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Australian health initiatives to receive $2.5m boost

Australian health initiatives to receive $2.5m boost

Bupa Health Foundation announces winners of 2012 Health Awards

Advancements in long-term health issues such as skin cancer, autism, mental illness, sleep apnoea and macular degeneration may be closer following the announcement of the 2012 Bupa Health Foundation 2012 Health Awards.

One of the country’s leading charitable organisations dedicated to health, Bupa Health Foundation, will this year provide almost $2.5 million for a range of medical research and healthy living programs.

“Bupa Health Foundation invests in initiatives and partners that have the potential to make a real difference to improving Australian health and healthcare. This support means that great ideas are turned into real action,” said Dr Christine Bennett, Chair of the Bupa Health Foundation Steering Committee.

Over the past seven years, Bupa Health Foundation has invested around $19 million into health research and health programs across its key focus areas: wellbeing, managing chronic disease, healthy ageing, empowering people about their health; and promoting affordable healthcare.

Commenting on the work of the Foundation, Dr Paul Bates, Bupa Health Foundation spokesperson said: “We are very proud of our achievements in tackling major health challenges for Australians.”

“The ongoing commitment and achievements of Bupa Health Foundation demonstrate the vital role independent charitable organisations can play in developing forward thinking initiatives that will make a real difference to health and healthcare.

“While government funds a significant amount of health research each year, more and more researchers are turning to the Foundation to support their vital work. We’ve seen an 83 per cent increase in applications over the past 3 years, and are excited to be working with such high calibre partners,” Dr Bates said.

Bupa Health Foundation's investment is directed to partnerships that make a difference through translational research, educating the community in health or investing in health programs that impact on policy and practice.


2012 Health Award recipients

Inventor of the HPV vaccine for cervical cancer tackles skin cancer

Title: Infection and immunity in squamous skin cancer

Location: The University of Queensland Diamantina Institute

Professor Ian Frazer, the inventor of the cervical cancer vaccine and 2006 Australian of the Year, will examine skin cancers, their precursor lesions for genetic signatures of viruses, and protein signatures of specific immune responses, which might predispose patients to developing squamous skin cancer. Understanding and targeting these viruses could hold the key to developing preventions and cures for skin cancer sufferers.

If proven, this project has potential to influence development of a vaccine for skin cancer with very significant national and international health impacts.

Novel biologic treatment for autism in children being tested – a world first

Title: Investigating oxytocin to improve social difficulties in patients with autism

Location: Brain and Mind Research Institute, University of Sydney

This project will pilot the effectiveness of a novel biologic treatment for autism in children. Oxytocin nasal spray powerfully impacts a range of social cognition and social behaviour variables relevant to the diagnosis of autism.

If proven, this project will offer a practical option in behaviour management and significantly enhance the quality of life for children with autism and their families.

Teaching kids how to be brave now, to reduce mental illness later

Title: HOW TO BE BRAVE: program to prevent anxiety and depression

Location: Clinical Research Unit for Anxiety and Depression (CRUfAD) UNSW at St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney

Very recent evidence suggests that children who learn to overcome fears prior to adolescence have a reduced risk of developing anxiety and depressive disorders as adults. This program will develop, pilot and evaluate an online program to empower children in the identification and management of anxiety. . The program can be accessed by primary school children, their parents and teachers. The short-term success of the program will be evaluated in a randomised control trial.

If successful, the program has the potential to be rolled out nationally, providing an affordable healthcare delivery method.

Australian developed, world first laser technology could prevent Australia’s leading cause of blindness

Title: Nanosecond laser to prevent vision loss from age-related macular degeneration

Location: Centre for Eye Research Australia

This study will be the first in the world to demonstrate whether Australian developed nano second laser technology can be used to successfully slow, or even reverse, the progression of age related macular degeneration (AMD) in its early stages. AMD is the leading cause of vision loss in Australia and is increasing with an ageing population. While there are treatments available, there is no cure and there is usually a need for ongoing injections into the eye, which does not prevent eventual vision loss.

National approach to reducing impact of hip fractures

Title: A national approach to improving outcomes for people with a hip fracture

Location: Neuroscience Research Australia, University of New South Wales

There are approximately 17,000 new hip fractures in Australia each year. A hip fracture is a devastating event for an older person causing poor functional outcomes, loss of independence, impaired quality of life, and often results in entry into residential aged care facilities.

This project will develop national guidelines and quality standards for care of hip fracture patients and design a national hip fracture registry. This will monitor practice and standards of care with the ultimate goal of achieving maximal recovery for hip fracture sufferers and minimising the incidence of further falls and fragility fractures.

Study to examine maternal Vitamin D in pregnancy and childhood

Title: Maternal Vitamin D in pregnancy and childhood growth

Location: Deakin University

This project extends a study initiated in 2002 which demonstrated that maternal serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD) (Vitamin D) levels during late gestation was associated with infant long bone length at birth. The infants in this birth cohort turn nine between 2011 and 2013. This study will assess the group whose mothers had known Vitamin D status in pregnancy to detect changes and outcomes in bone health since birth, and inform public policy on Vitamin D during pregnancy.

Screening for under-recognised yet growing chronic health problem to improve

Title: Addressing the Growing Burden of Sleep Apnoea – A Screening Pathway

Location: Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute

This program will develop a more accessible and less costly pathway for screening for obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), which affects up to 24 per cent of men and 9 per cent women (nearly two million Australians). Undiagnosed OSA is a currently a major problem due to its lack of awareness among the community and health professionals, and limited screening access.

A more accessible and less costly pathway for screening is the first step towards addressing the heavy toll OSA has on community health. Health benefits include improved sleep, reduced daytime sleepiness, and better management (and possibly prevention) of type 2 diabetes, hypertension and heart failure.

Consumers to be better informed when it comes to health decisions

Title: Consumers and informed consent

Location: Consumers Health Forum of Australia

This project aims to empower consumers and provide them with resources which assist them make informed healthcare decisions. The project will review current evidence regarding informed consent and informed financial consent when receiving healthcare; consult with Australians about these issues and identify areas for improvement; scope existing resources and develop new resources to fill gaps; and work with health organisations to improve practice.

Total grants awarded: $2,494,252


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 $19 million, across its key focus areas: wellbeing, managing chronic disease, healthy ageing, empowering people about their health; and promoting affordable healthcare.

For media enquiries or further information please contact:
Fionnuala Maye | Porter Novelli | Ph: 02 8987 2100 or 0432 797 579 |

Matt Allison | Media and Corporate Communications Manager | Bupa | Ph: 03 9937 4624 | Mob: 0407 440 212 |

About Bupa As a leading healthcare business in Australia, Bupa’s purpose is to help Australians live longer, healthier, happier lives. 

Bupa proudly provides health insurance to more than three million Australians (previously under the well known health insurance brands MBF, HBA, and Mutual Community), as well as complementary healthcare services through Bupa Health Dialog, Peak Health Management and Blink Optical. Bupa Care Services is an aged care provider with 47 facilities around Australia.

 Bupa focuses on providing sustainable healthcare solutions that represent real value, and on leading the industry in the promotion of preventive health and wellness – helping customers better manage their health for the long-term. Bupa’s Australian businesses are part of the international Bupa Group, which cares for more than 30 million people in over 190 countries.