Avant Doctor in Training previous scholarship recipients

Since 2012, the Avant Doctor in Training Research Scholarship Program has provided support for life changing research. It is our pleasure to acknowledge and share the research work of past scholarship recipients.
2022 recipients

Full time, part time and short-term grants

Dr Benjamin Dickson
Delineating the risk factors and source of neonatal acquisition of multi-drug resistant Gram-negative pathogens in high countries in South-East Asia and the Pacific


Dr Gloria Lau
Improving respiratory health for Aboriginal children: a knowledge translation approach


Dr Fiona Li
Discrete Choice Experiment: Determining Patient Decision Making Factors in Management of Postmenopausal Vaginal Symptoms


Dr Monica Ng
Kidney Extracellular vesicles for Predicting AKI Resolution (KEPAK) study


Dr Jessica Tong
Efficacy and safety of corticosteroids for paediatric orbital cellulitis


Dr Tess Evans
POEMS: A Prospective Observational Embedded Microbiome Study of Critical Illness


Dr Alison McLean
Towards Implementation of Pharmacogenomics – guided therapy in Patients with Mental Illness: the ENACT trial: Stages 2 & 3


Dr Shejik Kumar
Combining osteoanabolic pharmacotherapy with osteogenic exercise in women with postmenopausal osteoporosis/osteopenia


Dr Helena Franco
Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip Research application


Dr Thomas Drake-Brockman
Quenda: Qualitative Exploration to uNderstand pain in children and Develop novel technologies to Address challenges


Dr Emma Lumsden
The use of Negative Pressure Wound Therapy in Paediatric Burns


Dr Genevieve Ho
Remote image acquisition for reflectance confocal microscopy: A pre-implementation study for skin cancer diagnostic accuracy


Dr Kevin Jang
Machine learning to distinguish tumour progression from radiation necrosis in brain metastases


Dr Al-Rahim Habib
DrumBeat.ai: Integrating artificial intelligence (AI) into clinical practice to identify ear disease in rural and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children


Dr Timea Jurth
Improving patient selection for pulmonary endarterectomy in chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension


Dr Kate Poulgrain
Molecular features of butterfly gliomas


Dr Sudarshana Jeyarajakumar
Impact of ethnicity on perinatal outcomes in women with gestational diabetes mellitus


Dr Richard Shao
Patient-centred, multi-disciplinary, innovative and cost-effective health solution to understand and manage non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in a culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) population


Dr Amanda Wee
POP IT - Post-Operative Pessary In Native Tissue repair: a prospective, single blinded RCT


Dr Pranav Sharma
Diagnostic accuracy of contrast-enhanced MRI for detection of perineural spread in head and neck cancers: systematic review and meta-analysis


Dr Dumindu Weerakkody
Head and Neck Surgery - COVID 19 - Microgrant


Dr Xinling Wong
Cost-effectiveness of HLA-B*1502 genotype screening prior to carbamazepine administration in individuals of Asian ancestry in Australia


Dr Jessica Teoh
intrauterine pregnancy of unknown viability (IPUV) Study


Dr James Sellars
Impact of paraoesophageal hernia repair on respiratory function


Dr Angela Burvill
Emerging therapies to lower Lp(a) - an economic evaluation


Dr Brandon Stretton
Evaluating the benefits of mock OSCEs vs faculty-led OSCEs


Dr Madison Boot
Signet Ring Cell Carcinoma of the Prostate - Systematic Review


Dr Ellen Kelsey
Botox as a tool for management of idiopathic overactive bladder

2021 recipients

Full time, part time and short-term grants

Dr Tejas Singh
Genome-Wide Association Study for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm diagnosis and progression


Dr Umar Ali
Advancing metabolic phenotyping to understand and prevent atherosclerosis progression. 


Dr Michael Zhu
Long-term Outcomes of Surgery for Aortic Valve Diseases in Children. 


Dr Thomas Goubar
The role of bariatric surgery in heart failure patients with obesity 


Dr Al-Rahim Habib
DrumBeat.ai: Addressing Paediatric Indigenous Ear Disease in Rural and Remote Australia Using Artificial Intelligence.


Dr Mina Kang
Investigating the Vascular Origins of Reticulate Eruptions. 


Dr Lucy Huang
The effect of epigenetic compounds in combination with metformin in head and neck cancer. 


Accredited Trainee

Dr Natasha Pritchard
What size is healthy? Defining the small and large fetus in pregnancy. 


Dr Yi Chao Foong 
Validation and implementation of smartphone-based digital biomarkers in multiple sclerosis to define subclinical progression and treatment failure: the ACTIVE MS study.


Dr Alex Wood
Functional Immunophenotyping in Critical Illness (FICI). 


Dr Daniel Cox
Determining the contributors of circulating mitochondrial-derived cell-free DNA in patients following liver transplantation and their immuno-modulatory effects on patient outcomes.


Dr Tao Xing
Systemic Use of Circulating Biomarkers to Predict Treatment Response in Patients with Oropharynx Cancer. 


Dr Lydia Pathmanathan
Use of Atenolol for the Treatment of Infantile Haemangiomas. 


Dr Dhivya Thangavel 
Perineal Cleansing in Prevention of Recurrent Urinary Tract Infection in Post-Menopausal Women (CUTIP) Trial.


Dr Mihir Shanker
A Machine Learning Model with Radiomics for predicting Local Control and radionecrosis outcomes for Melanoma Brain Metastases treated with Gamma Knife Stereotactic Radiosurgery and Immunotherapy

New Fellow

Dr Afaf Abed
Genomic HLA and pre-treatment TCR repertoire as biomarkers of response to immunotherapy in advanced non-small cell lung cancer patients.


Dr Ouli Xie
Evolution of Streptococcal pathovars. 


Dr Aysha Al-Ani
NEcroptosis in InflammatOry Bowel Disease: An Assessment of Mixed Lineage KinAse Domain-Like (MLKL) and Receptor Interacting Protein Kinase-1 (RIPK-1) in Intestinal Tissue (NEOMAP).


Dr Sulakchanan Anandabaskaran
Perianal Crohn's Disease. 

2020 recipients


Full time:

Dr Sam Emmanuel


Heart transplantation is the gold standard for treating end-stage heart failure. One of the biggest limitations of transplantation is organ availability. Mechanical heart devices can help support patients until an organ is available, but the lack of pulsatility is a key problem with these devices. This research will focus on making these devices pulse using signals from the patient's own heart. This technology could take us one step closer to using mechanical devices as a heart transplant alternative.

Dr Ryan Cohen


Despite surgery, 20% of patients with localised bowel cancer will develop metastasis (cancer spread). To prevent patients from dying from this disease, we need to find better ways to identify those at risk of metastasis. This research will link long-term patient data with biomarkers of bowel cancer metastasis studied in a laboratory. The biomarkers are the immune response to bowel cancer and extracellular vesicles, which are sac-like structures released into the bloodstream by cancer cells.

Part time:

Dr Dinesh Palipana


The objective of BioSpine is to restore function in paralysis caused by spinal cord injury through thought controlled electrical stimulation with pharmacological adjuncts. The project is based on the existing results of preliminary clinical trials in the United States and animal trials in Switzerland. It is intended to improve the function in people with spinal cord injury while reducing long-term complications and costs.

Dr Elzerie de Jager


This project aims to examine whether there are differences in patient outcomes across the continuum of surgical care for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people, utilising existing hospital administrative data. Outcomes that demonstrate differences could be used as indicators to provide focused future quality improvement targets.


Dr Kai Zheong Lim


This study aims to determine the health benefits of oral probiotics in improving post-operative recovery, following appendicectomy in children. Children with appendicitis will be randomly allocated to receive probiotics or a placebo for one month post appendicectomy. Information will be collected regarding post-operative recovery (e.g. return to normal physical activities, number of bowel actions, etc.) to determine if the probiotics are beneficial post-surgery and provide a quicker recovery.

Dr Minh-Son To


Many radiological studies are performed as part of patient follow-up, to monitor progression or resolution of disease. This research will develop novel machine learning techniques and neural network models for comparing sequential imaging studies, to detect and highlight regions with significant and relevant change.

Dr Brent James Doolan


There are limited medical options available for the management and treatment of vitiligo. An alternative therapeutic option is surgery, where patients can undergo a transplant of their melanocytes from normal pigmented skin to a depigmented (vitiligo) area – unfortunately, it is an incredibly expensive process. This research will explore ways to modify the technique, to improve the result, and dramatically reduce patient costs, making it more accessible.

Accredited Trainee

Full time

Dr Vinayak Smith


Fetal heart rate monitoring (FHR) using cardiotocography (CTG) remains the most used test in pregnancy to ensure fetal wellbeing. However, there are several limitations, such as it is poor at detecting fetal compromise and it is an inpatient test that requires clinician oversight. To improve these, FEMOM a wearable ambulatory device was invented to enable prescribed woman centric clinical grade FHR monitoring from home. This research aims to investigate how well it performs against CTG.

Dr Alison Boast


Bone and joint infections in children can result in long-term disability. Normally children with these infections are admitted to hospital and given antibiotic through their vein for two to four days. This research focuses on whether children with bone and joint infections can be treated with antibiotics given orally. This would mean that children and their families can stay at home and avoid distressing procedures, improving their quality of life and reducing the cost of treatment.

Part time

Dr Ahmer Hameed


The demand for donor kidneys far outstrips the supply, and as such we are increasingly reliant upon more 'marginal' organs for transplantation. Better preservation methods are required for these organs to yield improved outcomes. This research will attempt to establish normothermic machine perfusion (NMP) of the kidney prior to transplantation, with the aim to enhance transplantation outcomes, and organ availability and utilisation.

Dr Michelle Sun


Bioengineering involves the creation of replacement tissue using both artificial and biological material. There are many structures in and around the eye which are suitable for bioengineering studies, with huge potential benefits for patients suffering from various blinding eye conditions. This research focuses on different structures in and around the eye, with a focus on personalising tissue by incorporating the patient's own cells during the bioengineering process.

Dr Jenny Luise Hepschke


Visual snow refers to the experience of flickering fine dots in the whole visual field of both eyes, likened to ‘static analogue television noise’. It is often associated with other visual symptoms and non-visual features such as migraine, tinnitus and tremor. A lot of medical practitioners are not familiar with visual snow syndrome (VSS) and the exact cause, and the link with other sensory systems is not well understood. This study uses magnetic encephalography to characterise VSS further.


Dr Kwee Chin Liew


This research proposes to develop a timely sample processing and sequencing analysis method to provide clinically relevant data on infectious disease cases. The aim is to track epidemics in people in the Geelong area and keep regional infectious disease doctors abreast of infections currently circulating in the community.

Dr Carlos Cabalag


Some patients with oesophageal cancer respond well to treatments, but for others, these are ineffective and can even be harmful. This research will establish the usefulness of blood tests (liquid biopsy) that measure cancer burden and spread, to identify those patients who will benefit from treatments and those who won’t. We will also evaluate the cost-effectiveness of these tests to inform alternative management pathways that personalise treatments.

Dr Hussain Ijaz Khan


This study aims to assess the effectiveness of a novel hip joint injection of autologous protein solution (APS) derived from the patient's own blood. We will initially determine the safety and efficacy of APS hip injections in patients with hip osteoarthritis through a pilot trial. We then aim to carry out a two arm randomised control trial to determine if a single APS injection in patients with hip osteoarthritis provides superior symptomatic relief compared to controls who will receive a placebo injection and oral anti-inflammatory medications.

New Fellow


Dr Kevin Cheng


Coronary artery disease is the leading cause of death in Australia. Inflammation is a key driver of harmful build-up of cholesterol plaques in arteries. Currently it is unclear how to detect patients with a high level of inflammation. The research will examine a new approach to detect coronary inflammation using CT coronary angiography (CTCA). It will also investigate how to utilise CTCA to guide targeted therapy with statin and colchicine in patients with residual inflammation, to reduce risk of future heart attack.

Dr Victoria Hall


This prospective observational cohort study will assess the immune response in solid organ transplant patients compared with health care workers to the approved COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna) in Canada and Australia. The research will help inform how effective and safe vaccination against COVID-19 is in an immunocompromised host. Blood samples will be taken before and after the vaccination has been administered. These will then be measured in the laboratory for antibody and T-cell responses to COVID-19. All participants will receive frequent follow-up calls six months post vaccination to see if they have been infected with COVID-19 despite vaccination.

Dr Lucy Caroline McGrath-Cadell


The aim of this research is to better understand the potentially fatal clinical condition Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD), by utilising cutting-edge genetic technology and heart imaging techniques. SCAD affects relatively young women (average age 45-52 years) who have a low incidence of heart disease risk factors. It involves a clot in the heart artery wall and/or an associated tear and presents as a heart attack or sudden death. The causes and best treatments are unknown.

Dr Alp Atik


Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world. However, treatments are currently undergoing a renaissance, with the advent of surgical techniques termed minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS) of which the US is the global leader. The research will monitor the performance of several operations which are currently not available in Australia, such as iTrack microcatheterization, and will focus on the outcomes utilising these novel surgical devices, in terms of efficacy and cost-effectiveness.

2019 recipients


Full time:

Dr Andrés Noé


Malaria is a leading global health problem and currently there is no fully licensed vaccine available. A vaccine that blocks malaria transmission is necessary for eradication of the disease. This project will focus on the immunological memory of malaria-parasite specific B cells, which form the foundation of successful vaccine-induced protection. This research aims to improve the design and efficacy of malaria transmission-blocking vaccines to advance the progression towards a malaria-free world.

Dr Ayub Qassim


Glaucoma is a progressive eye disease, which can lead to blindness and often has no symptoms in the early stages. This study will investigate the clinical and genetic risk factors to help identify patients at higher risk of developing glaucoma, to prevent vision loss. This will involve analysing the structural properties of the cornea, the role of sleep apnoea, home eye pressure monitoring and the contribution of common and rare genetic variants to the development of glaucoma.


Part time

Dr Xintao Ye


Tetralogy of Fallot is a congenital heart defect affecting approximately 100 newborns annually in Australia. Most of these newborns will undergo open-heart surgery before their first birthday. Although surgery is often successful, and babies are expected to survive to adulthood, many face an increased risk of heart failure or premature death. The  study will investigate the long-term outcomes of these children and aims to identify the optimal surgical strategies that will maximise survival and minimise complications.

Dr Kiri Gates


This project will screen primary care patients for diabetic eye disease using recently developed artificial intelligence (AI) technology integrated with an automated portable retinal camera. Patients will be recruited by rural WA GP practices and Aboriginal health services and retinal images graded by two ophthalmologists and AI. The study aims to assess the feasibility, real-world clinical accuracy and satisfaction by practitioners of the screening service in primary care settings. If successful, the model would provide a feasible and cost-effective solution for GPs to perform point-of-care screening for diabetic retinopathy and make referral recommendations.

Dr Veral Vishnoi


Colorectal surgery carries one of the highest risks of infection at the surgical site, with an incidence of up to 30%. This research aims to use 16sRNA sequencing analysis to characterise the microbiome of the surgical site in colorectal patients. The study will compare standard culture dependent techniques with 16sRNA sequencing and assess whether sampling the surgical site at the end of an operation can predict surgical site infection. The study will determine whether it is possible to strategically manipulate the surgical site in the peri-operative period to reduce the incidence of surgical site infection.



Dr Sam Francis


Cartilage defects are a significant burden to patients, leading to reduced quality of life. Younger patients have no long-term treatment strategy and face multiple operations and complications due to the development of osteoarthritis. This project aims to rapidly isolate mesenchymal stem cells with a view to producing a one-step rapid repair option in a pilot rabbit model. Such a repair option will also allow patients to be back on their feet the same day and return to everyday function.

Accredited Trainee

Full time

Dr Andrew Maurice


For the last century, almost all cases of appendicitis have been treated with surgery. Recent controversial trials have suggested that some, if not most, cases of appendicitis can be treated with antibiotics and perhaps even no treatment. The multi-centre randomised controlled trial will compare surgery to non-operative management including antibiotics and supportive care.

Dr Georgina Riddiough


This project aims to establish 3D cultures of human cancers in a dish in the presence of the patients own white blood cells, to closely study the interactions between the immune cells and the tumour. This model aims to mimic this scenario in patients and will provide a key method for studying tumour-immune interactions. By studying the interactions of these cells in a dish, the project hopes to shed light on the mechanisms that drive tumour recurrence.

Part time

Dr Matthew Roberts


Recent use of Prostate Specific Membrane Antigen (PSMA) PET scanning has allowed better visualisation of prostate cancer spread. However, it is still unclear when radical treatment (lymph node dissection/radiotherapy) can be omitted. This multi-centre, nation-wide project aims to develop an advanced prediction model of whether cancer has spread based on clinical and imaging results. The model hopes to inform specialists on optimal treatment and reduce treatment-associated harm, while maintaining best outcomes.

Dr Georgia Carroll


Colorectal cancer is common and one third of patients pass away within five years of diagnosis. Curative treatment is surgery, but up to half of patients ultimately develop recurrent disease. It has been proposed that surgery can generate neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) and cell-free DNA (cfDNA) in the bloodstream and they may cause the spread of disease. In this pilot study, we aim to identify if NETs and cfDNA have any relation to operative outcomes and cancer-specific survival.

Dr Adam Stewart


Taking antibiotics has a negative effect on the healthy bacteria that live within our bodies. Some antibiotics drive the replacement of good bacteria, with bugs that are highly resistant to antibiotics, known as ‘superbugs’. The study aims to determine what these effects are and document the genetic changes in bacteria that occur due to antibiotic exposure. The research will allow doctors to choose better antibiotics to treat everyday infections and determine patients at high risk of harbouring superbugs.


Dr Alice Bergin


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people diagnosed with breast or lung cancer have significantly worse survival outcomes in comparison to non-Indigenous people. A thorough understanding of the biology of cancer in Indigenous people is likely to hold critical clues to turn this disparity around. Rigorous scientific method and novel communication will be critical to influencing policy and finding a long-term solution to this tragedy engulfing Australia.

Dr Sandeep Singh Rakhra


This prospective trial will evaluate serum anti-Xa assay levels in ICU trauma patients receiving prophylactic Clexane. It is hypothesised that current doses are insufficient to protect patients from veno-thromboembolism and hoped this research will lead to larger multi-centre trials. The trial will assess the adequacy of current Clexane dosing in high risk trauma patients by measuring anti-Xa assay levels and the presence of deep vein thrombosis on twice weekly limb ultrasound and clinically significant pulmonary emboli.

Dr Hari Wimaleswaran


Silicosis is a severe, preventable and irreversible fibrotic occupational lung disease caused by the inhalation of dust containing respirable crystalline silica. Australia is in a crippling silicosis epidemic, with subsequent morbidity and expedited mortality in most cases. Currently, there is no effective medical treatment for silicosis. This research focuses on the cellular and molecular pathways, including biomarkers which are not well defined and may guide potential therapeutic targets.

New Fellow


Dr Mark Taylor


Transthyretin amyloidosis is caused by the slow aggregation of a blood protein, transthyretin, into microscopic amyloid fibres in the heart muscle, and sometimes into nerves and the intestines. A percentage of cases are inherited, caused by mutations in the transthyretin gene and can be detected by $400 genetic testing. The research will develop and implement a rapid, sensitive and inexpensive test for transthyretin mutations directly from patient blood samples using mass spectrometry.

Dr Anannya Chakrabarti


Breast cancer cells can escape early in cancer development, however, not all escaped cancer cells become a metastasis. Many years after diagnosis and curative treatment, breast cancer can still recur, and escaped cells are thought to contribute to this. Escaped cells are difficult to detect and treat, and their biology is unknown. We aim to test three strategies to regulate escaped cells and prolong survival: inducing programmed cell death (apoptosis), chemosensitisation of these cells and long-term control of these cells using non-toxic medication. We also hope to determine breast cancer recurrence risk by correlating our findings with clinical outcomes.

Dr Hayley Barnes


Interstitial lung diseases cause lung scarring and treatments and outcomes for each type can be quite different. One type, chronic hypersensitivity pneumonitis (CHP), is difficult to accurately diagnose and the tests can be onerous. The study will conduct a bronchoscopy in CHP patients to take cell washings from their lungs and these cells will be assigned a unique bar code. Machine learning will be used to identify cells in these patients. The study hopes to identify novel biomarkers of immune function in the lung to predict specific patterns of interstitial lung repair to broaden understanding of fibrosis and repair.

Dr Daniel Chan


The oesophageal hiatus is the gap through which the food pipe travels from the chest to the abdomen. Through this gap, the stomach can herniate into the chest, causing heartburn and chest pain. Currently, there is no means of objective measurement. This pilot study will establish an objective way of assessing the oesophageal hiatus. Measurements will be taken from 3-dimensional CT (x-ray) reconstructions of 100 patients. The study will also assess how sensitive this is compared to existing methods.

2018 recipients

Advancement of Medicine category

Full time:

Dr Danielle Oh


Tumours driven by the genetic factors associated with cancer such as MYC are difficult to treat and effectively targeting MYC using small molecules has proven elusive. Dual inhibitors in a single molecule targeting two separate molecular pathways of MYC may be feasible and effective, especially circumventing resistance demonstrated by using single inhibitors. I aim to see if these dual inhibitors can induce potent anti-tumour activities in MYC-driven blood and lymph node cancers.

Dr Tamara Mogilevski


Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is common, exerting a significant personal and societal burden on the Australian population. Current medications used to treat IBD are expensive, have many side effects and at times require hospitalisation for their administration. We aim to develop a non-invasive and inexpensive technique of vagal nerve stimulation as a novel treatment strategy for IBD.

Dr Sarah Scheuer


Critical organ shortages still exist in heart transplantation. To try and address this issue, I’ll be investigating the ability of a new, venom derived peptide, to activate the heart’s own protective pathways, defending donor hearts against ischaemic injury during the process of heart transplantation. Ultimately, this will improve the early function of donor hearts currently used for transplantation as well as allowing us to use hearts previously not deemed suitable, increasing the donor pool and addressing the burgeoning needs in this area.

Dr Vinayak Smith


Foetuses affected by reduced movements are at a high risk of poor obstetric outcomes. At present, the only way to measure foetal movements is through the mother's perceptions of them. However, this method has shortcomings in terms of reliability. This project aims to address this problem by developing a device and assessing its clinical value to help mothers monitor their foetal movements around the clock.

Part time:

Dr Matti Gild


The societal burden of thyroid cancer is increasing, with both incidence and mortality on the rise. My fellowship will explore mechanisms of poor outcomes in thyroid cancer. Once we identify genetic signatures and correlate this with prognosis and recurrence, we can combine this with established pathological risk. This will lead to personalisation of thyroid cancer management and less over and under treatment which will optimise prognosis and quality of life.

Dr Gregory King


Children with the most severe forms of heart disease effectively only have half a functioning heart. Thanks to advanced surgical techniques, more of these children are surviving to adulthood than ever before. A leaking heart valve is thought to be extremely dangerous for these patients. We currently do not know how many patients will develop a leaking valve, what the long-term impact of this is and how we should manage these patients. This research project aims to answer these questions.

Dr Kirsten Furley


Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are the two most common neurodevelopmental disorders, yet diagnosis and management remains challenging. ADHD and ASD symptoms co-occur in 20-50% of cases and share common genes, yet are often diagnosed and treated as separate disorders. We will identify subgroups across the ASD-ADHD spectrum who show similar clinical, neurobiological and genetic profiles to improve diagnostic specificity and treatment options.


Dr Sophia Ang


Gastric cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death worldwide. The most common cause of gastric cancer is H.pylori infection. Gastric cancer occurs decades after infection without mutations in cancer genes. The process that initiates H.pylori gastric cancer must be present after infection and persists in established cancer. We showed the unfolded protein response is a strong candidate, with DDIT3 being the key driver. We test this theory by comparing the development of gastric pre-cancer to cancer in mice deficient in DDIT3 with control mice.

Dr Jack Ao


My research focuses on a novel non-invasive near-infrared laser termed photobiomodulation to treat retinitis pigmentosa (RP) for which there is no treatment. RP patients eventually become blind as a result of cone cell degeneration. In our lab, we have found an extraordinary protective effect of photobiomodulation on cones in mice models of RP. This treatment could maintain central vision and prevent complete blindness in RP patients, making it a major medical breakthrough.

Quality in Medicine category

Part time:

Dr Alicia Jones


Knowledge gaps regarding osteoporosis exist amongst the community and clinicians in regional/rural Victoria. These gaps contribute to sub-optimal health behaviours and clinical management. We aim to develop, implement and evaluate an innovative model of care, addressing both consumer and clinician factors, to improve osteoporosis outcomes for rural/regional Victorians. This model of care may also be used to guide practice in other chronic conditions.

Dr Emma Foster


Patients attending Emergency Departments (EDs) after a first seizure receive variable and not always evidence-based management. The extent to which this impacts health and economic outcomes has not been systematically studied. This project will identify a cohort of approximately 15,000 patients with a convulsion who attended EDs across five Melbourne hospitals over a 10-year period, link this cohort to state and nationwide datasets, and establish morbidity and mortality rates.


Dr Fabio Longordo


During the surgical journey, patient care is transferred across different settings and teams. Effective communication between teams is paramount to ensure continuity of care and avoid patient harm. This is particularly true for patients considered at higher risk of complications because of their age or general poor health. Our aim is to enhance the visibility of these high-risk patients during their hospitalisation period at The Canberra Hospital so they can be easily recognised and appropriately treated.

Dr Jenny Liu


Cancer survivors experience unique psychological stressors, most commonly fear of cancer recurrence (FCR). FCR is highly prevalent, however many patients are reluctant to discuss FCR with their doctors. While a number of psychologist-delivered interventions exist, these are costly and time-intensive. No interventions exist addressing FCR in the cancer specialist clinic. Our study aims to pilot a new clinician-administered intervention which addresses FCR in breast cancer survivors.

Dr Jeremy Tan


Periorbital and orbital cellulitis is the inflammation of the tissues within and surrounding the eye socket. It can lead to serious complications including blindness, brain infections, and death. This project will determine which factors lead to poorer outcomes, with the purpose of identifying patients that will benefit from early surgical intervention. This study will lead to the development of a nationwide protocol for management of this condition for use in paediatric emergency departments.

Dr Philippa Dossetor


This Aboriginal-led study aims to assess the prevalence of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and health problems and identify available health services and strategies to better coordinate service delivery. Children (born 2002-3) in the Fitzroy Valley were invited to participate. Interviews with caregivers and collection of hospitalisation data and emergency presentations occurred. Assessments were conducted for all children. We hope to examine the use of Fitzroy Hospital to accurately show child health service utilisation.

Dr Sam Salman


Low levels of protective antibodies (immunoglobulin) is the most common form of low immune function in adults. Replacing immunoglobulin (obtained from blood donations) is a key part of treatment. Although used for many years, there are still gaps in understanding factors responsible for differences between patients and between doses in the same patient. This project will use mathematical models to explore these factors and aims to inform the optimal amount to give patients of this precious resource.

2017 recipients

Advancement of Medicine category

Full time:

Dr Dylan Morris

UK Temporary - Resident Medical Officer

Around one fifth of strokes are caused by carotid stenosis, a narrowing of the large arteries that carry blood from the heart to the brain. It is unclear whether procedures, such as carotid surgery and stenting, further reduce the risk of a stroke in people with carotid stenosis who have not had a recent stroke or mini-stroke. This research will involve investigating the stroke risk of affected people, and identifying whether people may benefit from a carotid procedure to prevent stroke.

Dr Elie Matar

NSW - Doctor in Training

A strong therapeutic and prognostic incentive exists for identifying individuals at risk of developing Lewy Body Disorders (LBDs) such as dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinson's disease. This project aims to recruit patients from the above groups and combine structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging, Nuclear Medicine imaging (PET), sleep and neuropsychological testing to identify neural signatures that may be useful biomarkers for diagnosis and prediction of treatment outcomes.

Dr Sabapathy Krishnan

SA - Resident Medical Officer

Oral cancer spreads quickly to lymph nodes in the neck, and this has an associated 50% decrease in survival. Sentinel lymph node biopsy is a technique to identify cancer in lymph nodes, which would obviate the need for complete surgical neck node clearance in some patients with oral cancer, but current technology has limited accuracy in the head and neck. This study evaluates the accuracy of novel magnetic nanotechnology for sentinel lymph node mapping as an innovative diagnostic option.

Dr Ebony Liu

SA - Resident Medical Officer

The research focuses on optimising treatment for diabetic eye disease. It involves investigating whether a new drug (Ozurdex) is a better alternative in remote indigenous communities. It will also explore the risk factors for poorer response to current treatment and whether genetics play a role in the development and progression of this disease. In identifying molecular biomarkers, we can further develop a personalised approach to treating this blinding disease.

Part time:

Dr Satish Ramkumar

VIC - Doctor in Training

Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is a common heart rhythm disorder. The risk of AF increases with age and recent research has shown a close relationship with obesity and high blood pressure. AF is associated with heart failure and stroke. This leads to recurrent hospital admissions, impaired quality of life and high health care costs. This project will use cardiac imaging and clinical parameters to identify patients at risk of AF. This can be used in community screening programs to allow early diagnosis.

Dr Amanda Poprzeczny

SA - Doctor in Training

Maternal overweight and obesity is an increasing problem in current obstetric practice, and puts both mother and infant at risk of complications including gestational diabetes and infant birthweight >4kg. My project will investigate fetal and newborn growth and fat distribution in women of a normal and elevated BMI. The project will also investigate any additional effects of a diagnosis of gestational diabetes on fetal and newborn growth and fat distribution.


Dr David Liu

QLD - Resident Medical Officer

When smokers are admitted to ICU, they necessarily cease smoking "cold turkey" and are prescribed nicotine-containing skin patches to manage withdrawal symptoms. It is not known, however whether ICU patients who also have liver failure are at risk of nicotine toxicity, since nicotine is metabolised primarily by the liver. This pharmacokinetic study of blood and urine nicotine levels will - for the first time - determine the safety of nicotine patches in this highly vulnerable patient group.

Dr Aaron Budden

NSW - Doctor in Training

Our aim is to assess if the use of elastography can accurately diagnose women with adenomyosis. All women who are to undergo a planned hysterectomy in our unit for heavy menstrual bleeding would normally undergo transabdominal and transvaginal ultrasound to assist with operative planning. Seventy-five consecutively enrolled women will undergo elastography, a digital enhancement of the ultrasound images. After hysterectomy, pathology results will be compared to elastography to assist accuracy.

Quality in Medicine category

Part time:

Dr Victor Aguirre

VIC - Doctor in Training

Multimedia technology has become an important tool used for surgical education, but its use can be limited by time and accessibility. The project has created a library of "Speed-art" surgical videos - this is an innovative editing technique which allows long videos to be presented in a short time frame whilst keeping all the footage. A webpage (www.surgeonview.com.au) was created to enable free online access to this surgical library by students, doctors in training and surgeons.

Dr Sean Stevens

VIC - Doctor in Training

Globally, there is shortage of surgeons and especially so in low-income countries. Research into how low-income countries can train more surgeons is lacking. Timor-Leste is a low-income country that recently established a surgical training program. This study will explore how Timor-Leste developed their surgical training program. By learning from the Timorese experience, this study will identify lessons to assist other low-income countries in developing their own surgical training programs.


Dr Rebecca Saunderson

NSW - Doctor in Training

The project aims to develop a series of videos to assist with obtaining consent for common dermatologic procedures. The goal of the videos is to improve and standardise the consent process, by delivering quality, consistent information in an accessible format in a cost-and time-effective manner. A pilot study will be performed, with a view to perform a subsequent randomised controlled trial. Outcome measures will include a change in patient knowledge, and patient and physician satisfaction.

Dr Shuichi Suetani

QLD - Doctor in Training

Physical activity has been recognised as a modifiable risk factor that can improve health outcomes in people with psychotic disorder. In order to optimise physical activity in those with psychotic disorders, it is important to have adequate and acceptable measures of the levels of physical activity. The current study aims to find the acceptability of three different measurements estimating physical activity status for people with psychotic disorders.

Dr Christopher Wong

SA - Doctor in Training

In the very heart of Australia is the Central Australian region, covering some 830,000 square kilometres. Delivering effective and timely healthcare to people in this expansive area is challenging. Emerging technologies now offer the potential monitor and manage patients remotely despite the tyranny of distance. This project seeks to explore how these new technologies can assist people with cardiovascular disease who would otherwise need to travel for medical care.

Dr George Stanley Heriot

VIC - Doctor in Training

There is significant practice variation in this area, in ways that do not align with current national guidelines. This project will allow formulation of updated consensus guidelines and will also examine clinicians’' test threshold for echocardiography. This threshold represents the probability of endocarditis below which clinicians are comfortable not performing echocardiography, and is closely linked to the concept of the "acceptable miss rate," a crucial concept for appropriateness criteria.

Dr Elzerie De Jager

QLD - Intern

If you have an elective procedure in an Australian public hospital you have a one in twenty chance of having a postoperative complication. Half of these may be preventable. In an effort to reduce this surgical safety a checklist was introduced in 2009. There are no previous studies in Australia examining the effects of the checklist on reducing complications. This project will examine the effects of this checklist and see if there may be more to surgical safety improvement than ticking checklist boxes.

Dr Wee Loon Ong

VIC - Doctor in Training

There is increasing number of cancer patients who develop brain metastases (BM), due to better systemic therapy controlling extracranial disease. Treatment of BM with whole brain radiotherapy (WBRT) is associated with neurocognitive effect, and there is a gradual shift towards the use of stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) and delaying WBRT. This project aims to evaluate the impact of changes in practice in treatment of BM on the overall survival in a population-based cohort of cancer patients in Victoria.

2016 recipients

Advancement of Medicine category

Full time:

Dr Rahul Muthalaly

VIC - Resident Medical Officer, Advancement of Medicine – Full-time

Electrical malfunctions of the heart are a major cause of deaths worldwide. A new method of preventing these involves using a wire in the heart to reset the electrical circuits. However, this method can be dangerous and expensive. It should only be performed on people who will benefit. The fat surrounding the heart plays a special role in heart function. The research will identify whether the fat around the heart can predict who will benefit from this potentially life-saving procedure.

Dr Genevieve Oliver

SA - Ophthalmology Registrar, Advancement of Medicine – Full-time

Dr Oliver’s research project aims to delineate the molecular interactions between Toxoplasma gondii and human retinal endothelial cells that permit the parasite to enter the retina. It will also determine the susceptibility of different human retinal cells to infection with Dengue virus, Ebola virus and human retinal pigment epithelial cells to promote its persistence within the eye. The research aims to find mechanisms of infection as a first step to develop an effective approach to treatment.

Dr Phoebe Williams

NSW - Paediatrics and Infectious Diseases Registrar, Advancement of Medicine – Full-time

Dr Williams will be working to update the World Health Organisation’s guidelines for the treatment of a number of infectious diseases in children, to ensure they are adapted to reflect current antibiotic resistance patterns; as well as investigating the pharmacokinetic profile of a new therapy to treat clinical sepsis in newborn babies.

Part time:

Dr Pedro Guio Aguilar

VIC - Plastic Surgery Registrar

Functional outcomes of peripheral nerve injury using standard surgical repair alone are poor and limited by the slow regeneration process. There is ample evidence showing that electric stimulation therapy accelerates nerve regeneration. In this trial, patients with median nerve injury will undergo brief low frequency electric stimulation of the nerve after surgery which is expected to reduce the nerve regeneration time.

Dr Joseph Dusseldorp

NSW - Plastics and Reconstructive Surgery Registrar

Facial paralysis has traditionally been treated by “replacing” the function of the injured facial nerve. However, these techniques are rarely able to achieve complete facial symmetry. Our study proposes a paradigm shift, using electrical stimulators to control each branch of the facial nerve and so ‘restoring’ normal facial movements, giving back to patients their self-confidence and normal smile.

Dr Kazauki Negishi

TAS - Cardiology Registrar, Advancement of Medicine

Although air-pollution is widely known to cause lung damage, however, its effect on heart health is greater than its effects on lung diseases or cancers. In this proposal, we will investigate the effect of individual level exposure to outdoor air pollution on heart disease as well as a marker of ageing.


Dr Chris Lim

VIC - Unaccredited Ophthalmology Registrar

Corneal infections can result in irreversible, sight threatening complications if not promptly recognised and treated. However, variations in risk factors, prevalence rates, prevailing microbiota and antibiotic resistance patterns present challenges to standardisation of management and prevention strategies globally. Our research will enhance the understanding of corneal infections; particularly in Asia, and facilitate creation of novel strategies for prevention and management of this condition.

Dr Alexander Olaussen

VIC - Critical Care Resident

Dr Olaussen’s research project aims to improve survival rates amongst bleeding patients. Worldwide, approximately 6,000 bleed to death daily after injury. A key management strategy among such patients is transfusion of blood. Sometimes, ‘blood is not an option’ (BNAO). For instance, Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse blood, whilst some pre-hospital patients cannot access blood. A synthetic agent (SANGUINATE™) may provide a solution. This project will evaluate SANGUINATE in trauma and critically ill BNAO patients, to serve an unmet medical need and ameliorate preventable trauma deaths.

Dr Rochelle Ryan

QLD - Anaesthesia Registrar

In weight reduction surgery, antibiotics are routinely given to patients to prevent infections in the surgical wound. The recommended dose for adults is the same, regardless of weight. This may result in sub-therapeutic tissue concentrations predisposing patients to infections. We aim to determine if the tissue concentration of antibiotics during bariatric surgery is adequate to prevent infections and, if not, the required dose.

Dr Michelle Sun

SA - Ophthalmology Registrar

Dr Sun’s has an excellent research track record. Her project in relation to the scholarship looks at a new way of reconstructing the eyelids, which is most commonly indicated following skin cancer removal. The specialised eyelid tissue called tarsus is extremely difficult to substitute but vital for function. Dr Sun has developed a novel bioengineered tarsus tissue which incorporates the patient’s own cells hopes will improve outcomes for patients.

Dr Susannah Ward

NSW - Rehabilitation Medicine Registrar

Dr Ward received a grant to create a wellness program for interns at the John Hunter Hospital, to help support their health and wellbeing. This research project is accompanied by a pilot study investigating the acceptability and perceived utility of the program by participants to guide further development the program and curate intern orientation and mandatory health professional education sessions.

Quality in Medicine category

Part time:

Dr Emily Fitzpatrick

NSW - Paediatric Registrar

Few publications reflect on the process of community engagement and seeking consent for research with Indigenous people. In response, The Picture Talk Project was initiated with senior Aboriginal leaders of the Fitzroy Valley communities, to investigate how researchers can communicate in a more culturally appropriate and comprehensive way when seeking consent for research.

Dr May Wong

NSW - Physician Registrar

Dr Wong’s research project is a retrospective study into diagnostic errors in malpractice claims in NSW. Malpractice claims have been used to study various error attributes, including the epidemiology of rare adverse events. Analysis of such episodes provides many opportunities for improvement.


Dr Ramy Bishay

NSW - Endocrinology Registrar

Risk factors associated with the development of hypoglycaemia in elderly patients with diabetes is not well studied. We endeavour to undertake a large retrospective analysis of all elderly patients (>75 years) presenting with hypoglycaemia, or who developed hypoglycaemia, as an inpatient at a large tertiary referral hospital in Sydney.

Samuel Davies

NSW - Surgical Registrar

Intra-operative ureteric injury during pelvic operations is a significant cause of patient morbidity, unfavourable surgical outcomes and litigation. We propose that a novel way to highlight the ureter and make it an “out of bounds” area is using electroluminescent (EL) ureteral stents. EL is a new technology and is distinct from black body light emission. This research will prove that EL can be used as a stent, is easy to use, safe and can be commercially viable.

Dr Malcolm Forbes

VIC - Psychiatry Registrar

Over the past two years, nine young doctors have taken their own lives in Australia. Dr Forbes is on a research project to examine one strategy to improve junior doctor’s health as part of their response to recent increased concern within the medical profession. This program aims to improve awareness of workplace stress and what practical measures can be implemented to decrease burnout.

Ammar Kheir

QLD - Gastroenterology Registrar

Dr Kheir’s research is optimising efficiency during colonoscopy reduces waiting times and increases the opportunity for patients to access lifesaving treatment. He has pioneered a SWITCH technique, and his pilot studies indicate polypectomy times may be reduced by up to 50%. This study formally assesses the SWITCH technique in the hands of high volume endoscopists working in a busy tertiary endoscopy centre.

Dr Benjamin Lazarus

QLD - Medical Registrar

Metformin is frequently avoided in diabetes patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) for fear of causing lactic acidosis. However the American FDA guidelines suggest it can be safety used in mild to moderate CKD. The project investigates the relationship between metformin and acidosis and explores the potential benefits that may be available to patients with CKD and diabetes from using this medicine.

Dr Clement Lee

NSW - Anaesthesia Registrar

The aim is to assess quality of care experienced and level of satisfaction for surgical patients in order to identify areas of improvement. A survey will be used to evaluate the anaesthetic and perioperative experience of high risk (ASA 3-4) surgical patients. The questionnaire has 20 questions covering access, information sharing, education and communication; rights and respect; quality and safety; services; conduct of staff; involvement in care decisions.

Dr Felix Ng

QLD - Neurology Registrar

One in six Australian will have a stroke in their lifetime and stroke kills more Australians than breast and prostate cancer. In stroke, the faster effective treatments are given, the higher the chance of a complete recovery. This project aims to develop a new evaluation method that will help hospitals to detect and analyse problems within their systems of care that may delay stroke treatment. With this method, any hospital in the world can self-evaluate their system and ultimately improve the quality of care to stroke patients.

2015 recipients

Advancement of Medicine

Missing media item.

Full time:

Dr Andrew Gauden

TAS - Neurosurgery Trainee

Dr Andrew Gauden is an Intermediate Neurosurgery Trainee at Capital and Coast District Health Board, New Zealand. Originally hailing from Tasmania, he comes from a family of doctors. His research is on vascular targeting in an arteriovenous malformation rat model from Macquarie University. Although early results are promising, ongoing study is needed to demonstrate the association between use of an Annexin V and thrombin conjugate and thrombosis arteriovenous malformation vessels radiologically. This exciting first-of-its-kind study is ongoing.

Dr Shinichiro Sakata

QLD - General Surgery Registrar

Dr Shinichiro Sakata is completing his PhD at the University of Queensland into the impact of 3D imaging on Laparoscopic technical performance and the detection of minimally elevated lesions in colonoscopy. Originally from Japan, Dr Sakata has made many sacrifices to achieve his dream of performing innovative surgery and research. The Avant scholarship has helped him design a 3D Laparoscopic simulation tool, a world first which will be patented. He has many first publications to his name and continues to make significant contributions in his field.

Part time:

Dr Lloyd Reeve-Johnson

QLD - General Practise Registrar

Dr Lloyd Reeve-Johnson received the Avant scholarship in 2015 to complete his research in developing interventions for repairing large bone gaps in trauma and cancer patients. The scholarship has made it a possible for him to build connections particularly in USA and Europe. The initial study demonstrated the viability of medical grade polycaprolactone and calcium phosphates and tissue growth stimulators tibial bone defects in sheep to heal large bone gaps. Dr Lloyd has many publications to his name and is currently working as an Adjunct Professor at the Institute for Health at the University of Sunshine Coast.

Dr Jonathan Kaufman

VIC - Paediatrics advance trainee

Dr Jonathan Kaufman was awarded a scholarship in 2015 for his research project called the Quick-Wee Randomised Controlled Trial. Dr Kaufmann recently presented his study at the Australasian Society of Emergency Medicine National Conference. He was awarded Best Paper by a Trainee and also received Paediatric Trainee Research Award for Excellence at the Victorian RACP Trainee Research Awards. Dr Kaufman has several papers that are being published.

Dr Christopher Rowe

NSW - Endocrinology Trainee

Undertaking clinical research in higher degree is a tremendous challenge for young doctors in training and receiving financial assistance makes a huge difference. Dr Christopher Rowe is no exception, he is extremely thankful to Avant for the opportunity to receive the scholarship and be able to continue his research. His research at the John Hunter Hospital, Mothers and Babies Research Centre, University of Newcastle is in examining proteins and other surface markers on thyroid cancer cells to determine whether they can be used for identifying thyroid cancers only. 'To see how these new technical possibilities can be used and impact cancer patients is exciting,' he said. Dr Rowe's research study has the potential of being one of the largest study of its kind ever undertaken.

Dr Andrea Coleman

QLD - Intern

Funding for research makes a difference for most researchers but for Dr Andrea Coleman it made a significant impact. It helped her purchase expensive equipment for her lab and travel to Brisbane to meet her research team. Dr Coleman's research is in antibiotics to prevent otitis media in Aboriginal children and hopes to 'close the gap'. Dr Coleman says Aboriginal kids in Australia have the worst rate of ear disease in the entire world and the impact is far reaching. Her research study, which is a two phase study, is a novel approach and is already showing promising results.

Grant in aid:

Dr James Aridas

VIC - Intern

Dr James Aridas is one of Avant's 2015 scholarship recipients. Despite being a full-time obstetrician and gynaecologist, he finds time to be a researcher and make a valuable contribution to the field of medicine. Receiving the scholarship has given Dr Aridas an opportunity to share his work with a wider community and his peers without financial pressure. The research project helps newborns who are born without sufficient oxygen, known as asphyxia. Asphyxia in newborns causes one million deaths and leaves another one million children with a permanent disability. Dr Aridas' research project provided an understanding of how brain injury develops and effective treatments were established. Dr Aridas' research is giving children all over the world the greatest opportunity in life.

Dr Abhishek Sharma

QLD - Ophthalmology Trainee

Dr Abhishek Sharma is currently a fellow-in-training in vitreo-retinal surgery at the Toronto Western Sunnybrook Health Sciences in Toronto, Canada. Dr Sharma was awarded the Avant scholarship in 2015 for research into trans-scleral illumination compared with ultrasound biomicroscopy: an analysis of surface landmarks for safe sclerostomy in young children. Dr Sharma works at the Queensland Eye Institute, South Bank Day Hospital and is also a visiting medical officer with the Queensland Health. Dr Sharma is very grateful to Avant for their support during his research making his six-year PhD journey to be completed within the time frame.

Dr Thomas Ward

ACT - Orthopaedic Surgery Trainee

Dr Thomas Ward was awarded a scholarship for his research and work to develop a novel method of using CT and x-ray imaging to measure how the hip moves in a pathological condition such as femoroacetabular impingement. The results were very successful and promise the likelihood of reductions in early hip arthritis post surgery. This novel method of understanding how impingement occurs will lead to improving testing methods and subsequently treatments. The Avant scholarship has not only made it possible for Dr Ward to conduct research but also to present to National and International audiences. He continues to work as a Orthopaedic Registrar at the Canberra Hospital. In addition to his PhD, Dr Ward is a Rhodes scholar.

Dr Kerina Denny

QLD - ICU House Officer

Dr Kerina Denny is a Critical Care Registrar and Associate Lecturer at Queensland Health and the University of Queensland. Dr Denny has authored many publications Nationally and Internationally. She has been the recipient of many grants and scholarships. Her research project is on Sepsis bio-markers in critically ill patients. The outcomes of this research is expected will form the foundation for studies to prospectively assess whether sepsis mRNA (molecules essential in playing the biological role in coding and decoding genes) can be used at the bedside to prevent inappropriate administration of antibiotics in a critical care environment. Dr Denny has won many awards and was awarded Dean's award for excellence at the University. She continues to work hare at research to develop new strategies to prevent neural tube defects.

Dr Jenny Lauschke

NSW - Ophthalmology Trainee

Dr Jenny Lauschke is a very deserving scholarship winner from 2015. The scholarship was awarded for her research in paediatric microbial keratitis. Microbial keratitis is a severe, blinding, yet treatable ocular emergency. It is treated as an emergency due to its rapid progression and in children, although uncommon, it can have a disastrous impact and result in irreversible vision impairment. Dr Lauschke already has 12 publications to her name and was awarded the JMO of the year by the Hunter New England Health Network in 2013. Dr Lauschke was nominated as one of the Registrar of the Year finalists for 2016. She continues to passionately work in research at the John Hunter Hospital.

Dr Sophie Liang


Dr Sophie Liang is a Junior Medical Officer at the Blacktown Mt Druitt Hospital and was awarded a scholarship in 2015. Her research is in the efficacy of continuous wound infusion with local anaesthetic versus placebo for postoperative pain. The research specifically assesses the benefits and harms of infusing a local anaesthetic agent into the wound for pain relief after major abdominal surgery. The results found earlier discharge of patients from hospital is more than likely after infusing local anaesthetics. Dr Liang has successfully published in Cochrane.org and other medical evidence-based journals. She has been awarded the Gilbert Troup Prize for the best oral presentation at the 2015 ASA and NZSA Combined Scientific Congress, National Scientific Congress.

Quality, Safety and Risk Management

Full time:

Dr Laila Ibrahim

VIC - Paediatric Trainee

Dr Laila Ibrahim was awarded a scholarship in 2015. Her research is on Cellulitis – Home or inpatient in Children from Emergency, otherwise known as CHOICE. It has been a randomised trial which hypothesises that children with cellulitis are treated in hospitals unnecessarily. They could be treated at home, reducing infection and getting better results for families and the children. Dr Ibrahim's research is affiliated with the Murdoch Children's Hospital, University of Melbourne and is an Honorary Paediatric Registrar at The Royal Children's Hospital. Dr Ibrahim already has many publications to her name and has presented at national and international conferences. The scholarship has provided Dr Ibrahim a great deal of respect among her peers and senior clinician-researchers. Additionally, it provides her with financial security to be able to focus on her research career, stress free.

Dr Belinda Jackson

VIC - Gastroenterology Trainee

Dr Belinda Jackson is working at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne as a gastroenterologist. She continues to be affiliated with University of Melbourne and Austin Health. Her scholarship was for research of Integrated eHealth Strategy to Optimise outpatient disease and psychological management in Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). IBD is a chronic inflammatory disease of the bowel and is isolated to the large bowel causing major morbidity and adversely affecting quality of life. Participatory health care models such as electronic health 'e-health' technologies of web-based solutions, smartphone apps and telemedicine representation may facilitate and incorporate an element of self-management. Dr Jackson is very grateful for the scholarship, which helped her to present poster events both nationally and internationally. Avant scholarship has been instrumental in bringing international recognition and leadership in eHealth within the IBD field.

Part time:

Dr Clare Whitehead

SA - Obstetrics and Gynaecology Trainee

Dr Clare Whitehead was awarded a scholarship in 2015. She is an academic, trainee obstetrician and gynaecologist at the Royal Women's Hospital and is affiliated with the University of Melbourne. She has many publications to her name, both nationally and internationally, with over 250 citations. Dr Whitehead's research scholarship was awarded for hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, it's management and quality of care. This is a leading cause of maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality worldwide. This project aims to develop guideline-based quality indicators for hypertensive disorders of pregnancy.

Grant in aid:

Dr Sue Sotoodeh Abhary

VIC - Medical Administration Trainee

Dr Sue Abhary has been researching the 'Experiences of doctors in Australian specialty training – a qualitative study of enablers, stressors and supports' since February 2015. This first-of-its-kind study is unique and innovative because it offers the specialists registrars in Australia hope to voice their workplace stressors and provide timely interventions. The study is crucial not only for the doctors suffering psychological anxiety and stress but also for improving medical care given to the patients by these doctors. According to Dr Abhary, 'This has meant so much to me, because for my whole medical career I have watched my fellow training doctors often suffer in silence, and now I can actually do something about it with my professional affiliations with RACMA and the AMA to drive their confidential voices to make change in their working conditions and support services available to them'.

Dr Natasha Pritchard


Dr Natasha Pritchard's research goal is to better understand women's experiences of egg freezing, to inform and improve health care. The data collected from this project will be analysed to then understand what kind of information women want in the future to freeze their eggs, it's risks and benefits. It will also identify strengths and deficiencies in the clinical care provided to these women. Dr Pritchard currently works as a obstetrician and gynaecologist at Mercy Hospital for Women in Melbourne. Receiving the Avant scholarship gave Dr Pritchard a greater opportunity to contribute to research and present at conferences. Dr Pritchard won the Fertility Society of Australia's Best Psychosocial Paper in 2015. She hopes to do a PhD in the field of obstetrics and gynaecology and make a research career to improve healthcare that will be easily accessible to women in Australia.

2014 recipients

Scholarship recipients

Dr Akshat Sexena

NSW - Hepatobil/Oncology

Dr Akshat Saxena is an innovative Sydney doctor working tirelessly to create health initiatives that make life easier for cancer patients. He, along with his fellow doctors, have launched a health app. Dr Saxena received the scholarship in 2014 for his research into novel therapies for metastatic abdominal cancer that improves patient survival rates. Dr Saxena said the Avant scholarship was a life-changing opportunity that transformed his career, 'I will always be indebted to Avant for receiving the scholarship,' he added.

Dr Georgia Kaidonis

SA - Ophthalmology

Dr Georgia Kaidonis has exceeded expectations with her research trials on diabetic macular edema in Indigenous Australians with cataract. The five year population based audit of worst outcomes in diabetic retinopathy that required surgery provided compelling results that the Indigenous Australians were over representated. On the genetic and serum risk biomarkers, Georgia made significant progress in understanding diabetic macular edema with contributions including the first paper to implicate VEGFC in diabetic retinopathy, and the first to implicate specific genetic variation in a microRNA in diabetic macular edema. The paper on VEGFC won best publication by a PhD student at Flinders University last year.

Read more research from Dr Kaidonis on Diabetes and Vascular Disease.

Dr Justin Sherwin

VIC - Opthalmology/epidimiology

Dr Justin Sherwin works for the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital and received the scholarship in 2014. His research is in developing a system to detect ocular sun damage by measuring conjunctival UV auto fluorescence. The Avant scholarship played a key role in fostering this research and his career. Dr Sherwin has 54 publications to his name with a readership of 1,260. He is a member of the University of Cambridge researching in Genetic Epidemiology, Public Health and Ophthalmology.

Dr Lawrence Lau

VIC - Hepotobilary/hepatolgy

Dr Lawrence Lau is from Vancouver, Canada. He completed his Bachelor in Medicine and Surgery at the University of Sydney and was awarded a scholarship in 2014. He considers himself fortunate to have received the scholarship so he can pursue full-time research, a passion that inspires him. His research is in assessing whether an indocycanine green (ICG) clearance test  ̶  commonly used internationally to assess liver function in cirrhotic patients and in patients before major liver resection  can better predict the quality of the donated liver. Receiving a new liver is getting a new lease to life, which Dr Sherwin finds the best part and an amazing feeling.

Dr Melissa Lee

VIC - Paediatrics

Dr Melissa Lee was awarded the Avant Scholarship in 2014 to research the neurohormonal causes leading to hypertension in patients who survived repair for coarctation of the aorta. Originally from Auckland, New Zealand, Dr Lee has been researching at the Royal Melbourne Hospital while working on her PhD part-time. With most scholarships catering to senior and more experienced doctors, junior doctors find it hard to get funding opportunities for research and she is grateful for the opportunity and support. So this has been a great confidence boost bringing her closer to her dream. Dr Lee is finishing her PhD on the outcomes of coarctation of the aorta full-time and is the inaugural part-time Medical Education Registrar at the Department of Medical Education, University of Melbourne. During her full-time PhD year, Dr Lee travelled to the Royal Brompton Hospital in London, UK, to work on an international collaborative study examining late mortality after coarctation repair. She presented at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana USA and will present again in January next year at the Society of Thoracic Surgery annual meeting in Houston, Texas, USA. Dr Lee is returning to full-time clinical work at the Royal Melbourne Hospital as a medical resident in 2017. Her clinical interest is in cardiology, particularly adult congenital heart disease, and she aims to pursue a concurrent academic career in research, teaching and leadership.

Dr Neil Glassford

VIC - Intensive Care

Dr Neil Glassford was awarded the Avant Scholarship in 2014 to research fluid management and it's effect on patient survival. Originally from Scotland he moved to Australia to pursue training opportunities. Dr Glassford works at Austin Health in the Unit of Intensive Care. He has 60 publications to his name so far and 374 citations with 2,490 reads. Neil is extremely grateful for the Avant scholarship as it has enabled him to achieve his academic and professional goals. The scholarship is a validation of the importance of his research.

Dr Peter Manders

NSW - Oncology/melanoma

Dr Peter Manders is was awarded a scholarship in 2014. The scholarship was awarded to Dr Manders for his research towards identifying novel chemotherapy treatments for patients with drug-resistant melanoma of the eye. Dr Manders is working at St Vincent's Hospital at the moment. He continues his research as the principal investigator on highly-active cancer immunotherapy. The Avant scholarship gave Dr Manders the freedom to experiment and conduct research which has resulted in a significant development in the field of personalised oncology.

Dr Rajat Mittal

NSW - Orthopaedics

Dr Rajat Mittal was awarded the Avant scholarship in 2014 for his research analysing whether surgery is superior to non-surgical management in patients with isolated type B ankle fractures. He is currently an associate lecturer at the University of NSW Whitlam Orthopaedic Research Centre (WORC). Dr Mittal is an honorary orthopaedic registrar at the Sydney West Area Health Service. The Avant scholarship allowed him to lead a multi-centre randomised trial involving over 100 orthopaedic surgeons from 22 hospitals.

2013 recipients

Scholarship recipients

Dr Alison Zhang

NSW - Oncology

Dr Alison Zhang is an oncologist, working with the Sydney West Cancer Network. She continues to involve herself with research in the use of metformin in men on hormone therapy for prostrate cancer. Dr Zhang has been an Avant scholarship recipient from 2013.

Dr Andrew Cheng

VIC - Cardiology

Dr Andrew Cheng, was awarded a scholarship in 2013. Now a cardiothoracic surgeon at Barwon Health in Geelong, he has continued his research in cardiology for the primary prevention of arterial fibrillation after cardiac surgery. Dr Cheng has 11 research publications to his name.

Dr Brett Frenkiel

VIC - Plastic and reconstuctive surgery

Dr Brett Frenkiel, awarded a scholarship in 2013, works full-time in sport and exercise medicine. Dr Brett Frenkiel now works as a registrar with the Australasian College of Sport and Exercise Physicians and is the Chief Medical Officer at Sandringham Football Club. He has extensive sports medicine experience having worked with several different sporting teams. He has also been awarded the AFL Doctor's Association AFL Medical Fellowship. Dr Frenkiel's researched the effects of follistatin treatment on reducing the incidence of fibrosis around subcutaneous implants.

Dr Fiona Brownfoot (C/-Uni of Melbourne)

VIC - Obstetrics

Dr Fiona Brownfoot is working in paediatrics, gynaecology and obstetrics. With a Bachelors of Surgery from the University of Melbourne, Dr Brownfoot has 22 widely-read publications to her name. She was awarded the Avant Doctors in Training Research Scholarship in 2013 for her research into a group of drugs used to reduce cholesterol known as pravastatins. These can reduce key markers of preeclampsia in primary human tissues and her research could revolutionise the management of preeclampsia and reduce the associated morbidity and mortality for pregnant women and mothers.

Dr Kevin Liou

NSW - Cardiology

Now working at Randwick Cardiology in Sydney, Dr Kevin Liou was awarded the an Avant scholarship in 2013 for his research on the role of small vessels in a heart muscle injury primarily found during a stenting procedure. His research clarifies the possible mechanisms which predispose or cause dysfunction within these small vessels. Coronary artery disease affects 14 million Australians. Dr Liou's research promises to reach all those patients with this problem and an emerging group with angina secondary to small vessels dysfunction resistant to conventional therapies. Dr Liou's 21 publications have been read by 231 readers.

Dr Marie Sinclair

NSW - Hepatology

Dr Marie Sinclair works at Austin Health, Melbourne. A gastroenterologist with specialist training in internal medicine and hepatology, Dr Sinclair was awarded the Avant Doctors in Training Scholarship in 2013. Her research was in advanced liver disease abnormalities and it's implications. At the moment, Dr Sinclair is a visiting scholar at the University of California, San Francisco.

Dr May Wong

NSW - Nephrology

Dr May Wong was awarded the Avant scholarship in 2013. Her research was on anti-inflammatory agents that limit the progression of chronic kidney disease and diabetic nephropathy. Dr Wong graduated from the University of NSW and is currently working at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital as a registrar completing her PhD. To date, Dr Wong has published two papers, including one review. She has presented six abstracts: two international, two interstate, two local. She was awarded a runner-up in the AMA Doctors-in-Training Junior Medical Officer of the Year Awards and was one of three finalists in the NSW Young Woman of the Year Awards.

Dr Nicole (Nikki) Bart

NSW - Cardio/Pulmonary

Dr Nikki Bart, an honours graduate from the Medical School of UNSW, is presently working as a registrar at St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney. Her research topic was investigating dose and temporal effects of intravenous iron on human cardiopulmonary physiology. Dr Bart is currently finalising her Doctor of Philosophy thesis. She was also a teaching fellow for Green Templeton College in Oxford in the UK. In May 2015 Dr Bart presented a heart lifting and inspiring talk about the journey of women through the medical workforce and barriers young trainees face, at the Medical Women's Society of NSW.

2012 recipients

Scholarship recipients

Dr Arjun Iyer

NSW - Cardiology

While Dr Iyer's colleagues have been perfecting their surgical skills, he has been busy making dead hearts beat again, literally! Along with his colleagues from the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute and St Vincent's Hospital, Dr Arjun Iyer's research has found a way to bring a dead heart back to life, after being extracted from a body that has experienced circulatory death. This amazing breakthrough saves lives by shortening the long waiting lists for heart transplants. At present, Dr Iyer works at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane as a Cardiothoracic Surgery Trainee and is regarded as an excellent holistic healthcare practitioner.

Dr Gulam Khandaker

NSW - Neonatal HSV

Dr Gulam Khandaker is at the University of Sydney specialising in infectious diseases, paediatrics and epidemiology and works at The Children's Hospital Westmead. He is also Co-Director of the Asian Institute of Disability and Development. Gulam already has 63 publications to his name which have been read by over three thousand people. The research funding has enabled him to carry out innovative research on the causes of childhood infections with the goals of reducing premature deaths.

Dr Matthew Roberts

QLD - Urology

Dr Matthew Roberts is part of the research team at the University of Queensland, School of Medicine at Brisbane and an associate lecturer and registrar. His research has brought to light that tailored antimicrobial prophylaxis or treatments given to prevent disease, reduces infections in fluoroquinolone-resistant men. This is particularly helpful with infections causing hospitalisation. He has 43 publications to his name that have been read by over 1,600 people.

Dr Warren Rozen

VIC - Plastics

Dr Warren Rozen is a plastic surgeon at Peninsula Health, Frankston East. Fiercely dedicated to high-quality patient care, Dr Rozen trained in Melbourne and has meticulous surgical skills. Currently an associate professor, Dr Rozen has 314 publications to his name that have been read by over 9,000 people. His speciality and interest is in skin cancer management, reconstruction and hand surgery. Dr Rozen's university affiliations include University of Melbourne, Monash University and James Cook University.

Dr Peter Khong

NSW - Neuro Surgery

Dr Peter Khong was grateful to be awarded an Avant Doctor in Training Research Scholarship, 'it was wonderful to be able to pursue the research for bringing about better outcomes in a cancer that is ninth most prevalent in Australia'. Although gliomas are the ninth most common, it ranks fourth in terms of loss of life. Dr Khong has nine publications which have been read by over 3,000 people. He works as a Neurosurgery Registrar at Sydney's Royal North Shore Hospital and continues his research at Bill Walsh Lab Translational Cancer Research.

I am absolutely delighted and honoured to be the recipient of such a generous and prestigious award. The scholarship has been a major form of support and encouraged me to pursue a research pathway and become a clinician-academic.
Dr Elie Matar
2017 Advancement in Medicine Full-Time scholarship recipient

Dr. Raj Mittal - 2014 Avant scholarship winner


Dr. Peter Manders - 2014 Avant scholarship winner