Success in the 2022 Premier’s Awards for Health and Medical Research

Dr Rangi Kandane-Rathnayake accepted the award on behalf of Dr Kathryn Connelly. Credit - Victorian Department of Health.

Monash early career researchers have been honoured at the 2022 Premier’s Awards for Health and Medical Research, with Dr Kathryn Connelly from the School of Clinical Sciences taking home the Clinical Researcher Award for her work on systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) treatments.

Established in 1995 by the Victorian Government in partnership with the Australian Society for Medical Research, the awards recognise the exceptional contributions and capabilities of Victoria’s early-career health and medical researchers.

Dr Jinxin Zhao from Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Dr Bradley Gardiner from the Central Clinical School, and Dr Jane Tiller from the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine were also finalists in this year’s awards.

Kathryn Connelly

Dr Kathryn Connelly

Dr Connelly's research addresses the need for new treatments in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), an incurable autoimmune disease. Despite demand for effective therapies, there has been a lack of success in clinical trials for SLE. One challenge is inadequate clinical trial endpoints, which often fail to capture meaningful improvements.

Recognising this gap, Dr Connelly's research focuses on developing an instrument and endpoint to measure treatment response in SLE clinical trials accurately. To do this, she assembled an international taskforce of lupus clinical experts, patient representatives, and experts from pharmaceutical companies. Dr Connelly aims to understand the limitations of existing trial endpoints, address knowledge gaps, and form a step-by-step plan to create and implement a new instrument and endpoint.

By introducing more robust and patient-centric measures, Dr Connelly's research aims to enhance the evaluation of potential therapies and facilitate the approval of novel treatments for SLE. This work has the potential to impact the lives of people living with SLE by improving their quality of life and expanding their treatment options.

“I am honoured to receive this award and am extremely fortunate to be working with a group of talented and supportive research colleagues and supervisors, who have made the work recognised by this award possible,” said Dr Connelly. “As a team, we are excited to continue our work on outcome measurement in lupus, and the prospect of contributing to better treatment options, and improving the lives of those affected by this debilitating disease.”

Our warmest congratulations to Dr Connelly, Dr Zhao, Dr Gardiner and Dr Tiller for this well-deserved recognition of their contribution and capabilities in health and medical research.

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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