Mater Researchers awarded prestigious Queensland Health Fellowships

Thursday 04 July 2024

Two Mater Researchers who are leading clinical research projects that will create better health outcomes for Queenslanders have been recognised with prestigious Queensland Health Clinical Research Fellowships.

The two fellowships, worth $350,000, were created to support emerging clinician research leaders from publicly funded healthcare facilities in Queensland and assist with their career development.

Congratulations to Professor Phillip Good and Ms Aleysha Martin, who will use these fellowships to improve clinical practice for their patients. Read on to learn about their projects.

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Prof Good co-leads Mater Research’s Cancer Program and is Mater’s Director of Palliative and Supportive Care and Director of Cancer Services. He was awarded a Clinical Research fellowship worth $250,000 over three years for his project titled “Developing a Queensland palliative care research tele-trial program”.

Prof Good said people with advanced cancer experience a large range of distressing and difficult to manage symptoms.

“Access to trials of new medications, such as medicinal cannabis, to reduce symptom problems, has been limited in regional, rural and remote Queensland to date,” said Prof Good.

Prof Good said Mater had been studying medicinal cannabis in palliative care patients with advanced cancer since 2018, and currently leads a national collaborative research program funded by grants from the Medical Research Future Fund and National Health and Medical Research Council.

Three randomised placebo-controlled trials (RCTs) have been launched using medicinal cannabis products with differing formulations of the psychoactive ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and the element proposed to have anti-inflammatory effects, Cannabidiol (CBD).

“This fellowship will establish a Queensland palliative care research tele-trial platform that enables all Queenslanders irrespective of their geographical location, equitable access to clinical trials during palliative care.

Prof Good said research showed that patients with advanced cancer who had early access to palliative care experienced improved outcomes, specifically improved survival, wellbeing and symptom control.

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Ms Martin is a practicing occupational therapist at Mater Hospital Brisbane and is completing her PhD at Mater Research and The University of Queensland. She was awarded a Clinical Research Fellowship worth $100,000 over two years for her project titled “Transforming stroke care using a transdisciplinary stroke assessment: a multi-site study”.

Ms Martin began her PhD after seeing patients at Mater Hospital Brisbane’s acute stroke unit having duplicated and repeated stoke assessments completed by occupational therapy, physiotherapy, speech pathology and social work.

“This inspired me to change current practice to make stroke assessments simpler for everyone, streamlining the process and replacing these time-consuming assessments with a single transdisciplinary assessment to reduce the impact on patients,” Ms Martin said.

“Not only did it save time but meant that patients could be safely discharged sooner.”

Ms Martin said that it has been very rewarding seeing her work used in clinical practice and making a difference to patients. She plans to use this fellowship to make this transdisciplinary stroke assessment become best practice across Queensland.

“This fellowship will form the translation phase of this work. My aim is to implement the transdisciplinary stroke assessment in other acute stroke units, test if similar results are achieved, and understand what factors drive success.

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