Hospital grant scheme supports local health research with real-world impact

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Recipients of the 2023 SCHHS SERTF/Wishlist Collaborative Research Grant, Dr Rachael Nugent (left) and Dr Timothy Baird (right), with Sunshine Coast Health's Executive Director Medical Services Dr Marlene Pearce (centre).

Six Sunshine Coast Health health professionals have been awarded significant grants to carry out innovative research into health care issues impacting the local community.   

The projects include a women’s health study comparing new and traditional methods of inducing labour, research into improving diagnosis and treatment for serious lung diseases, the effect of exercise on gut biology and liver health, improving skin cancer detection using technology, and evaluating a model of care that supports young families. 

Staff across the health service were invited to apply for the grant scheme supported by the Study, Education, Research Training Fund (SERTF) and Wishlist.

Executive Director Medical Services Dr Marlene Pearce said she was pleased to announce the recipients and see local researchers supported to lead projects with a real-world impact and the potential to transform care. 

“These grants demonstrate the commitment from SERTF and Wishlist to support and develop excellence in research across different disciplines within the health service,” Dr Pearce said.

“The grants target early-stage and pilot work, as well as advanced research collaborations led by Sunshine Coast Health clinicians.”

The two largest amounts were awarded under the 2023 SCHHS SERTF/Wishlist Collaborative Research Grant, which provides funds over three years to support innovative collaborative research.

Dr Timothy Baird was awarded more than $292,000 to conduct research into the microbiome and management of an irreversible and progressive chronic lung disease called Bronchiectasis. His study is called the ‘THE BRONX STUDY: Using Meta-Omics to Advance Precision-Based Bronchiectasis Management’.

Dr Rachael Nugent was granted more than $299,000 to carry out research into evaluating labour induction methods, in her study called the ‘OPTIMISing induction of labour care: oral misoprostol versus balloon dilatation within a stratified inpatient to outpatient setting [The OptiMis-IO study]’.

Four others were awarded up to $50,000 each under the 2023 SCHHS SERTF/Wishlist Research Project Seed Grant scheme, which supports locally developed proof of concept research projects relevant to the local community.

  • Dr James O’Beirne (Gastroenterology and Hepatology). Awarded $44,157 to conduct the project ‘The effects of a combined exercise intervention on gut microbiomes and systemic inflammatory biomarkers in NAFLD patients’.
  • Dr Julia Bashford (Respiratory). Awarded $49,887 to conduct the project ‘Novel molecular diagnostics to improve the detection of fungal lung infection in immunocompromised patients.’
  • Dr Leith Banney (Dermatology). Awarded $48,099 to conduct the project ‘Vectra Skin Cancer Diagnosis Study.’
  • Laura Easterbrook (Women’s & Children’s Services). Awarded $49,911 to conduct the project ‘Evaluation of a novel Health Advisor role in supporting families with vulnerabilities in the first 1000 days (P1000)’.

Wishlist CEO Lisa Rowe said she was thrilled to announce Wishlist would direct $150,000 towards vital research projects to enhance local health services.

“Over the past several years, Wishlist – thanks to a generous community – has invested more than $2 million into research projects locally which has remarkably improved outcomes for patients and their families,” Ms Rowe said.

“We have supported Dr Leith Banney’s research around the topic of skin cancer since 2021 which involved Wishlist donations funding a pilot study into the treatment of early skin cancer. I’m pleased Dr Banney is continuing to make a significant in-roads in cancer research as she investigates new technologies and how they are reviewed by clinicians.

“Wishlist will also fund Dr Julia Bashford’s respiratory study of immunocompromised patients and Laura Easterbrook’s evaluation around an important project supporting children of families with vulnerabilities, in their first 1000 days."

Wishlist is actively fundraising for an additional $50,000 to ensure Dr Bashford's research project commence as soon as possible.