Collaborative grants awarded after speed-networking

Two grants of $10,000 each were awarded to Dr Jemma Evans and Dr Nicole Kellow (SCS; Nutrition, Dietetics and Food); and Dr Courtney McDonald and Dr Shu Wen Wen (SCS; Centre for Inflammatory Diseases).

Organised by Hudson Institute and School of Clinical Sciences ECR committees, the initiative encourages early career researchers from across the MHTP to submit a collaborative grant idea, with each winning duo awarded $10,000.

At the event, early career researchers met for informal, one-on-one conversations to find common interests and unearth potential novel research ideas. The committee then reviewed the applications and announced the winners.

Dr Jemma Evans and Dr Nicole Kellow

Modulating menstrual-associated pain, gastrointestinal and emotional symptoms via dietary prebiotic intervention

The study aims to provide a simple way to reduce symptoms of pre-menstrual syndrome and improve quality of life for women, through use of dietary a supplement.

Up to 90 per cent of women experience detrimental symptoms in the lead-up to their period, including a change in mood and gut function. This can affect many areas of a woman’s life. As very few treatments are available for PMS symptoms, Dr Evans (a women’s health expert) and Dr Kellow (a dietitian and clinical trials expert) will test if a dietary supplement may reduce symptoms.

“We propose that the drop in hormones towards the end of the menstrual cycle may cause a change in the gut microbiome, contributing to the appearance of PMS symptoms, and that a dietary supplement aimed at supporting the gut microbiome may reduce symptoms,” Dr Evans said.

“We will study the gut microbiome across the menstrual cycle. Once we have established what is ‘normal’, we will test a dietary supplement to determine if it can support a ‘good’ gut microbiome and reduce symptoms. If successful, this could help millions of women worldwide live their best lives.”

Dr Courtney McDonald and Dr Shu Wen Wen

Exploring the efficacy of stem cell therapy in perinatal stroke

The study will test the theory that stem cell therapy may reduce neurological damage after perinatal stroke. For infants, perinatal stroke can result in lifelong health issues such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy, neurodevelopmental and behavioural disorders. Therapies are limited and focus on symptom relief.

The collaborative project will bring together the research expertise of Dr Wen Wen in stroke and Dr McDonald in stem cell therapies for perinatal brain injury.

“We see a need to develop novel therapies that reduce brain injury after perinatal stroke. We believe that stem cells can enhance brain repair and provide a novel therapeutic avenue to reduce both short and long-term impacts in infants,” Dr Wen Wen said.

What are the collaborative grants?

Held during MHTP Research Week, early career researchers from across our precinct have five minutes to discuss their research and possible collaborations. The researchers must be from different organisations or institutes.

Researchers who develop ideas submit expressions of interest after the event, with the top proposals selected to submit full grants. Following a review, the committee awards the two $10,000 grants.

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