2 November 2023

Meet the four Western Australian child health researchers sharing almost $1 million in funding

| Travis Radford
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Dr Samantha Carlson.

Dr Samantha Carlson is one of four researchers to receive a fellowship, all of which are supported by the Telethon Kids Institute. Photo: Telethon Kids Institute.

Four Western Australian child health researchers have been awarded fellowships worth almost $1 million to study everything from children’s brain tumours to the airways of premature babies.

The fellowships are the first four of 20 in a three-year program worth more than $5 million aimed at keeping emerging local expertise in child health research and innovation in WA.

Of the four women to receive fellowships to develop their vision and approach to improving child health, three are based at the University of Western Australia (UWA) and one is based at Curtin University.

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  • Curtin University’s Denby Evans will study the airways of premature babies with declining lung function, opening the door to new treatments and improved lung health after preterm birth.
  • UWA’s Dr Hannah Thomas will work with Kimberley communities to identify, understand and action community-led skin health research, with the potential to reduce preventable diseases.
  • UWA’s Dr Brittany Dewdney will explore ways to remove children’s brain tumours, with the potential to change surgical approaches and lead to improved immunotherapy clinical trials.
  • UWA’s Dr Samantha Carlson will work with local stakeholders to design research and activities to protect families from preventable diseases by improving childhood vaccine uptake.

The fellowships will start next year and are intended to help the four women become better qualified, experienced and positioned to seek longer-term child health research funding.

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WA Medical Research Minister Stephen Dawson congratulated the four inaugural fellowship recipients.

“These new early career Fellowships … will make a significant difference to young lives here in Western Australia,” he said.

“A priority for the Cook Government is how we can utilise medical research and its outcomes to benefitting and supporting more Western Australians.”

The fellowship program is co-funded by the WA Government’s Future Health Research and Innovation Fund and the Brightspark Foundation, with an extra $2.1 million provided by research entities.

“This initiative is designed to identify local talent,” Minister Dawson said. “It will support and nurture fresh ideas and harness the passion and enthusiasm for the benefit of the child health research sector.

“We encourage and support medical researchers to base their careers here in the West and be a part of our fast-growing medical research hub that is attracting both national and international recognition.”

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