2017 AMREP EMCR Best Paper Awards
Since 2015, the EMCR Committee has developed the EMCR Best Paper Awards to honour the outstanding early and mid-career researchers who have published in the area of Biomedical Research, Clinical Research, and Public Health. Thank you to all of you for submitting your papers to the 2017 AMREP EMCR Best Paper Awards. The competition was fierce this year and the judging very tight. All winners will receive $500 to support their research career. Congratulations to all winners.
AMREP EMCR Best Paper Awards category, eligibility criteria, sub-committee and application details are announced during March each year. Applications close in September.
2017 EMCR Best Paper Awards
Clinical Research Mid-Career Researcher
A/Prof Carol Hodgson (SPHPH)
Paper Title: A Binational Multicenter Pilot Feasibility Randomized Controlled Trial of Early Goal-Directed Mobilization in the ICU
Journal: Critical Care Medicine
Summary: Patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) traditionally receive bed rest as part of their care. They develop muscle weakness even after only a few days of mechanical ventilation that may prolong their time in ICU and in hospital, delay functional recovery and delay their return home and to work. Weakness may be avoided with simple strategies of early exercise in ICU. The aims of this pilot study were to test the hypothesis that early mobilisation may improve functional recovery in this patient group and gather pilot data to support a larger randomised trial across Australia and New Zealand. We successfully delivered early mobilisation in the intervention group at a higher dosage and for a longer time. Early mobilisation resulted in reduced days in ICU and in hospital. The results of this study support funding for a large trial that tests patient outcomes. Publication
Biomedical Research Early-Career Researcher
Dr Francine Marques (Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute)
Paper Title: High-Fiber Diet and Acetate Supplementation Change the Gut Microbiota and Prevent the Development of Hypertension and Heart Failure in Hypertensive Mice
Summary: We showed that a diet rich in fibre modifies the composition of the microbes in our gut, increasing the prevalence of communities that release substances called short-chain fatty acids such as acetate as a consequence of fibre fermentation. We demonstrated that fibre and acetate prevent the development of high blood pressure, heart failure and stiffening of the heart in a mouse model.
Our study also described the molecular modifications in both the heart and the kidney with dietary intake of fibre or supplementation with acetate, and was the first to propose a gut-cardiorenal-axis and show that it impacts on cardiovascular health. It received significant attention from the scientific community and the public, and was featured at the Sydney Morning Herald (http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/health-and-wellbeing/nutrition/is-more-fibre-a-recipe-for-better-blood-pressure-20161211-gt8ntu.html) as a consequence. We also recorded a podcast for Circulation due to the interest it has received (http://circulation.libsyn.com/podcast/circulation-march-7-2017-issue). Publication:
Biomedical Research Mid-Career Researcher
Dr Bianca Bernardo (Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute)
Paper Title: Sex differences in response to miRNA-34a therapy in mouse models of cardiac disease: Identification of sex-, disease- and treatment-regulated miRNAs
Journal: The Journal of Physiology
Summary: Drugs that stop the action of disease-causing tiny genes (called microRNAs) are in development for heart disease. However, limited information is available on the regulation of specific microRNAs in male and female hearts in settings of heart disease. The identification of sex-specific microRNA signatures has implications for translation into the clinic and suggests the need for customised therapy. I was the first to show that a microRNA-based treatment inhibiting microRNA-34a provided more cardiac protection in female mice with dilated cardiomyopathy compared to male mice, and that the degree of protection is dependent on disease severity. Using a high throughput approach, I was able to identify sex- and treatment-dependent regulation of microRNAs in the diseased heart. This may explain the differential response of males and females to microRNA drug therapy. The results highlight the importance of understanding the effect of microRNA-based therapies in heart disease settings in males and females. Publication
Public Health Research Early-Career Researcher
Dr Eric Chow (Melbourne Sexual Health Centre, Alfred Health)
Paper Title: Quadrivalent vaccine-targeted human papillomavirus genotypes in heterosexual men after the Australian female human papillomavirus vaccination programme: a retrospective observational study
Journal: Lancet Infectious Diseases
Summary: This is the first study to demonstrate falls in vaccine-preventable human papillomavirus (HPV) genotypes (6/11/16/18) in largely unvaccinated heterosexual men as a result of herd protection from vaccinated women from the national HPV vaccination programme in Australia.
The study looked over 11 years; 3 years before and 8 years after the female HPV vaccination programme. For the first time, I showed the prevalence of the four vaccine-preventable HPV genotypes (6/11/16/18) dramatically reduced from 20% in 2004/05 to 3% in 2014/15 among Australian-born men, suggesting these men received herd protection from their female partners. Interestingly, we found a decline in HPV 16/18 but not in HPV 6/11 among overseas travellers who were from countries (e.g. UK) with a bivalent vaccine (16/18 only) programme, suggests these men receive benefits from herd protection for 16/18 from their vaccinated female partners in their own countries. Publication
Public Health Research Mid-Career Researcher
A/Prof Yuming Guo (SPHPM)
Paper Title: Temperature Variability and Mortality: A Multi-Country Study
Journal: Environmental Health Perspectives
Summary: We collected daily data for temperature and mortality from 372 locations in 12 countries/regions (Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Japan, Moldova, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and the United States). Two-stage analyses were used to assess the relationship between temperature variability (TV) and mortality. In the first stage, a Poisson regression model allowing over-dispersion was used to estimate the community-specific TV-mortality relationship, after controlling for potential confounders. In the second stage, a meta-analysis was used to pool the effect estimates within each country. We found that there was a significant association between TV and mortality in all countries. Mortality risks related to TV were higher in hot areas than in cold areas when using short TV exposures (0–1 days), whereas TV-related mortality risks were higher in moderate areas than in cold and hot areas when using longer TV exposures (0–7 days). Publication