Cleaning up at Nephrology Awards

Nephrology award

L-R: Kate Robson, Kim O’Sullivan, Ben Lazarus

The most prestigious awards at the Australian and New Zealand Society of Nephrology (ANZSN) Annual Scientific Meeting are the two Young Investigator Awards, one in Discovery and Translational Research, the other in Clinical Research.

ANZSN is a not-for-profit organisation representing the interests of over 1,000 health professionals committed to preventing and treating kidney disease. Its awards recognise and honour the outstanding contributions and achievements of the society’s members across career stages, the domains of basic science and clinical science, and within craft groups.

Finalists for the awards are selected from abstract submission and the winners are determined based on the quality of the science, scientific impact, a presentation, and response to questions.

This year at the 57th meeting that took place in Christchurch, New Zealand, Monash Department of Medicine PhD students, who are also clinician-scientists, won both awards. As far as we can tell, this is the first time young researchers from one department have won both awards.

Dr Ben Lazarus, whose primary supervisor is Adjunct Professor Kevan Polkinghorne, won for determining that a simpler method of replacing haemodialysis vascular access was equivalent to a more invasive procedure. In this instance using existing trial data and new analytical techniques to compare the two methods. Ben’s award is the Young Investigator Award in Clinical Science.

Dr Kate Robson, whose primary supervisor is Professor Richard Kitching, won for using human samples to determine the role of T cells with the potential to better assess disease activity in vasculitis affecting the kidney. Kate’s award is the Young Investigator Award in Discovery and Translational Research.

Naturally, collaboration from other institutions was vital and in these cases Monash Health, BDI Monash, the George Institute, and multiple other hospital units played their part.

But that’s not all.

Dr Kim O’Sullivan won the 2023 Mid-Career Discovery Science Award which is based on the highest ranked abstract and track record. Kim is the Laboratory Head of the Translational Kidney Therapies Group within the Centre for Inflammatory Diseases at the Monash Health Translational Precinct. Kim’s work suggests that modifying the gut microbiome can reduce inflammation in experimental renal vasculitis. Kim won the Young Investigator Award in Basic Science earlier in her career.

Congratulations Ben, Kate and Kim!

Why we need kidney disease research:

  • Kidney disease is very common. One in 10 Australians has kidney disease and unfortunately each year more than 3000 of these patients start haemodialysis treatments to stay alive, and join more than 15,000 patients already receiving dialysis across Australia. Haemodialysis treatments, and maintaining the vascular access required to administer it, places a large burden on patients and health services. Research to prevent kidney disease and improve its treatment has tremendous benefits for patients and is essential to supporting healthy communities.
  • Vasculitis is a particularly serious cause of kidney failure but we have limited effective treatments and they are largely non-specific, and we lack tools to determine disease activity and the risk of the disease relapsing after a period of remission. Therefore, we are unsure for how long to treat patients with these potentially toxic therapies.

About Monash University

Monash University is Australia’s largest university with more than 80,000 students. In the 60 years since its foundation, it has developed a reputation for world-leading high-impact research, quality teaching, and inspiring innovation.

With four campuses in Australia and a presence in Malaysia, China, India, Indonesia and Italy, it is one of the most internationalised Australian universities.

As a leading international medical research university with the largest medical faculty in Australia and integration with leading Australian teaching hospitals, we consistently rank in the top 50 universities worldwide for clinical, pre-clinical and health sciences.

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