A boost from WHRTN for Queensland early- to mid-career researchers

28 September 2023

Three female Queensland researchers recently received a boost to their career development with a 2023 AHRA Women’s Health Research Translation & Impact Network (WHRTN) award.

AHRA Chair and Health Translation Queensland Executive Director Professor John Prins said the award strengthens the career development of women working across the breadth of women’s health research.

“This year, the projects of Queensland researchers who have received AHRA awards span gynaecological health, mental health and maternal health,” Professor Prins said.

“The awards provide timely funding for women with flexible and diverse needs to engage, train, empower and connect with women in priority setting, research and translation.”

Dr Rosa Spence

Dr Rosa Spence is a Research Fellow at the Menzies Health Institute of Queensland, Griffith University.

Dr Spence’s research project, ID-Endo, aims to identify the contemporary challenges and unmet needs of women following a diagnosis of endometrial cancer.

“In association with the Australia New Zealand Gynaecological Oncology Group (ANZGOG)’s EDEN initiative, we seek to build a comprehensive understanding of the issues faced by endometrial cancer survivors,” Dr Spence said.

“This knowledge will inform shared decision-making regarding cancer treatment and support the development of targeted healthcare initiatives and services to assist a woman’s physical, emotional and psychosocial recovery.

"The 2023 WHRTN Award is supporting me to work with leaders in the field of endometrial cancer and to lead research that will make a meaningful difference to women living with and beyond cancer," Dr Spence said.

Dr Soumyalekshmi Nair

Dr Soumyalekshmi Nair is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Translational Extracellular Vesicles in Obstetrics and Gynae-Oncology group at The University of Queensland’s Centre for Clinical Research.

Dr Nair’s project aims to develop genomic biomarkers to predict the short and long-term outcomes of gestational diabetes.

“More than one in six women is diagnosed with gestational diabetes, and its impact extends far beyond pregnancy and childbirth,” Dr Nair said.

“Gestational diabetes affects the future metabolic health of mothers and their children.

“My goal is to develop genomic biomarkers encapsulated in extracellular vesicles to predict the short and long-term outcomes of gestational diabetes and, by doing so, disrupt the transgenerational cycle of diabetes.

“The 2023 WHRTN award provides me the opportunity to work collaboratively with internationally recognised research teams for the advancement of medical innovations addressing women’s health,” Dr Nair said.

Dr Tomomi McAuliffe

Dr Tomomi McAuliffe is a Lecturer in Occupational Therapy at The University of Queensland’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and the Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences.

Dr McAuliffe’s research aims to co-design a blueprint of a mental health service that will be embedded within a paediatric service for mothers of children with disability.

“Addressing mothers’ mental health is important because the implications of poor maternal mental health can go beyond themselves to that of their children,” Dr McAuliffe said.

“Commonly, mothers of children with disability experience challenges accessing appropriate support. With this project, I hope to co-design a plan for a mental health service that provides better access for these mothers.

“I am grateful for this award because, with it, I will be well positioned to apply for a larger grant in future.

“The award also allows me to collaborate with experienced researchers nationally and internationally. These collaborations provide an opportunity to link existing projects into a cohesive research program, strengthening my academic achievements and advancing my research portfolio,” Dr McAuliffe said.

For further information about the WHRTN awards, please see their website.

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