BioMedVic VCRN Awards Celebrate Leaders in Clinical Research

The unsung heroes of Australian medical research were applauded loudly last Thursday, as BioMedVic held the 2016 VCRN Awards & Networking Event at the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

While research-active health professionals – doctors, nurses and allied health workers – are needed to translate basic biomedical research to the frontline of clinical practice, they face challenges. Heavy clinical workloads, lack of funding and a lack of institutional support for research activity make engaging in research more and more difficult for hospital-based researchers.

In 2010, Biomedical Research Victoria established the Victorian Clinician Researcher Network (VCRN) to provide a voice for this group, and to advocate for them and for change aimed at improving the capacity for clinicians to conduct research. To recognise and support some of those who have committed themselves to careers as clinician scientists, BioMedVic presents a series of annual awards.

One of the challenges facing clinician researchers is the access to mentorship, which inspired the criteria for the BioMedVic VCRN Career Recognition Award. Nominations are not only assessed on the nominee’s own record in clinical studies but their achievement in mentoring other clinician researchers. This year, BioMedVic was pleased to honour and present this award to Prof Leonard Harrison, a pioneer in type 1 diabetes research in Australia.

The award presentation was preceded by words from his nominator, Prof Ingrid Winship from Melbourne Health, who spoke about what inspired her nomination. Prof Tom Kay from the St Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research, one of Len Harrison’s former students, next recalled how Prof Harrison’s mentorship shaped his career as a clinician researcher and shared several anecdotes from the award recipient’s past.

While he was delighted to have his career recognised with this Award, Prof Harrison pointed out that he was anything but done. He also had a few words of advice to young clinician scientists – to not be scared, to find a mentor and to stick with research.

This guidance was well received by the attending BioMedVic VCRN Early Career Clinician Researcher Award recipients.

Special guest Kathleen Philip, Chief Allied Health Advisor of Victoria, presented the winners and commendees in the Medical and Allied Health Categories with certificates and prizes, and spoke about the bright future facing these promising researchers.

BioMedVic sincerely congratulates:

Dr Simon Joosten, Monash Health, Monash University – Winner Medical Category

Dr Jeanette Tamplin, Austin Health, University of Melbourne – Winner Allied Health Category

Dr Yet Hong Khor, Austin Health, University of Melbourne – Commendation Medical Category

Dr Alice Burnett, Royal Children’s Hospital, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute – Commendation Allied Health Category

Read about the outstanding work of these Victorian clinician scientists here. We look forward to celebrating many more such achievements in future years.