It has been an exciting week with the final presentations and judging of the ANU Grand Challenges Scheme! Firstly, I would like to thank all researchers who enthusiastically engaged in the scheme and came up with a range of fascinating research questions for consideration. The judges had an exceptionally tough decision to decide on the winner from the three teams who made it the finals.
I am delighted to announce the winner of the inaugural Grand Challenges Scheme is the project, Your Health in Your Hands: Future Personalised Medical Technologies for a Sustainable and Effective Healthcare.
This project aims to revolutionise personalised medicine through wearable sensor technologies with genomics, tailored to individual need, irrespective of geographical location or social circumstances, to ensure that healthcare can be provided equally and effectively.
The unprecedented technological and medical achievements of the 20th century have significantly contributed to improve our quality of life, yet inequality in healthcare is one of the major challenges for our time.
In many cases, the current standard of care is a "one size fits all" model, but this personalised medicine model promises to revolutionise our understanding of health.
It will enable people to get a holistic picture of their health, prevent the development of disease, or monitor and better manage an existing condition. This multi-staged approach includes developing wearable technologies to monitor the onset of disease, identifying key mechanisms of the disease through genome sequencing, and analysing big data sets to detect disease early and provide new insights into their mechanism. They aim to enable patients to treat and manage disease through personalised treatment programs.
What is truly remarkable about this project is its capacity to assist people living in vulnerable communities, in rural and remote locations who often have the highest rates of disease. Through wearable sensors monitoring, for example, breath and sweat ANU researchers will be able to tackle these diseases head on before they become expensive to treat - thereby improving the lives of many.
The project team will start by focusing on two global health priorities - diabetes and multiple sclerosis. Ultimately, this research could be applied to other critical diseases like asthma and cancer.
One of the aims of the Grand Challenges Scheme is to see greater levels of collaboration across the University and I am really pleased this project has already brought together researchers from five ANU colleges.
I congratulate Associate Professor Antonio Tricoli, Professor Matthew Cook, Dr Jane Desborough, Dr Anne Bruestle, Professor Ted Maddess, Dr Hanna Suominen, Associate Professor Christine Phillips, Professor Dragomir Neshev, and collaborators, for being awarded the very first ANU Grand Challenge Project and wish them all the best on their research over the next five years.
I also extend my thanks and congratulations to everyone involved across the University community who contributed to the Grand Challenges Scheme and make special mention of the other two finalists - Zero Carbon Energy for the Asia Pacific and Living Fluids: Understanding collective behaviour for bio-inspired engineering. We will be working with these teams to provide support to ensure the excellent work and momentum on these projects continues. Presentations from all three finalists are available on the ANUTV channel.
Finally, for those projects that did not make the final, there are some great and exciting ideas which we also need to support and grow. Don't stop if you are excited about what you have started!
This has been a terrific demonstration of what we can achieve when we work together to translate the extraordinary research that happens at ANU.