Betty McGrath Fellowship Recipients

Congratulations to Dr Catherine Franklin and Dr Sinead Barry who have been announced as the next Betty McGrath Fellowship recipients.

The Betty McGrath Fellowship Scheme is a joint initiative of Mater Health, Mater Research and Mater Foundation and is designed to support improved evidence-based clinical practice at Mater.

The Fellowship enables practicing clinicians or other health professionals to increase their research activity by providing salary support to back-fill their clinical positions.

Dr Catherine Franklin from the Mater Young Adult Health Centre has been awarded funding to assist her research project “Understanding Acute Regression in Adolescents and Young Adults with Down Syndrome.”

“In some cases of patients with Down Syndrome they go from being happy, healthy, active people to a complete regression in a matter of weeks where they can no longer feed or dress themselves,” Dr Franklin said.

“We do not know what causes this and it is very distressing to both the patient and their families. Unfortunately this is a very underfunded and unexplored area of research.

“I am hoping this research will give us a better understanding of people with Down Syndrome and their complex health needs and inevitably provide them and their families with answers to why they regress.”

Dr Sinead Barry from Obstetrics and Gynaecology will be exploring “Phase III Randomized clinical trial for stage III ovarian carcinoma randomizing between primary cytoreductive surgery with or without hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy”.

“Over 75% of patients with ovarian cancer have advanced disease which has spread beyond the ovaries to the abdominal cavity. Standard therapy for advanced disease involves surgery followed by six cycles of intravenous chemotherapy,” Dr Barry said.

“Despite the known survival benefit of post-operative intraperitoneal (IP) chemotherapy, the high toxicity rates and limited access have not been acceptable, in our patients.

“Therefore administering chemotherapy into the abdominal cavity directly treats the microscopic disease that cannot be seen or removed during surgery. This method also increases the penetration of chemotherapy at the peritoneal surface and it has a direct cytotoxic effect on tumour cells.”

The Betty McGrath grant will assist Dr Barry to continue her research over the next five years and collaborate with researchers in the Netherlands to include more patients.

“This grant was critical in moving our research forward, I am hoping we move forward to see improvements in survival of patients with ovarian cancer and reduction in tumours reoccurring,” Dr Barry said.

We wish our recipients all the best with their research endeavours.

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