HMRI Announces Top Researchers

Nov 4 2010

The HMRI Award for Research Excellence, supported by the Sparke Helmore / NBN Television Triathlon, recognises the Hunter’s leading researcher.

This year’s recipient is Professor Paul Foster from the University of Newcastle.

“Professor Foster is highly deserving of this award. It acknowledges the significant contribution his research has made to the health of people affected by asthma, allergy and respiratory diseases”, HMRI Director, Professor Maree Gleeson said.

“Paul has established an outstanding research group since his arrival in Newcastle and is acknowledged for his mentoring of younger researchers.”

Professor Foster is internationally renowned for his research into respiratory disease and the translation of basic biomedical science into clinical research, leading to new therapeutics that will benefit not only the Hunter community, but communities around the world.

In addition to his role as Professor of Immunology in the School of Biomedical Sciences & Pharmacy at the University of Newcastle he jointly leads the HMRI Viruses, Infections / Immunity, Vaccines and Asthma (VIVA) Program. He is also a director of the University Priority Research Centre for Asthma and Respiratory Disease and director of the national Cooperative Research Centre for Asthma and Airways.
The HMRI Award for Early Career Research, sponsored by PULSE, supports a promising researcher in the early stage of their career.

This year’s recipient is Associate Professor Peter Greer from Calvary Mater Newcastle.

Associate Professor Greer’s research focuses on ensuring cancer patients receive optimal and improved radiation treatments. His research aims to deliver radiation doses more accurately to tumours without damage to the surrounding normal tissue. This research is increasing the understanding of how radiation dose can be accurately measured using imaging devices.

“Peter is an example of the young talent HMRI is nurturing through community support and in turn achieving better health outcomes,” Professor Gleeson said.

“His research will ultimately improve the targeting of treatments, reduce therapeutic uncertainties and result in significantly lower side-effects of treatment,” Professor Gleeson said.

Associate Professor Greer is a member of the HMRI Information Based Medicine Program at the Calvary Mater Newcastle and a Conjoint Associate Professor in the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the University of Newcastle.
The PULSE Education Prize supports early career researchers and research students to further their education by helping them to attend major international conferences where they can present their research.
Dr Kelly Avery-Kiejda

Kelly has been conducting research into the genetics of breast cancer and is a Post-doctoral Research Fellow in the HMRI Centre for Information Based Medicine Program.

Kelly’s research projects have included advancements in the knowledge of the genetic origins of breast cancer and melanoma.

Kelly has shown for the first time that normal breast tissue of women who carry the BRCA1 mutation express significantly less Progesterone response than non-carriers, which may be a contributing factor to predisposition to breast cancer. Her on-going investigation of genetic markers associated with breast cancer progression are likely to significantly contribute to the treatment and prevention of breast cancer, lessening its impact in the community.

The PULSE Education Prize will support Kelly’s attendance at the 2011 Keystone Symposia in Banff,Canada where she will present the findings of her breast cancer studies.

Dr Katherine Baines

Katie is the HMRI Xstrata Coal Asthma Research Fellow in the HMRI VIVA Research Program.

Katie’s research uses gene expression profiling to understand more about different types of asthma by investigating the activity of specific genes and proteins as biomarkers of asthma. Katie believes future improvements in asthma treatments will come from better understanding of the molecular mechanisms of the disease, and the ability to personalise treatment approaches to the individual’s genetic profile.

The PULSE Education Prize will enable Katie to attend the European Respiratory Society conference inAmsterdam in 2011. This will provide an opportunity for Katie to share her Post-doctoral research findings with over 10,000 scientists and colleagues and develop international collaborations in studies of asthma.

Dr Sylvie Lambert

Sylvie is a HMRI Post-doctoral Fellow with the Centre for Health Research & Psycho-oncology (CHeRP) in the Cancer Research Program in the Public Health Research Program.

At CHeRP, Sylvie is responsible for managing projects aimed at better understanding the substantial impact of a cancer diagnosis on patients and their partners, Sylvie is developing resources to optimise patients’ and partners’ adjustment to their illness. Her research focuses on the development and testing of an innovative, multi-media, self-directed coping skills program for individuals diagnosed with cancer and their partners, called Coping-Together.

The Coping-Together intervention aims to help patients diagnosed with cancer and their partners develop the coping skills they need to manage common cancer challenges post-diagnosis, including mental, social well-being, and quality of life issues and optimise adjustment to their illness.
The PULSE Education Prize will help Sylvie reach the 2011 IPOS Conference in Turkey where she will present an abstract on the Coping-Together Intervention.

Vanessa McDonald

Vanessa is a respiratory researcher with the HMRI VIVA program at John Hunter Hospital.

Vanessa’s research focuses on the characterisation and management of asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in older people.

Using a novel assessment method to describe the symptoms, pathology, psychological status, educational and self management needs a person centered approach is developed to address problems in older people with obstructive airways disease.  Vanessa has used this data to design and implement a clinical trial of Integrated Problem Based Management, the results of this research indicated that this model significantly improves health outcomes compared to current care protocols.

This represents a new approach to care of respiratory disease in older people.

The PULSE Education Prize will enable Vanessa to attend the European Respiratory Society Conference in Amsterdam in 2011. This will provide an opportunity for Vanessa to present her work to the largest group of internationally renowned researchers in respiratory medicine.

Dr Jane Maguire

Jane is a researcher with the HMRI Brain and Mental Health Program, specifically in the area of Stroke Genetics.

Jane’s research has been instrumental in forming the first Australian Stroke Genetics Collaboration (ASGC) in 2008 and the generation of a unique dataset of genetic, clinical and imaging data on individual patients. This has led to NHMRC funding in 2008 of an Australian genome wide association study of stroke, significant for being the first of its kind in an Australian cohort of stroke patients.

The PULSE Education Prize will allow Jane to attend the International Stroke Genetics Consortium inFlorida in 2011 and to present the findings of her most recent work. In addition Jane will be part of the HMRI Stroke Group who will invite the International Consortium to convene in Newcastle in 2012.