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New members welcomed to the Jennie Thomas family

Apr 23 2018

New members of the Jennie Thomas family

A new generation of researchers have been welcomed with a warm Jennie Thomas hug with the recent awarding of the 2018 Jennie Thomas Funding.

A staggering seven researchers received funding in this round – from almost 80 applications. There will only be one round of applications and interviews this year, primarily because Professor Michael Nilsson will be leaving HMRI. “As Michael reads all the applications we felt we needed to make the most of his wonderful expertise to help in this process now,” Jennie said. “He knows the excellence of the people in the JT group and the type of young person who will not only be a good member of the team now, but also a leader in medical research in the future.”

Jennie also noted that the selected researchers represented a balanced variety of projects from across the HMRI spectrum of research. “As I get older, it makes sense to make the most of my time to mentor and walk with these people as they follow their dreams,” Jennie adds. “I love it, they all bring such joy to my life.”

Emlyn and Jennie Thomas Postgraduate Medical Research Scholarship

Alexandra Denham

A PhD Candidate within the HMRI Brain and Mental Health program, Alexandra is exploring ‘The unmet needs of carers of stroke survivors’. Around 50% of people who have a stroke require support from a carer. Their needs are complex and often change over time, but little research has been done to explore, recognise and understand the unique health and well-being needs of carers. Alexandra believes that this is an important area that requires more attention, and aims to develop helpful tools and resources to support carers and address their unmet needs.

Sean Hardy

A PhD candidate in the HMRI Cardiovascular Program, Sean is exploring ‘The novel role of extracellular matrix protein 1 (EMC1) in cardiac fibrosis'. Cardiovascular disease is a major burden on the health of communities worldwide. One of the major hallmarks of CVD is cardiac fibrosis, a thickening and stiffening of the heart muscle. Sean will explore the role that EMC1 may play in remodelling cardiac fibrosis.

Vrushali Chimanker

A PhD candidate in the HMRI VIVA Program, Vrushali is ‘Investigating the genetics of development of lung cancer’. Lung cancer is one of the most common, and still most deadly forms of cancer worldwide. Currently there are no accurate diagnostic tests to detect lung cancer at an earlier stage. This is due to poor understanding of the genetic mechanism underlying the development of lung cancer. Vrushali is seeking to identify the genetic alterations responsible for this, and to develop a diagnostic test using genetic biomarkers.


Jennie Thomas Medical Research Travel Grant

Lauren Poppi

A PhD candidate with the Brain and Mental Health program Lauren is investigating the impact of vestibular dysfunction (loss of balance) on people’s life and wellbeing. Lauren aims to explore the primary cause of these issues in order to lead to the development of new drugs and therapies to treat dizziness, vertigo, motion sickness and imbalance.

With this travel grant, Lauren will travel to five different USA-based universities to present her research and forge international collaborations.

Sarah Kennedy

A PhD candidate within the University of Newcastle’s Priority Research Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition, Sarah’s research is focused on the dissemination of the Resistance Training for Teens physical activity program throughout NSW secondary schools. Schools are an ideal setting to promote physical activity, however there is a need to better understand how school-based programs can be scaled up and disseminated to a degree necessary to influence population health. With the generous support of Jennie Thomas and the Hunter Medical Research Institute, Sarah will travel to the 2018 Annual Meeting of the International Society of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity in Hong Kong to present the findings of her PhD research. She will also attend the 2018 Conference on the Science of Dissemination and Implementation in Health to learn from and engage with leaders in this growing field. As part of her travel, Sarah will visit with leading ‘implementation science’ researchers in the US and Canada, with the aim of further developing her skills and to foster opportunities for international collaboration.

Kathryn Reilly

A PhD candidate in the Public Health program, Kathryn is working on a scalable policy implementation support program for a state-based school healthy eating policy. Kathryn will visit the US and Canada to expand her knowledge and skills and foster collaborations with leading researchers in the field. Kathryn will also attend Implementation Science training at the University of Washington.

On her return, Kathryn will attend the Global Evidence and Implementation Summit in Melbourne which is attended by experts from around the world. Kathryn will also be submitting abstracts for oral presentation at the Summit.

Dr Sarah Hiles

An early career researcher in the VIVA program at HMRI, Sarah is focussed on the health burden of severe asthma. Sarah has been involved in several projects which contribute to improving outcomes for people with severe asthma and other obstructive airway diseases to alleviate symptoms and enhance overall quality of life.

Sarah will travel to Europe for three collaboration-building activities in closely neighbouring countries; the Netherlands, Belgium and Paris, France. Visiting each of the three locations will help Sarah upskill and forge stronger collaborative research links.

Congratulations to all our successful recipients.