Dr Shayne Bellingham, University of Melbourne and Alison Gibberd, University of Sydney both received donations in 2013 as part of the Bellberry donation scheme.

Below is an update on both awards.

Inaugural Bellberry Indigenous Health Fellow

Dr Shayne Bellingham was awarded the inaugural Bellberry Indigenous Health Fellow at the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Melbourne in 2013 to support indigenous research. One year on Dr Bellingham reflects on the impact that the fellowship has made on his ongoing research.

‘The Bellberry Indigenous Health Research Fellowship is a wonderful initiative to support indigenous Australians for a career in medical research. Importantly without such generous support it is more than likely I would not have been able to continue my research career.

The fellowship, thus far, has provided the opportunity for me to expand research skills into animal models of disease for development of clinical diagnostic tests; witness my first PhD student graduate; and consolidate several research papers that will strengthen my NHMRC Project Grant application in the next funding round.

The fellowship has also allowed me to engage with Indigenous leaders within the University of Melbourne and undergraduate students through Ormond College. The Bellberry Indigenous Health Fellowship has also fuelled a passion for me to develop my research career so that it has a direct benefit for indigenous Australians.

Long term, I plan to head my own research team to investigate Alzheimer’s disease and end-stage chronic kidney in the field of early diagnosis and preventative medicine. The prevalence of dementia is 12.4% higher in Indigenous Australians and the incidence rate for end-stage renal disease for Indigenous Australians has more than doubled between 1991 and 2008, from 31 to 76 per 100,000 population. Since “closing the gap” is predicted to increase the life expectancy of Indigenous Australian, then the onset of dementia and development of chronic kidney disease will no doubt have a major cultural impact.

I would like to thank the board of Bellberry Pty Ltd for the opportunities they have afforded me through the establishment of this Fellowship, and to commend them for their philanthropy and support for medical research and Indigenous researchers.’

The University of Sydney

The Bellberry Scholarship in Indigenous Health and Biostatistics was established in 2012 to offer a suitably qualified candidate with a Masters degree in Biostatistics to undertake research studies leading to a PhD in Biostatistics, in the field of Indigenous health. In March 2013, Alison Gibberd was excited to be awarded the inaugural Bellberry Scholarship in Indigenous Health and Biostatistics:

‘For almost 3 years, I worked on a project exploring reasons for poorer survival from cancer and patterns of care for Aboriginal people in NSW. During this period, my interest in Indigenous health was strengthened and I saw the Bellberry Postgradu¬ate Scholarship in Indigenous Health and Biostatistics as a fantastic opportunity to examine interesting questions in an area of great need.

Disparities in the health of Indigenous and non- Indigenous Australians begin at birth, with higher rates of preterm birth, stillbirth and low birth weight in Aboriginal people, and continue across the life course. For my PhD, my supervisors, Judy Simpson and Sandra Eades, and I will investigate relationships between perinatal outcomes and subsequent health throughout the life course, as well as associations across generations, using birth and health data for all Indigenous people born in Western Australia over a 30 year period. I am very grateful to Bellberry Limited for the opportunity to work on this project.’

During her PhD, Alison is being supervised by Professor Judy Simpson and Professor Sandra Eades.
‘The Bellberry Scholarship in Indigenous Health and Biostatistics has enabled us to recruit Alison, an outstanding young biostatistician to work with us to understand intergenerational pathways to poor fetal growth among Aboriginal infants’ – Professor Sandra Eades