Photo credit: Harn Jian Teh
Associate Professor Julian Elliott is taking research beyond the clinic with ‘citizen science’ and subsequently scoops this year’s Commonwealth Health Minister’s Award for Excellence in Health and Medical Research.
Presented at the Medical Research Week Dinner hosted by the Australian Society for Medical Research in Melbourne last night, this annual award recognises the top-ranked Career Development Fellowship (CDF) applicant through the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).
CDFs are highly competitive four-year fellowships and support outstanding early- to mid-career health and medical researchers. The Monash University and Cochrane Australia researcher joins an esteemed list of previous winners including Professor Robyn Ward, Professor Josephine Forbes, Professor Anton Peleg and 2016 winner Dr Joseph Powell. He also receives an additional $50,000 research grant on top of his CDF funding.
A/Professor Elliott and his team and collaborators will develop and test novel systems for finding and making sense all research data relevant to a particular health question. This includes online platforms, artificial intelligence and ‘citizen science’ in which the public contribute to the processing of research articles for inclusion into systematic reviews. With more than 5000 members, the ‘Cochrane Crowd’ platform has demonstrated that given appropriate training, members of the public can accurately classify scientific research papers. Such reviews often inform critical government funding and approval decisions.
‘Doing research is not enough. We also need to make sure the findings of research translate into action and improved health—but there is now so much research it is hard for anyone to make sense of this “data deluge”,’ said A/Professor Elliott.
‘As an HIV physician at the Alfred Hospital I know the challenges of delivering health care that is based on the best possible research evidence. Using new technologies and ways of collaborating we are working to make that easier. My previous research shows it is possible to use the power of motivated communities to speed up science and I hope to build on this through my Fellowship.’
The Commonwealth Health Minister’s Award was initiated in 2000, when it was awarded to Professor Doug Hilton. A/Professor Elliott’s application was the top-ranked application of 452 applicants, with 60 funded.
‘I’m incredibly honoured to receive this award given the extraordinary talent and experience of my fellow applicants. I hope the work arising from it will result in real improvements in the ways research can be translated into better health,’ A/Professor Elliott added.
NHMRC Acting Chief Executive Officer Tony Kingdon said A/Professor Elliott’s research achievements make him a highly worthy recipient of the award.
‘It is a privilege to honour the achievements of an exceptional researcher whose work is making a significant contribution to our understanding of how we can improve the speed and accuracy of translating research into practical outcomes. I congratulate Associate Professor Elliott on this award.’