The Australian Health Research Alliance (AHRA) has awarded grants of up to $15,000 to the women in the early and mid-stages of their careers to engage, train and connect with other women in women’s health research and translation.

The Deputy Chair of AHRA’s Women’s Health Research, Translation and Impact Network (WHRTN), Professor Debbie Loxton, says the WHRTN Awards are particularly timely in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The pandemic has seen women hit hard on many fronts, who are juggling the burdens of working from home whilst often shouldering the main load of home-schooling and caring responsibilities, alongside greater job uncertainty from casual and part-time roles,” said Professor Loxton. “This has impacted on career progress especially in academia and in early to mid-career stages.”

The WHRTN Awards were open to women in the early and mid-stages of their research careers working in women’s health and affiliated with Sydney Health Partners (SHP) or one of the other nine research translation centres that comprise AHRA.

Award recipient Dr Phoebe Williams, who is a consultant paediatrician at the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network and lecturer at the University of Sydney, will use her grant to investigate the causes of serious infections in newborn babies in low and middle-income countries.

“As a mother of four children juggling an early research career with clinical commitments as a paediatrician and infectious diseases physician, I am enormously grateful for the support provided by this award. It will enable research support to establish key data seeking to improve the health of infants in under-resourced countries,” she said.

Aboriginal Research Fellow at the George Institute for Global Health, Julieann Coombes, will use her grant to develop cultural resources to assist Aboriginal mothers whose children have been admitted to hospital. She says the funding will help her support others in their research journeys, as well as developing her own skills.

“The generous support of this award will provide me the opportunity to further build my research skills, including mentoring of other Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander women researchers.”

“This opportunity will also assist in my own career development including building my research team management and leadership skills and working alongside other strong Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander female researchers in honing my own Indigenous research methodology skills,” she said.

“Importantly, this award will allow me to partner with Aboriginal community members improving the health and well-being of mothers whose children have sustained a burn injury and have been admitted to hospital.”

Anna Singleton, an early career researcher and PhD candidate from the University of Sydney, is working on a project that tests new ways to support women's mental abd heart health after cancer treatment by delivering support directly to their mobile phones

"My hope is to lower women’s risks of cancer returning and future heart disease, so they can live long and happy lives. I am so grateful that AHRA WHRTN is helping my team and I achieve these goals," she said.

More than 300 women around Australia applied for the WHRTN Awards.

AHRA’s WHRTN Steering Committee Chair, Professor Helena Teede, says the strong response to the awards is a testament to the identified need to provide more opportunities to women working in women’s health research.

“These awards will provide much-needed funding to bolster the careers and further advance research that improves the health of all women in Australia,” she said.

WHRTN is a national collaboration across community, health services and academic institutions set to boost national and international collaboration on women’s health, build health workforce capacity, develop leaders in women’s health, and advance research and translation to deliver impact and better health for Australian women.

Full list of Sydney Health Partners recipients:

For more information, and the national list of AHRA WHRTN Awards recipients, visit the AHRA website.