Bupa Health Foundation grant for suicide prevention researcher

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Dr Jin Han of The Black Dog Institute has been named the 2020 Bupa Health Foundation Emerging Health Researcher.

The Award, which includes a $25,000 grant, will allow Dr Han to further her research into finding new ways to use technology to improve the mental health of young people.

This includes the development of a suicide prevention app LifeBuoy.  

“Mental health is a major issue among young people, particularly due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic," said Dr Han.

"Our research has shown that mental health has worsened for around 75 per cent of young people during this time. We know that they are very comfortable using technology, so ultimately, I’d like to see technology being used to facilitate positive change in the mental health of young people.

“This award will allow me to further some of my early stage ideas that I might not have otherwise been able to progress. I’m super excited and honoured to be named the Bupa Health Foundation Emerging Health Researcher of the Year.”

Professor Samuel Harvey, director of Discovery at the Black Dog Institute, said awards like the one from the Bupa Health Foundation provide much-needed community recognition and support to young researchers.

“Jin is a rising star here at the Black Dog Institute, with her research tackling some of the biggest mental health issues we are facing as a society. More young people than ever are reporting depression and anxiety symptoms. While many see technology as part of the problem, what makes Jin stand out is that she wants to harness that technology to find solutions,” said Professor Harvey.

The Bupa Health Foundation has named an additional four award finalists and five commendations resulting in a total investment of $50,000 in Australia’s brightest health and medical researchers. 

According to Bupa director of clinical governance, Dr Zoe Wainer, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the critical importance of swift and targeted responses to health problems, and the need to support innovations in this field.

“The calibre of this year’s 110 nominees was incredibly high and is a testament to the health and medical research talent we have in Australia. Our finalists span across a range of important health research areas and have shown exceptional talent, dedication and persistence in their research careers, while ensuring their research leads to tangible improvements in the health of the Australian community,” said Dr Wainer.

“We are yet to see the full mental health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and new innovations such as Dr Han’s LifeBuoy app will be critical in helping to support many young Australians through this difficult period.”

This year’s Bupa Emerging Health Researcher finalists, who will each receive a $5,000 grant, are:

  • Dr Amanda Gwee from Murdoch Children’s Research Institute for her work in improving the use of antibiotics to treat serious infections in Australian Children;
  • Dr Alice Grady from the University of Newcastle for her research into preventing childhood obesity;
  • Dr Eduardo Albornoz Balmaceda from the University of Queensland who is identifying new drug therapies for treating neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s; and, 
  • Dr Alexandra Jones from The George Institute for Global Health for her work informing best-practice policy action to improve food environments which impact the health of the community.

Dr Calos Garcia Esperon from John Hunter Hospital, Dr Jake Linadon from Deakin University, Dr Kiah Evans from Telethon Institute, Dr Lana McClements from University of Technology and Dr Joyce Siette from Macquarie University all received commendations and will receive a $1,000 grant each.