07 October 2020In September, the Federal Government announced $5M in funding over five years for the Women’s Health Research, Translation and Impact Network (WHRTN) to address priority physical and mental health areas for women and girls and to support career advancement for women in health and medical research. The WHRTN is an Australian Health Research Alliance (AHRA) initiative and encourages collaboration across community, health services and academic institutions to advance research and translation in women’s health. This initiative aims to change the women’s health research landscape, ensuring research aligns with policy and community needs, is co-designed and delivers tangible health impact. Leading researchers in women’s health in Queensland The $5 million Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) funding will bring together researchers nationally to address major health issues affecting women. It will fund pilot work for national initiatives, connecting researchers and positioning them for funding opportunities in priority health areas. Representing Queensland on the national network with support from the Brisbane Diamantina Health Partners is Professor Vicki Clifton and Professor Gita Mishra. Both women lead research teams addressing gaps and priorities in women’s health. They are contributing their knowledge to the development of national initiatives via WHRTN. They also advocate for issues in women’s health in Queensland that can be addressed nationally and Queensland research that may be applied nationally. As one of their first activities, the researchers are planning a Queensland workshop to engage women’s health researchers and women in training. Professor Vicki Clifton is a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Senior Research Fellow and a Senior Research Fellow at Mater Research. She is a Program Leader of the Mothers, Babies and Women’s Health Research Theme and leader of the Pregnancy and Development research group. Professor Clifton is an internationally recognised expert in asthma and pregnancy research. She also has a specific interest in the sex-specific differences in the fetal-placental response to complications of pregnancy. Professor Gita Mishra is an NHMRC Principal Research Fellow based at the School of Public Health at the University of Queensland. She is internationally recognised for her expertise in women’s health and life course epidemiology, especially the links between reproductive characteristics and non-communicable diseases in later life, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. She is the Director of the Australian Longitudinal Study of Women’s Health (ALSWH). In addition to her ALSWH research, she leads the InterLACE project. This project is a major international collaborative research program on reproductive health and chronic disease. Developing future leaders in women’s health in Queensland The MRFF funding will also help to build health workforce capacity and develop leaders in women’s health. The most powerful tools in career development are mentorship and collaborative national and international networks, which give early to mid-career researchers opportunities for success. With the funding, the WHRTN team in Queensland will create networking opportunities for researchers in women’s health. By bringing this community together to build further collaborations and pursue funding together, the aim is to support the career development of women working in women’s health. The proposed Queensland workshop in early 2021 is the first opportunity for researchers to get formally involved in WHRTN. The national funding includes an emphasis on building capacity in women researchers across under-represented groups, diverse disciplines and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The latter group will also receive support through the integration of the WHRTN and the AHRA Indigenous Research Network. For more details about Queensland’s involvement in the WHRTN or to express your interest in attending the 2021 Queensland Workshop, please contact: website.
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