Congratulations to the following researchers for their success in receiving the 2019 UQ Early Career Grant:

NameProject TitleSummary
Dr Taylor Dick (SBMS)A step forward against ageing: novel wearable assistive devices to enhance mobility Mobility is one of the most important predictors of health in older age. The goal of the proposed project is to examine the effects of a wearable robotic device in older adults to assist movement of the ankle joint, namely an exoskeleton spring placed in parallel with the Achilles tendon and calf muscles. The device is expected to improve mobility and health outcomes, potentially paving the way for clinical treatment of mobility decline in older adults, using wearable assistive technology.
Dr Natasha Reid (CHRC)Co-designing, implementing and evaluating a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder practice framework with the Queensland Department of Youth Justice Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is a significant societal problem. Children with FASD and Indigenous children are over-represented in the youth justice system; however, there are currently no FASD services available. This project aims to co-design, implement and evaluate a culturally competent FASD practice framework in partnership with the Queensland Department of Youth Justice. This project will have significant impacts on health and sentencing outcomes for vulnerable young people.
Dr Cheneal Puljevic (CHSR)Promoting referrals to a free and evidence-based smoking cessation program among smokers released from smoke-free prisons in Queensland This study aims to investigate the most effective method of referring smokers released from smoke-free prisons to a free and evidence-based smoking cessation program. 74% of Australians entering smoke-free prisons are smokers, and nearly all resume smoking upon release. Queensland Health offer free nicotine patches and behavioural counselling for former prisoners, yet uptake of this service is negligible, representing a missed opportunity to improve the health of a marginalised population.
Dr Seth Cheetham (MRI-UQ)Are inhibitory pseudogenes key players in cancer?How cancer-promoting genes are controlled in healthy tissues is unclear. Many key cancer genes have mutated copies, called pseudogenes, which have been presumed to be functionless “junk”. By analysing gene activity in thousands of cancers and healthy tissues, we have identified hundreds of pseudogenes that may inhibit the function of the genes they are copies of. We will suppress and enhance the activity of pseudogenes to determine if they are novel players in cancer with therapeutic potential.
Dr Kylie Morphett (SPH)Understanding risk perceptions of emerging chemical contaminants Emerging chemicals of concern (ECCs) are becoming more prominent in public health literature and the media. Exposure to EECs may cause concern and anxiety amongst the public but little is known about Australians’ risk perceptions of EECs or how public health messages about EECs are understood. This research addresses this gap in the literature by conducting mixed methods interviews to identify lay beliefs about EECs that could undermine health communications about environmental risks.
Dr Katrina Ki (SOCM)Too much of a good thing? Understanding the adverse effect of high-dose oxygen management in extracorporeal membrane oxygenationOxygen therapy used during articial heart/lung machine (ECMO) support is necessary for the survival of the sickest patients. However, the harmful eect of current high-dose oxygen practice in ECMO is of concern and no guidelines are available. This study aimed to assess the eect of dierent oxygen levels on the immune system using a pre-clinical ECMO model. A better understanding of the immune mechanisms involved will help clinicians titrate the optimal oxygen level to reduce the risk of ECMO.
Dr Jamie Kutasovic (UQCCR)Alternative oestrogen receptor regulated transcription driving the metastatic colonisation of gynaecological organs This proposal will test the hypothesis that alternative oestrogen receptor regulated transcription is a specific mechanism driving breast cancer metastasis to gynaecological organs. This will lead to greater understanding around how the tumour cells evade therapy and colonise an oestrogen rich microenvironment. The data gathered in this project will be important for the management of young breast cancer patients, and form a unique dataset from which additional research questions can be examined.
Dr Samantha Stehbens (UQDI)How does melanoma sense the tumour environment?The human body is constantly affected by physical forces. Novel research has identified that cancer cells apply forces to spread to other parts of the body. To understand these forces experienced and exerted by cells, we need to investigate biology in environments that best mimic those observed in tissues where the cancer occurs and moves to. This project will improve our understanding of how physical cues are integrated into biological outcomes, opening novel avenues of therapies for cancer.