Recipient stories

Dr Marion Mateos

Dr Marion MateosPast RACP Kids Cancer Project Research Entry Scholarship recipient (2013-2016) Dr Marion Mateos undertook her PhD in clinical and genomic risk factors for treatment-related toxicity in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL).

The Scholarship allowed Marion to build key national and international collaborations in her PhD research and foster the development of clinical research skills, including wet lab techniques, statistical analysis and interpretation of genome-wide association study findings. Her work went on to feature in the Nature Reviews Cancer and The Lancet Oncology.

Currently, Marion is co-leading an international study in severe and symptomatic thromboembolism in paediatric ALL through the Ponte di Legno Toxicity Working Group. Her research interest is in personalised paediatric oncology medicine, focusing on clinical risk prediction algorithms and application to biomarker discovery in childhood brain tumours and toxicity prediction/minimisation in ALL.

Marion divides her time between the Kids Cancer Centre, Sydney Children’s Hospital as a paediatric oncologist and as a clinical research fellow in the Personalised Medicine Program at the Children’s Cancer Institute, Lowy Cancer Research Centre at UNSW.

Prior to this, Marion was based in the United Kingdom, where she completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship in paediatric neuro-oncology through the Northern Institute of Cancer Research and the Great North Children’s Hospital. She received competitive funding through the JGW Patterson Foundation to undertake biomarker research using RNA-sequencing data generated from a large cohort of children treated for medulloblastoma.

Overall, Marion has attracted more than AUD$900,000 in research funding since commencing her PhD, with her most recent award being a three-year Cancer Institute New South Wales Early Career Fellowship from 2019 to 2022.

Published July 2019.

Dr Atul Malhotra

Dr Atul Malhotra

Neonatologist Dr Atul Malhotra received the RACP Research Entry Scholarship in 2015 as he commenced his PhD in Basic Science.

“Moving from a full-time clinical consultant position to a part-time clinical role was a big step in my career and the Scholarship made the decision that much easier. Not only did it provide me with a cushion for the financial hit I was about to take, it also gave me the head start I needed for my academic CV in this highly competitive era in research funding,” he said.

Atul’s PhD research was in perinatal brain injury using a basic science model of growth restriction in fetal sheep. He studied some of the mechanisms involved in brain injury associated with fetal growth restriction, a condition which affects 5-8% newborn infants in Australia. His research work resulted in multiple collaborations with experts in the field of physiology, neurodevelopment, neuroprotection, neuro imaging and regenerative medicine. It also created other exciting opportunities for Atul, including involvement in the first-in human trial of stem cell therapy for another common disease of prematurity, chronic lung disease.

Presently, Atul is working on the next phase of this translational work in preventing chronic lung disease in newborns and will soon begin regenerative therapy trials for brain injury in newborns.

In addition to his scholarship, Atul was awarded the Eric Burnard Fellowship, a study grant to support his ground breaking work in educational simulation programs in maternal and neonatal health in low and middle-income countries. This work led to the establishment of the ONE-Sim (Obstetric and Neonatal Emergency Simulation) program, which successfully operates in several countries.

Atul is currently a consultant neonatologist at the Monash Children's Hospital, senior lecturer at the Department of Paediatrics in Monash University and research scientist at Hudson Institute of Medical Research.

“I will always be indebted to the Burnard Family, the RACP Foundation and Fellows for the generous support I received during the tenure of my Scholarship.”

Published March 2019.

Professor Rebekah Ahmed

Professor Rebekah Ahmed

Neurologist Professor Rebekah Ahmed's research career started with the 2014 RACP Fellows Research Entry Scholarship.

"This research entry scholarship allowed me to complete my PhD examining the effects of metabolic and eating changes in neurodegeneration," she said.

Following the completion of her PhD in 2016, she was awarded a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Early Career Fellowship, which helped her to continue her research work.

"In 2017, my research was further funded by the RACP through the award of the 2017 Vincent Fairfax Family Research Establishment Fellowship," Rebekah recalls. "My winning project was on the topic of 'Characterisation of eating behaviour and metabolic phenotypes across neurodegenerative diseases: insights for survival and progression'."

Rebekah is currently a clinician scientist and a consultant neurologist, senior lecturer and Director of the Memory and Cognition Clinic at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and the University of Sydney.

"The assistance that the RACP has provided to me has been invaluable and has allowed me to combine my research with clinical practice in a busy memory and cognition clinic. This involves the assessment and treatment of patients with dementia, particularly focusing on younger onset dementia aged < 65 years.

"I wish to thank the donors for their continued support of clinician scientists, as this support is essential to early-career researchers."

Published October 2017.

Professor Louise Baur

Professor Louise Baur

Professor Louise Baur was awarded the 1995 RACP Glaxo Fellowship in Medical Research.

At the time, Louise was working at the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children (now The Children’s Hospital at Westmead) and the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

She completed her winning project, 'Membrane Lipids, Muscle Morphology and Predisposition to Diabetes and Obesity in Infants', when she was two years into her post-doctoral training.

"This was a very welcome grant, together with funding from another granting body, because it enabled me to undertake a two-year study looking at muscle membrane fatty acid composition in infants undergoing elective surgery," she said.

"Our work showed that breastfed babies have a more 'insulin-sensitive' fatty acid composition in their muscle membranes which was associated with reduced stress hyperglycemia.

"We also showed that those mothers with hyperinsulinaemia were more likely to have babies with an insulin resistant muscle membrane profile. This work was important in highlighting the impact of infant feeding on metabolic health in babies."

After this study, Louise went on to complete a range of physiological, clinical, population health, and health services studies looking at insulin resistance and obesity in children and young people.

"These studies have influenced our understanding of these health problems in children and have led to changes in clinical practice and to population health interventions."

Louise is now Head of Child and Adolescent Health at the University of Sydney, Head of The Children’s Hospital at Westmead Clinical School, and a consultant paediatrician in Weight Management Services at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead.

"I am also a Founding Fellow, and Member of Council, of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences.

"The grant funding I received from the RACP during the critical early-career researcher and post-doctoral phase in my career was absolutely vital in enabling me to thrive as a physician researcher. Thank you!"

Published October 2017.

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