Harry Christian Giese AM MBE (1913-2000) played a key role in the establishment of the Menzies School of Health Research, chairing its founding committee and bringing together its stakeholders. Its early development was ‘a tribute to his vision, enthusiasm and advocacy’ wrote a Menzies colleague in 2000. ‘He vigorously pursued the School’s establishment and strongly supported its work.’ From the late 1970s to the 1990s Giese, a pioneer of health and education in the Territory, served on the Board and National Executive of the Menzies Foundation.

Dr Bianca Middleton  is the 2022 winner of the Research into Action Award. She will lead community stakeholders to adapt the Vaccine Barriers Assessment Tool (VBAT) to measure the causes of under-vaccination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children under five years. Immunisation is one of the most effective public health strategies for the prevention of childhood death and disease. Those living in remote and rural Australia continue to experience hesitancy and delays in vaccination, and so suffer a disproportionate burden of infectious diseases. These can be prevented by vaccine.

The VBAT tool will facilitate, for the first time, population-level views, evaluation and improvement of vaccination programs, at state and regional level. Its use by local clinicians and vaccine providers will improve levels of immunisation.

Past winners of the award are continuing with their work at Menzies.

2019 - Dr Nick Fancourt

Dr Fancourt is currently leading a  collaboration between the Menzies School of Health Research, Maluk Timor and the Paediatric Department and nutrition department at Hospital Nacional Guildo Valadares (HNGV) which aims to strengthen the referral and discharge processes for children diagnosed with Severe Acute Malnutrition between HNGV and Community Health Centres in Dili Municipality, Timor-Leste. Faced with some of the most severe child malnutrition in the world, they are working with local community health centres in Timor-Leste to improve continuity of care after discharge from hospital, and education for families.

2018 - Dr Kamala Ley-Thriemer

Dr Ley-Thriemer says that COVID has had a major impact on international programs, so most of the overseas activities of her teams were halted for almost all 2020-21. But they prepared for the re-start during that time, and have refocused operations using more online resources, generating a large range of online training materials. See Menzies Malaria-YouTube. They are also gaining increasing experience using digital platforms to train overseas collaborators. Because travel to study sites has not been possible, they have now moved to online monitoring, even for clinical trials. Most of the digital work has been focused on study staff and collaborators, but they are keen to expand this to patients and community members, and are exploring using digital resources to reach those most in need.

2017 – Dr Renae Kirkham

Dr Kirkham is co-leading a project to enhance models of care for Indigenous youth with Type 2 diabetes, their families and health professionals involved in the delivery of their care, across northern Australia. So far, the project has implemented new clinical guidelines and referral pathways, along with documenting increased prevalence of this kind of diabetes.

2016 – Associate Professor Jaqui Hughes

Associate Professor Hughes continues to lead programs for renal health, focusing on listening to, and incorporating, perspectives of Indigenous patients’ experience of chronic kidney disease. During 2021, her team designed and delivered an integrated COVID-safe dialysis patient transport service, and physiotherapy for adults after starting dialysis. Findings will be published in 2022.

2015 Professor Gail Garvey

Professor Garvey has taken up a post as Professor of Indigenous Health, Research School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Queensland. She is one of four research leaders of a project to establish a national network of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health researchers.

2014 – Associate Professor Matthew Grigg

Associate Professor Grigg is involved with three multi-disciplinary projects in zoonotic malaria, with an expanding team of three post-doctoral scientists and five PhD students. The first project, ZOOMAL, is evaluating zoonotic malaria and land use in Indonesia, with studies on improving diagnostic and surveillance tools in large human surveys, integrated with monkey, mosquito and geospatial risk mapping. The second project, on Plasmodium knowlesi genetic studies, is looking at how severe disease occurs in humans, through correlating the genetics of both parasites and humans, and then developing genetic tools to understand large geographical patterns of transmission. The third project, involving state-wide malaria surveillance in Malaysia, has recently received further five-year NIH, National Institute of Health funding to support public health programs in Sabah, to understand and control emerging zoonotic malaria.    

2013 – Dr Gabrielle McCallum

Dr McCallum continues to lead teams combating lung disease. Bronchiectasis is a major contributor to chronic respiratory disease and death, and action management plans have proved crucial to alleviating it. Between June 2018 and December 2021, a multi-centre randomised controlled trial, BAMP, was conducted for children up to 18 years old with bronchiectasis in the Northern Territory, Western Australia and Queensland. Menzies PhD student Kobi Schutz and Gabrielle report that the BAMP will now be published in an open access Tier 1 journal and across platforms; shared with medical and academic communities through conferences and education sessions for doctors, nurses and Aboriginal health workers; and incorporated into Websites and as part of international guidelines.