Associate Professor Julian Elliott from Cochrane Australia in the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Monash University has been awarded the prestigious Commonwealth Health Minister’s Award for Excellence in Health and Medical Research 2017 at a ceremony in Melbourne last night. The medal is bestowed annually to the top-ranked Career Development Fellowship applicant through the National Health and Medical Research Council.
A Career Development Fellowship (CDF) is a highly competitive, four-year fellowship that supports the most outstanding early- to mid-career health and medical researchers. The medal for best application comes with an additional $50,000 research grant to be used by Associate Professor Elliott on top of his CDF funding.
Associate Professor Elliott’s work focusses on novel systems for translating research into practical healthcare solutions that positively affect patient health and quality of life. He says,“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’. My team and our collaborators are developing and evaluating novel health data systems that make sense of health research and accelerate the translation of research into improved, evidence-based health care.”
Associate Professor Elliott’s work focusses on methods and systems to successfully gather, process and meta-analyse all research data relevant to a particular health question. This includes the development of ‘living’ systematic reviews – high quality summaries of research that are updated whenever new research is produced. These systems incorporate text mining, artificial intelligence, online software platforms, and ‘citizen science’.
For example, Covidence is a software platform that is used around the world to produce systematic reviews; and Cochrane Crowd is a citizen science platform with over 5,000 members. This platform has demonstrated that given appropriate training, members of the public can accurately identify scientific research papers that can be incorporated into systematic reviews. Such reviews often inform critical government funding and approval decisions.
“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. Associate Professor Elliott’s application was the top-ranked application of 452 applicants, of which 60 were funded. Monash University submitted 41 applications of which five were funded in total. Associate Professor Elliott says,“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.”
NHMRC General Manager Tony Kingdon said Associate 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.”
Associate Professor Elliott has over 90 publications including papers in leading scientific journals such as Nature, Lancet and PLOS Medicine. In the last five years he has been a chief investigator on 20 grants totalling over $8million.
Media contact: Julia Veitch (03) 9903 0026 / 0438 856 481
Associate Professor Elliott is available for comment
Mr Tony Kingdon is available for comment