Inner Wheel Foundation: Successful Science

Hudson Institute

Collaborations are a vital part of successful science, whether they are researchers from different backgrounds creating a synergy greater than the sum of its parts, or the connection between funders and the work they support.

A collaboration that goes back further than Hudson Institute’s 10 year history is the one we are lucky to share with Inner Wheel, which is one of the largest voluntary women’s service organisations in the world.

Of particular interest to Inner Wheel in Australia is the research being done at Hudson Institute on the use of umbilical cord blood to prevent and treat the brain injuries that can commonly affect very preterm babies.

Inner Wheel – long and fruitful relationship

Dr Courtney McDonald
Dr Courtney McDonald

Inner Wheel has had a long relationship with veteran neuroprotection specialist, Professor Graham Jenkin, and, in more recent years, with stem cell biologist, Dr Courtney McDonald, who researches stem cell therapies that reduce brain inflammation (neuroinflammation) and brain injury in vulnerable newborns, which can lead to conditions such as cerebral palsy.

Dr McDonald says the passion that Inner Wheel members have for fundraising for research into umbilical cord blood is truly inspiring.

“Inner Wheel’s continued support of our cord blood research for over 10 years has led to multiple large NHMRC and MRFF grants, making it possible to take our early preclinical findings all the way through to clinical trials,” she said.

Successful science – benefits beyond research

And the benefits go beyond the research itself: “Personally, it has also allowed me to establish my own independent research team; I am very grateful for their dedicated fundraising efforts,” Dr McDonald said.

Dr Courtney McDonald speaks about her research to Inner Wheel members in her lab and successful science
Dr Courtney McDonald speaks about her research to members in her laboratory.

The Inner Wheel groups based in Wangaratta, Wodonga, Bundoora and Narre Warren have perhaps the closest connection with Hudson Institute work; they have been visiting the Institute – and before that at the Monash and Prince Henry’s Institutes – for more than a decade.

Their latest visit gave them a chance to tour our labs and hear about the latest research from Dr McDonald and her colleagues, including Dr Tayla Penny, another beneficiary of Inner Wheel funding.

Members from Inner Wheel Wangaratta, Wodonga, Bundoora and Narre Warren also enjoyed the opportunity to catch up with their old friend Prof Jenkin, whose welcome was as warm as ever.

This is one scientific collaboration that has proved to be extremely fruitful, and, thanks to Inner Wheel, thousands of babies will grow into healthier, more productive adults as a direct result.

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