Connecting researchers with the community 

Monday 10 June 2024

Enabling researchers to kickstart their consumer engagement journey and bring community needs to the forefront of their research is a priority at Mater Research. This year, Mater Research has funded three research projects through The University of Queensland Faculty of Medicine Consumer and Community Involvement (CCI) Kickstart Funding Scheme.

Created to support Early-Mid Career Researchers (EMCRs) and Higher Degree by Research (HDR) students with costs associated with consumer engagement, funding was awarded to Dr Behnam Rashidieh, Dr Hayley Kimball and Dr Zhen (Jenny) Zeng. The funding will assist these researchers to initiate vital connections and expand existing relationships with patients with a lived experience of a health condition or their family, friends or carers.

Mater Research Director of Biomedical Research Professor Allison Petitt said consumer involvement is critical to research.

“It facilitates two-way discussions with consumers, fostering collaboration, relevancy and awareness to drive successful health outcomes,” Prof Petitt said. 

“Involving the community in research ensures important issues are heard, identified and prioritised.” 

“Congratulations to this year’s recipients!”


  • Dr Kimball is a clinician-researcher at Catherine’s House for Mothers, Babies and Families, whose project aims to develop a phone application to provide mental health support for parents with an infant in the neonatal critical care unit (NCCU) at Mater Mothers’ Hospital.

  • Dr Zeng is a biomedical researcher in the Smiling for Smiddy Cancer Cell Cycle Research Group, whose project aims to address the urgent need for novel treatments for high grade serous ovarian cancer. She is undertaking preclinical research to assess efficacy and immune response, with diverse models reflecting patient genetic backgrounds.

  • Dr Rashidieh is a biomedical researcher in the Tumour Biology and Therapeutics Research Group who also recently received $550,000 in funding from the National Breast Cancer Foundation for a three-year project that aims to target the cancer-associated protein (CEP55) in triple negative breast cancer using RNA therapeutics and lipid nanoparticles. 


Dr Rashidieh said that his project will investigate if RNA-targeting therapeutics, like those used for COVID-19 vaccine delivery can revolutionise the fight against metastatic triple-negative breast cancer (mTNBC).

“Our aim with this study is to develop and evaluate an innovative therapeutic approach for hard-to-treat metastatic breast cancer and pave the way for improved outcomes for patients,” Dr Rashidieh said.

“The budget for this project is solely scientific, so receiving this extra funding to assist me with consumer engagement is incredibly helpful.” 

Dr Rashidieh has already been working with two consumers with lived experience of breast cancer survivorship, and with this funding, plans to involve more consumers by initiating meetings with members of relevant charities and community groups.

“By doing this, I will be able to incorporate their feedback into the research process.” 


Get involved and make a difference to medical research 

Mater Research is building its network of heath consumers to continue to help shape the way we conduct research studies and clinical trials, like those led by Dr Kimball, Dr Zeng and Dr Rashidieh. Please complete the Health Consumer Network Expression of Interest Form if you would like to join the network.  

For further information, please contact Consumer Engagement Manager Farhana Matin via email: consumer.engagement@mater.uq.edu.au   

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