A Griffith University senior postdoctoral research fellow is among five talented Australian researchers who have been recognised for their inventive work by theBupa Health Foundation.

Dr Johana Paola Tello Velasquez, of the Eskitis Institute for Drug Discovery, has been awarded $5000 as part of Bupa’s annual Emerging Health Researcher Awards.

PhotoEditor-1479349780901 (1)The Foundation’s purpose is to support the role that research plays in improving the delivery and efficiency of our health system, as well as improving sustainable quality of life.

Johanais an emerging innovator in neuroscience who is preparing for an upcoming trial that aims to repair spinal cord injuries; a devastating condition that currently has no effective treatment.

With more than 12,000 Australians currently living with spinal cord injury, the total economic cost in Australia is $2 billion annually.

The upcoming trial follows recent exciting results — including successful restoration of partial function in a human — that indicate we are on the verge of a life-changing discovery.

The trial will involve transplanting olfactory ensheathing cells taken from a patient’s nose into their injured spinal cord, to promote repair and regeneration. Dr Velasquez will provide intellectual input in preparation for the clinical trial as part of a large team of experts.

Bupa Health Foundation Executive Leader Annette Schmiede said the Awards support the bright future of Australia’s health researchers to become global leaders.

“Australia has a proud history of pioneering and life-changing health science and research,” Ms Schmiede said.

“Supporting and funding emerging researchers is vital to our country remaining a leader in the field of health research. If we want to protect and enhance that reputation it’s critical that we nurture these skills and expertise.

“We want to keep encouraging our Australian researchers to think big and make discoveries that can change the health landscape.

“Young researchers in particular need a stable working environment to reach their potential, and the Bupa Health Foundation’s funding helps to deliver this support.

“Our 2016 Emerging Researcher Awards finalists have already made significant contributions that have been recognised at home and globally.

“I congratulate them on their achievements and work so far, and look forward to watching their potential progress our society’s health and future,” Ms Schmiede said.

The Bupa Health Foundation has invested more than $29 million to support over 100 projects to improve the health and wellbeing of Australians since its establishment in 2005.

More information about the Bupa Health Foundation 2016 Emerging Health Researcher Awards can be found at www.bupa.com.au/foundation.