ICU pioneers win GSK Award for Research Excellence 2021

Tuesday, 14 December, 2021

ICU pioneers win GSK Award for Research Excellence 2021

Australian researchers who have transformed the global approach to clinical research and treatment for critically ill patients in intensive care units (ICU) have won the prestigious 2021 GSK Award for Research Excellence — one of the most prestigious awards available to the Australian medical research community. Professor Jamie Cooper AO and Professor Rinaldo Bellomo AO — currently Co-Directors of the Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Research Centre (ANZIC-RC) — won the award in recognition of their innovative research and leadership that has revolutionised critical care medicine on a global scale, including ongoing registries and trials focused on COVID-19 patients in ICU.

Over a 20-year collaboration, the partners’ landmark patient trials have transformed worldwide clinical guidelines, contributed major financial savings to healthcare systems and significantly improved outcomes for patients being treated for critical conditions like sepsis, traumatic brain injury, acute kidney failure and acute respiratory failure. Their focus on multicentric, collaborative, investigator-initiated clinical trials has helped to establish Australia as the epicentre of world-class research in intensive care. The collaborative clinical research process established by Profs Cooper and Bellomo has become the dominant method for clinical research in intensive care, is recognised as best practice and has since been followed by numerous other specialist craft groups.

One of the latest projects being undertaken by the professors’ directorship at the ANZIC-RC is contributing to global understanding of the impact of highly specialised extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) technology in the management of cardiac arrest, severe cardiac failure and respiratory failure, including in COVID-19 patients. ANZIC-RC has established an ongoing registry of Australian patients on ECMO and another registry of COVID-19 patients in ICU, as part of an international strategy to map the importance of this technology for supporting patients when conventional ventilation is not working. This research is significant as data around patient outcomes is central to understanding which patients are best suited to receive this high-resource technology.

While the professors have made a highly productive contribution to critical care medicine, their focus now is on supporting early- and mid-career investigators who are overseeing critical care research like the ECMO study. The $80,000 prize that comes with the GSK Award for Research Excellence will be used to support these emerging researchers at the ANZIC-RC at Monash University.

The award was presented to Profs Cooper and Bellomo at Research Australia’s Health and Medical Research Awards 2021, held last week in Sydney. Dr Alan Paul, Medical Director of GSK Australia, said the company was proud to be able to continue supporting Australian researchers with this award, now in its 41st year.

“The work of Professors Cooper and Bellomo is an outstanding example of how home-grown innovation and collaboration can impact not only the lives of patients around the world, but transform global practice,” Dr Paul said. “We are honoured to recognise their achievements and support research which could underpin further discoveries and better outcomes for patients.”

Image caption: Professor Jamie Cooper AO, GSK Medical Director Dr Alan Paul and Professor Rinaldo Bellomo AO.

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