18 March 2020.

Professor Westbrook’s remarkable impact on healthcare has been recognised with the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) naming her the winner of the coveted Elizabeth Blackburn Investigator Grant Award for Leadership in Health Services Research.

Professor Westbrook is Director of Macquarie University’s Centre for Health Systems and Safety Research at the Australian Institute of Health Innovation and a Sax Institute board member.

She is internationally recognised for her work in evaluating and optimising electronic medication management systems – research that is a potential game changer in reducing medication errors in hospitals.

From left: Professor Ingrid Winship (Chair, Australian Health Ethics Committee), Professor Johanna Westbrook,
Professor Anne Kelso, AO (Chief Executive Officer NHMRC).

The Elizabeth Blackburn Investigator Grant Award recognises the highest-ranking woman in the area of health services, determined by a peer review process. It was presented to Professor Westbrook at the NHMRC’s annual Research Excellence Awards in Canberra on 11 March, in association with a $2.5 million NHMRC Investigator Grant. This funding will help Professor Westbrook and her team to look at ways to improve medication safety in hospitals.

“Our research has demonstrated the enormous potential of electronic medication management systems to reduce medication errors – in some cases halving the rate of errors in hospitals,” says Professor Westbrook.

“Our next crucial step is to understand how to optimise these systems – to increase their effectiveness and safety, and to better integrate them into the everyday work of clinicians, each with their own unique work patterns, needs, preferences and professional cultures.”

Sax Institute CEO Sally Redman congratulated Professor Westbrook on the Award. “We are truly delighted to see Professor Westbrook’s important research being honoured by this award. Her commitment to producing world-class research that makes a real difference to health care is inspiring. Johanna has also found time to make a wonderful contribution to the Sax Institute’s Board.”

The Elizabeth Blackburn Award is named after the Australian Nobel Laureate Professor Elizabeth Blackburn, a molecular biologist who received the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine.

See how Professor Westbrook is tackling medication errors

Professor Westbrook’s latest work with Westmead Children’s Hospital is proving that electronic medication support technology can reduce drug errors in children’s hospitals by as much as 40 per cent.