Food for thought – cooking up a storm for medical research

Aug 12 2011

Move over Masterchef … Research Australia is running a Cook for a Cure promotion throughout August that will give budding chefs in the Hunter Region a chance to make a lasting and life-changing difference.

Individuals, families, companies and community groups can raise funds for the medical cause of their choice simply by hosting a foodie event … anything from morning tea or a sausage sizzle to a sumptuous dinner party.

Research Australia has selected 15 projects to receive support from the national Cook for a Cure initiative, with the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) nominating asthma research.

This specific project aims to identify and validate a biomarker signature that will assist in differentiating asthma types and lead to personalised treatment.

University of Newcastle researchers Dr Katie Baines and Dr Jodie Simpson, along with Professor Peter Gibson from Hunter New England Health, have identified three types of asthma that have important differences in severity and the underlying pathways and cells responsible for asthma inflammation.

“Australia has one of the highest rates of asthma in the world, and is one of our national health priorities,” Dr Baines said.

“Not all asthma is the same, however we lack understanding about how to identify different types of asthma and how they work. Understanding and recognising the different types of asthma is important because it relates to how well people respond to treatment.

“We have used new genetic technology to identify three types of asthma that occur. We are now using this to search for markers of the different types of asthma.”

Putting money where their mouth is, HMRI researchers and staff donned aprons today (August 12) to cook snags for hungry workers at John Hunter Hospital. We were supported by Baker’s Delight stores at Waratah and Kotara, Adam’s Family Meats at New Lambton, and Tip Top Bakeries, Gateshead. 

The Cook for a Cure website –– allows hosts to sign up and register their event, make it a public or private occasion, then invite guests to attend.

Guests are able to donate online or at the event.

Australian culinary icon Maggie Beer, who helped launch Cook for a Cure, has provided some delicious recipes for hosts to use.

“So many people are affected by the serious illnesses Research Australia is seeking to cure. It only takes a close friend or family member being diagnosed for you to realise you want to be more involved, and find a way to make a difference,” Maggie said.

“In my mind gathering family and friends together to share a home-cooked meal has become an ingrained, first-line response to any hardship, and it makes sense to raise funds and awareness in a heartfelt way like Cook for a Cure.”

Dr Baines, Dr Simpson and Professor Gibson research in collaboration with the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) Viruses, Infections/Immunity, Vaccines and Asthma Research Program. HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.