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Fighting COVID-19 from North Terrace

40 Under 40

Adelaide Biomed City is proving vital to the state’s response to COVID-19 as key researchers support the state’s leaders, search for a potential vaccine and study the virus’s impact on respiratory infections on the elderly.

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As researchers and medical clinicians contribute their expertise globally, Adelaide Biomed City general manager Yvette van Eenennaam said it showed long-term work to build a world-class health and medical research precinct was paying off.

“It’s all about having these models of collaboration, clinicians working with researchers is really important now,” van Eenennaam said.

Van Eenennaam, one of the judges of InDaily’s 40 Under 40 awards, said Adelaide Biomed City, which groups research, education and clinical care institutions along North Terrace, fosters the relationships and leadership needed for collaboration.

“They need to understand the relationships in the current situation and they need to have access to patient data and current challenges in the hospital to try and find mechanisms to solve that, and they need to be able to conduct clinical trials with patient access,” van Eenennaam said.

Adelaide Biomed City partner the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) is on the frontline of the state’s response.

Its Health Policy Centre led by Professor Caroline Miller is coordinating gathering best evidence to support the SA COVID-19 Taskforce’s response.

Findings on whether to keep schools open and the diagnostic value of loss of taste and smell connected to the virus are among those delivered to the state’s decision makers.

Prof Miller is also working with SA Health, the University of Adelaide’s School of Public Health and the Doherty Institute on the world leading “FFX study”.

This project is measuring the infectiousness and severity of COVID-19 in the First Few days after infection. The aim is to increase understanding of how the virus spreads and its effect on patients and their families.

Free online mental health training is also being led by Joseph Van Agteren from SAHMRI’s Wellbeing and Resilience Centre, renowned for its measurable, evidence-based mental health training.

“We have put in a lot of hard work to set up a precinct and it’s really showing its strength,” van Eenennaam said.

“It’s all about having those models of collaboration, clinicians working collaboratively with researchers is really, really important now.

“We are unique in the way we have co-location of researchers who can walk metres away to the hospital.”

Adelaide Biomed City general Manager Yvette van Eenennaam has joined the judging panel of InDaily’s 40 Under 40 awards.

She said state collaborations ensured researchers were able to avoid duplication, to run clinical trials, access high-tech equipment and jointly apply for funding.

“We are seeing the importance of research, a report in 2018 by the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes showed each dollar invested in health and medical research gives a $3.90 return in health benefits,” van Eenennaam said.

Another important project is focusing on COVID-19’s impact on respiratory infections among the elderly, with data being analysed of viral pneumonia hospitalisations among the residential aged care population from 2013 to 2017.

The SAHMRI-based Registry of Senior Australians (ROSA), led by Associate Professor Maria Inacio, is undertaking the research to inform health departments’ preparations to cope with the suspected increase in elderly patients with viral pneumonia.

It involves examining what specific procedures (eg ventilators or intubations) were needed, where cases escalated to intensive care and why, the average length of hospital stay, rates of readmission and number of deaths.

Van Eenennaam said currently, preventing the spread of COVID-19 is the community’s only defence against the virus and a team led by Dr Johan Verjans is identifying knowledge gaps among the public.

The team is also investigating whether a public health awareness campaign featuring “influencers” such as Adelaide Crows coach Matthew Nicks and Port Adelaide player Hamish Hartlett can be effective in increasing public knowledge.

Dr Amy Keir is part of the team at Adelaide’s Women’s and Children’s Hospital trialling ultraviolet sanitiser in the Neonatal Nurseries.

The aim is to reduce viruses and bacteria on mobile phones and other objects brought into the nurseries by staff and parents.

“If you look at our research and the quality of our research we can be very proud of ourselves,” van Eenennaam said.

Yvette van Eenennaam joined the judging panel of InDaily’s 40 Under 40 awards to help find the young leaders in the health sciences and bring their achievements to the attention of the state.

“The 40 Under 40 Awards will highlight the important work our medical researchers, specialists and entrepreneurs are doing, achievements we all can be very proud of,” van Eenennaam said.

“This work will have positive impacts on our community here in South Australia, nationally and internationally.”

Nominations for this year’s InDaily’s 40 Under 40 are now open.

An assessment panel representing the South Australian business community will judge the nominees against a selection criteria based on their impact within a business, industry or community and how they push the boundaries to go above and beyond the norm.

The awards will then be held at the safest time and place possible.

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