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Health Beyond Research & Innovation Showcase 2019

One thousand and eighty people descended on the William Inglis Hotel on 5th and 6th June 2019 to listen to a myriad of presentations ranging from cannabinoid use in the treatment of chronic pain to building healthy airports.

In its 14th year, the Health Beyond Research and Innovation Showcase 2019 promised to be bigger and better than ever before, and with over 100 presentations including eight keynote speakers, the showcase definitely lived up to its promise.

Kicking off the keynote presentations on Day 1 was Professor Iain McGregor, Academic Director, Lambert Initiative, University of Sydney, who immersed participants into the world of medicinal cannabis use for a range of conditions including childhood epilepsy as well as in the reduction of insomnia.

The theme was continued with Professor Paul Glare, University of Sydney who provided food for thought into cannabinoid use for chronic pain.
“More than 100,000 people in the community self-medicate with elicit cannabis,” Professor Glare explained, justifying the importance of medicinal cannabis research.

Professor Meera Agar, Clinical Trials Director SWSLHD, followed with her presentation on cannabinoid clinical trials to improve appetite in palliative care patients. Driven to provide a high standard of care, Professor Agar noted the importance of research, “We have one chance to get it right in clinical trials in palliative care.”

Concurrent sessions and workshops on the first day offered participants a broad range of topics across disciplines including mental health, allied health, cancer, discovery research and innovation, drug and alcohol, nursing and midwifery.

Participants learnt about microbiome dynamics in inflammatory bowel diseases, were walked through physiotherapy-led interventions research and discovered fascinating information about a new bank that stores, not money, but blood clots!

The heavy rain and cold conditions did nothing to dampen the spirits of participants who mingled with their colleagues during morning tea, lunch and at the networking session, enjoying delicious food and an assortment of drinks.

With Day One deemed a success, expectations were high for Day Two and, once again, participants were not disappointed. A new range of topics based on the idea of designing cities, airports and health precincts challenged participants to look beyond the traditional notions of health.

Delving into issues of mental health, Commissioner of the National Mental Health Commission, Ms Lucy Brogden, explored the topic of disease prevention through city planning with a focus on sustainable cities and communities, while Professor Evelyne De Leeuw, Director of CHETRE, made credible the idea of building a healthy airport. However, she noted that such an airport required extensive planning and should be “responsive to the unique character and composition of the people and communities that live around and engage with the airport.”

Professor Donald McNeill, Professor of Urban and Cultural Geography at Western Sydney University continued the theme with his talk on health innovation precincts providing insights into the future of Liverpool as such a precinct.

With Olympian Jana Pittman’s entry onto the stage, participants were invited to become world champion athletes themselves. Through her clever use of storytelling and visualisation as well as a narrated virtual ride on a bobsled, the audience got to experience the emotion, the joy and the pain that is Jana’s life-story.

Just like the first day, participants had a plethora of options to choose from in the concurrent sessions and workshops. A broad spectrum of disciplines was once again represented with information on both clinical research and community-based research on offer.

The last keynote speaker of the day, Dr Alice Motion, Chemist and Science Communicator based at The University of Sydney, shared her program which involves teaching “young people to make molecules that matter.” With her work with young people, Dr Motion was an excellent choice to present the winners of the Ingham Institute’s Schools Science Poster Competition.

Students dazzled the audience with presentations of their scientific research ranging from an investigation into the efficacy of essential oils in killing bacteria to an in-depth physics and mathematical exploration of the photoelectric effect. Congratulations to Hannah Penfold, Patrick Cushway, Conrad Petrovic, Neha Singh and Rania Aziz who, no doubt, have a promising future in scientific research.

The 2019 showcase was more than just a series of presentations. Indeed, the showcase was an exploration of the great scientific minds that make up our local health district and its success is testament to the hard work of SWSLHD and the Ingham Institute.

Next year’s Showcase has been confirmed for the 3rd and 4th June 2020, so please SAVE THE DATE! More information about this and next year’s events will be posted on the website soon. In the meantime, if you attended the Showcase this year and have not yet provided your valuable feedback, please do so online for Day 1 and Day 2.

By Linda Music