Sax Awards celebrate impact in health research
Research Action Awards 2018 winners (L-R): A/Prof Anne Abbott, NHMRC CEO Prof Anne Kelso, A/Prof Lisa Wood, and Prof Kate Curtis

Three Australian health researchers whose inspiring work has had a major impact in areas as diverse as childhood trauma, stroke prevention and homelessness were recognised at the Sax Institute’s 2018 Research Action Awards last month.

Braving the wettest November conditions Sydney has seen in decades, an enthusiastic audience of over a hundred senior policy makers, research leaders and academics gathered at Darling Harbour to celebrate the achievements of the three researchers from Melbourne, Wollongong and Perth. They were:

  • Associate Professor Anne Abbott, Monash University, for her research and advocacy around non-invasive stroke prevention
  • Professor Kate Curtis, University of Sydney, for her contribution to reducing the incidence and impact of childhood injury
  • Associate Professor Lisa Wood, University of Western Australia, for her work in addressing policy gaps for homeless people.

Established in 2015, the annual Research Action Awards recognise researchers whose work has made a significant impact on health policy, programs or service delivery.

Congratulating the winners, Master of Ceremonies Don Nutbeam, Professor of Public Health at the University of Sydney and Senior Adviser at the Sax Institute, said the awards acknowledged researchers who had not only identified issues of immediate relevance to health policy makers, but who had found “elegant and creative ways to have their findings acted upon”.

The winners received their awards from guest speaker Professor Anne Kelso AO, CEO of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). In her address, Professor Kelso said that as governments and funders across the world increasingly focus on the return on investment from their research spend, the potential real-world impact of health research has become a critical yardstick. She noted that the NHMRC had recently introduced impact into its assessment of researchers’ track records when they apply for grants.

“I hope that will encourage all researchers to think about impact from the start,” Professor Kelso said.

“What I admire about the Sax Institute Research Action Awards is that they recognise the actual impact of research on society, on improvements in policy and the way disease prevention and healthcare are designed. They draw attention to these impacts and therefore help promote community understanding of the central role research plays at every level of the system, from prevention to detection to treatment and care.”

Read more about the winners and their work here.

Watch videos of the winners discussing their work here.