Strengthening health outcomes in the community

13 April 2022

Boosting medical research and training the next generation of Indigenous health professionals is the goal of the partnership between The Australian National University (ANU) and the Canberra-based John James Foundation. The Foundation supports talented ANU students and researchers through a Medical Research Scholarship, a Medical School Scholarship for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, and the Tony Ayers Prize.

The Foundation's mission is to strengthen health outcomes in the community by improving the doctor and patient experience. Education provides the upstream basis that enables us to achieve this goal now and into the future. The sharing of knowledge and experience that leads to better medical interventions and outcomes is the raison d'etre of the Foundation,

- Professor Paul Smith, Chair of the John James Foundation.

By building Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical students into highly capable health professionals, the partnership is improving the face of healthcare in Indigenous communities.

Lucas Bachmann, 2021 John James Foundation Medical School Scholarship for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Students recipient, is one of the next generation of Indigenous health professionals.

"Being awarded this scholarship has helped me begin to realise my medicine dream," says Lucas, "I want to help other Indigenous Australians improve their health, and their family's health, through being a doctor that brings culturally appropriate, good healthcare to the Indigenous members of the communities.

"Ultimately, this goal would not be possible for me to pursue without the scholarship provided by the John James Foundation, and as such I owe my future medical career to the generous support I am being provided."

In 2021, the Foundation's support became integral in the fight against Covid-19. Professor Philip Batterham won the Foundation's 2021 Tony Ayers Prize for Excellence in Research and Translational Medicine, in recognition of his research into online mental health tools. Philip's research provides crucial insights into treating depression and anxiety - a vital contribution to the pandemic healthcare response.

"There are definite advantages to online interventions. They are available 24/7, you can dip in and out of them to get what you need, and you can access them in between sessions with a psychologist or where there is limited access to services. There is also evidence to suggest a preventative effect as well," says Professor Batterman.

The Foundation's Medical Research Scholarship aided in producing critical research during the Covid-19 crisis. Scholarship recipients explored the efficacy of vaccines in cancer patients and investigated the risk of developing blood clots for people immunised with the AstraZeneca vaccine.

"The knowledge gained from this study will be an important part of protecting vulnerable populations during the pandemic," says Dr Yada Kanjanapan, ANU Clinical Senior Lecturer and Medical Oncologist at The Canberra Hospital. "It could help inform future vaccination programs, including the design of booster vaccine programs for immunocompromised patients."

Through their committed partnership of 20 years, the John James Foundation and ANU continue to work together to improve the face of healthcare by facilitating research and educational opportunities that change lives.

This impact story is a feature in the 2021 Report to Donors

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