Wagadagam woman’s health research leadership recognised

The transformative and life saving work of internationally recognised kidney researcher and clinician, Flinders University Professor Jaquelyne Hughes, has been recognised with a prestigious Lowitja Research Institute Cranlana leadership award.

The proud Goemulgal ipeka (woman) of the Wagadagam people from Mabuyag Island has dedicated her career to advancing kidney health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who are five times more likely to develop kidney disease and four times more likely to die from it than the rest of the population.

A Matthew Flinders Professor and inaugural Clinical Research Professor for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Advancement at Flinders University in Darwin, Professor Hughes is a specialist nephrologist, with experience in chronic kidney disease, dialysis and health systems research and innovation.

Joint Lowitja Cranlana Award for Outstanding Research Leadership winner Professor Jaquelyne Hughes

With a career spanning more than two decades, Professor Hughes is a champion of a new frontier in medicine that prioritises cultural and holistic knowledge as well as the clinical strengths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical professionals.

Vice President and Executive Dean of the College of Medicine and Public Health Professor Jonathan Craig says the Cranlana award is a singular honour of which Professor Hughes is unreservedly deserving.

‘Professor Hughes exemplifies research excellence and the power of innovation – of truly engaging with community, listening to their needs, responding to their priorities, and applying her clinical and research skills through a cultural lens to transform health care, how it’s delivered, and how it’s received.

‘As a result of her efforts, many hundreds of lives have been saved and improved, and that will grow to many thousands as her methods take hold and extend across Australia.

‘A core member of Flinders University’s Rural and Remote Health team contributing to our long established and expanding health and medical research capabilities in the Northern Territory, Jaqui is the essence of an inspirational leader, and we are incredibly proud to see her talent acknowledged through this important award,’ Professor Craig says.

Professor Hughes accepts her award

Professor Hughes says she’s honoured to accept the award, which she dedicates to community.

‘The work I do is only possible with the support and leadership of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities – it is truly hand in hand that we are changing the health system for the better to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are receiving health care which addresses their whole being. Through this way of working, we know that clinical care is more effective when it incorporates cultural considerations. Because of communities we also know that care is more clinically and culturally effective when delivered by an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander professional.

‘The opportunity created by the Cranlana Award delivers a wider international dimension to my research, enables deeper work with my own community in the Torres Strait, and further empowers advances that I may shape in driving overall health, cultural health and kidney health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,’ Professor Hughes says.

‘I thank the Lowitja Research Institute for their important and enduring support for research that is making a difference.’

Reflecting the substantial, transformative, and enduring impact of Professor Hughes’ work, the honour has been presented at the 3rd international Indigenous Health and Wellbeing conference, a biennial event hosted by the Lowitja Institute, this year being held on the lands of the Gimuy-walubarra Yidi peoples in Cairns.

Recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research leadership and excellence, the Cranlana award includes a fully funded position in the Cranlana Programme’s Executive Colloquium – an intensive six-day course designed to allow senior leaders to develop complex decision-making and leadership capabilities – and includes travel and accommodation.

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