early career researcher at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, published in the prestigious journal Blood in 2011, with Dr Hsu as first author. The most significant discovery he’s made so far is identifying some of the receptors on the surface of cancer cells.

Dr Jordana McLoone
Kids Cancer Centre, Sydney Children’s Hospital
Nominator: A/Prof Richard Cohn
Area of research: Developing a model of care for the long term follow-up of childhood cancer survivors.

Dr McLoone is dedicated to improving patient care and health outcomes for Australian childhood cancer survivors. Her research is based on a new model of care that removes barriers to patients remaining in care. The improved model demonstrates an efficient use of health services, developing an effective, risk-based, transition pathway to improving health outcomes through follow-up care. The world-first study has strong support from all children’s hospitals across Australia and New Zealand.

Dr Jorge Mejia
Macquarie University, HEARing CRC
Nominator: A/Prof Robert Cowan
Area of research: Development of a novel approach to solving the complex problems of improving hearing in noisy environments.

Dr Mejia, an early career research engineer, developed active noise cancelling technology to improve the understanding of speech in noisy environments. Using a mathematical formula, Dr Mejia developed two small microphones which mount discreetly on hearing aids, allowing the person to “tune in” to sounds from the direction of the speaker, while “tuning out” noisy background sounds. People wearing hearing aids with this innovative technology will, for the first time, experience hearing of a better quality than those with normal hearing around them.

Dr Dana Westphal
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research
Nominator: Prof Doug Hilton
Area of research: A cellular program with great promise for improving cancer therapy.

Dr Westphal has worked in the apoptosis field for the past decade. Her research is based on understanding the molecular details of how the Bcl-2 family of proteins regulate cell death. By clarifying how viral protein highjacks the cellular apoptosis machinery to promote the survival of infected cells, Dr Westphal’s research illustrates valuable insight into how apoptosis functions and how viruses subvert it to their own benefit.

 

For media enquiries or further information please contact:

Lauren Coleman
Porter Novelli
Phone: 03 9289 9555 / 0413 254 545
lcoleman@porternovelli.com.au
Stella Tilkeridis
Bupa Australia
Phone: 0400 120 978
stella.tilkeridis@bupa.com.au

About Bupa Health Foundation
Bupa Health Foundation helps build a healthier Australian community through its support of important health research, health education and other healthy living programs. Established as a charitable foundation in 2005, the Bupa Health Foundation has partnered in over 80 initiatives nationally, with a combined investment of around $21 million, across its key focus areas: wellbeing, managing chronic disease, healthy ageing, empowering people about their health; and promoting affordable healthcare. www.bupa.com.au/foundation