Paediatric researchers in HCRF spotlight

Nov 1 2019

The Hunter Children’s Research Foundation (HCRF) has announced $115,000 in grant funding and acknowledged four of the region’s leading paediatric researchers during its 2019 Awards presentation, held last night at the HMRI Building.

In the Community Acknowledgement of Research Excellence section, world-leading nutritionist Professor Clare Collins from the University of Newcastle was named Research Mentor of the Year – sponsored by Newcastle Permanent.

Professor Collins, the 2017 HMRI Researcher of the Year, has supervised 28 PhD and three Masters students to completion. She currently supervises 12 PhD and one Masters student, while mentoring more than 20 researchers from a range of backgrounds at the University of Newcastle.

Dr Carmel Smart’s work on childhood diabetes was recognised with the Achievement in Research award, sponsored by JSA Group. As a senior diabetes dietitian and Hunter New England Health Clinical Research Fellow, Dr Smart’s leadership has significantly improved the quality of type 1 diabetes care.

She has led the development of clinical practice guidelines and is regularly invited as a plenary speaker at international and national conferences and symposia.

Dr Rowen Seckold, a clinical researcher at John Hunter Children’s Hospital and HMRI, received the Encouragement for Research Award supported by nib Health Funds. She is also focusing on clinical management challenges in type 1 diabetes.

The Achievement in Quality Improvement Award, sponsored by the Wests Group, went to Dr Joanne McIntosh, a neonatologist at John Hunter Children’s Hospital. Dr McIntosh helped to establish an infection prevention program focussed on fighting blood stream infections in newborns.

Of four HCRF grants announced, Dr Adam Collison received $40,000 for a study aiming to identify the food trigger for eosinophilic oesophagitis. The disease is associated with chronic heartburn, nausea, vomiting, dysphagia, and potentially permanent scarring of the oesophagus.

Dr Smart received $25,000 for a project titled “Counting the carbohydrate, fat and protein”, using an insulin dosing app to improve blood glucose levels for in children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes.

Grants of $25,000 also went to Dr Malcolm Starkey, who is looking at repurposing emerging immunotherapies to treat antibiotic resistant urinary tract infections in children, and Associate Professor Koert de Waal, who is investigating how blood flow patterns inside the cardiac chambers determine preterm heart development and future risk of heart failure.

In a special announcement, a HMRI Children’s Cancer Grant – supported by Hunter District Hunting Club, Rotary Club of Newcastle and David and Delmae Heise – was awarded to Dr Matt Dun. He is aiming to moving safe and well-tolerated therapies from the bench to the clinic for the treatment of childhood brain cancer.