8 Jun 2017

Win for “Citizen Science”: A/Prof Elliott awarded Commonwealth Health Minister’s Award

Associate Professor Julian Elliott
Congratulations to A/Prof Julian Elliott, who was awarded the prestigious Commonwealth Health Minister’s Award for Excellence in Health and Medical Research 2017 at a ceremony in Melbourne on Thursday night. The medal is bestowed annually to the top-ranked Career Development Fellowship applicant through the National Health and Medical Research Council.

The medal for best application comes with an additional $50,000 research grant to be used by A/Prof Elliott on top of his CDF funding.

A/Prof Elliott is based in Cochrane Australia in the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine and Department of Infectious Diseases at Central Clinical School. His work focusses on building novel systems for translating research into practical healthcare solutions that positively affect patient health and quality of life.

A/Prof Elliott said that doing research is not enough. "We also need to make sure the findings of research translate into action and improved health – but there is now so much research it is hard for anyone to make sense of this ‘data deluge’. My team and our collaborators are developing and evaluating novel health data systems that make sense of health research and accelerate the translation of research into improved, evidence-based health care.”

One such example is Cochrane Crowd, a citizen science platform with over 5,000 members. This platform has demonstrated that given appropriate training, members of the public can accurately identify scientific research papers that can be incorporated into systematic reviews. Such reviews often inform critical government funding and approval decisions so the faster they are produced and updated, the better.

A/Prof Elliott’s work uses strategies such as ‘living’ systematic reviews that are updated every time new, relevant research is released. This utilises text mining, artificial intelligence and novel online software platforms.

The Commonwealth Health Minister’s Award was initiated in 2000. A/Prof Elliott’s application was the top-ranked application of 452 applicants, of which 60 were funded. Monash University submitted 41 applications of which five were funded in total.

A/Prof Elliott said he was incredibly honoured to receive this award given the extraordinary talent and experience of my fellow applicants. "I hope the work arising from it will result in real improvements in the ways research can be translated into better health.”

A/Prof Elliott has over 90 publications including papers in leading scientific journals such as Nature, Lancet and PLOS Medicine. In the last five years he has been a chief investigator on 20 grants totalling over $8 million.

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