CRF and HDA 2020 PhD Excellence Award Winners Announced

The Channel 7 Children’s Research Foundation (CRF) joins Healthy Development Adelaide in congratulating Leanne Winner and Susan Smith as the 9th Cohort 2020 recipients of the CRF PhD Excellence Award.

In a statement released today, Healthy Development Adelaide thanked CRF for its ongoing partnership in the PhD Excellence Award that now spans 13 years helping to build research excellence and career development in children’s health and development in South Australia.

Funded by the Foundation since 2008, the PhD Excellence program provides PhD top-up scholarships for South Australian-based scholars who are undertaking projects in the area of healthy development. The successful applicants will each receive $5,000 per annum for 3 years to augment their scholarships.

It’s also an inspiring platform for the Foundation to continue its 40+ years dedication to fostering early career researchers where grant funding is rarely available.

Here’s a summary of what Leanne and Susan will focus their PhD’s:

Leanne Winner is a PhD candidate within the Childhood Dementia Research Group in the College of Medicine and Public Health at Flinders University.

Leanne’s research project aims to identify proteins that track the progression of childhood-onset dementia (Sanfilippo syndrome) which can be used to predict disease trajectory in children diagnosed with the syndrome. Additionally, these proteins are likely to reveal symptom-generating functional pathways that may be targeted with novel treatment strategies; an area of strategic focus in the Childhood Dementia Research Group. Ultimately, Leanne hopes the families of Sanfilippo patients identified by newborn screening can be counselled as to the expected disease progression of their child, appropriate treatment can then be provided, and its efficacy measured biochemically.

About Sanfilippo and The Sanfilippo Children’s Foundation: Sanfilippo is a presently untreatable childhood-onset form of dementia. The Sanfilippo Children’s Foundation is dedicated to progressing clinical research into the effective treatment of Mucopolysaccharidosis III, also known as MPSIII or Sanfilippo Syndrome. Sanfilippo is a serious condition, delivering the most devastating outcome imaginable to patients of the disease and their families. But there is hope. There has been significant clinical progress in recent years making effective treatment within reach. Much of this progress has been due to the tireless efforts of foundations and biotech companies established by families and researchers with the specific objective to pioneer treatments, taking them from “bench to bed” within accelerated timeframes.

Through the HDA PhD Excellence Award program, the CRF is proud to be able to support Leanne with her research and it’s place within the Sanfilippo Children’s Foundation’s overall aims to provide early diagnosis and effective therapy for children with this devastating disorder.

Susan Smith is a Registered Nurse/Midwife and PhD candidate within the College of Nursing and Health Sciences at Flinders University. 

Susan’s research project will focus on increasing the uptake of antenatal influenza immunization in pregnancy and parenting. This in turn will ensure optimal health outcomes for both mothers and babies. Influenza acquired in pregnancy can result in prematurity, spontaneous abortion, birth anomalies and death of mother and baby. The influenza vaccine has been shown to be both safe and effective in protecting both pregnant women and infants up to six months of age. Ultimately Susan hopes to encourage a proactive role in immunization promotion and provision, moving towards independent practice in this area.

The Healthy Development Adelaide and Channel 7 Children’s Research Foundation PhD Excellence Award supports both domestic and international students who have newly commenced a PhD in the areas of Healthy Development.

Disciplines include (but are not restricted to) biochemistry, biomedical engineering, biostatistics, demography, dentistry, economics, education, endocrinology, epidemiology, ethics, genetics, indigenous health, law, nutrition, obstetrics and gynaecology, paediatrics, pharmacology, physiology, politics, psychiatry, psychology, public health and sociology.

Preference is given to projects with a multidisciplinary focus and that enhance more than one discipline within the research topic.

The Scholars are ‘enrolled’ in the HDA Research Training Program with mentoring, career development opportunities, and research training placements.

For full information on the Awards, including the application and eligibility criteria for 2021, please click here.

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