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World-first cervical cancer research supported by St John of God Subiaco Hospital


Dr Aime Powell (left) will be supervised by Dr Paul Cohen to conduct “world first” cervical cancer research supported by St John of God Subiaco Hospital in WA. Photo: Supplied.

A researcher whose work is funded by St John of God Subiaco Hospital has won a prestigious national Fellowship for her research into cervical cancer screening.

Dr Aime Powell, who is currently employed by The Institute of Health Research, University of Notre Dame and is funded by St John of God Hospital Subiaco as an Early Career Postdoctoral Research Fellow, was named this year’s recipient of the Australian Gynaecological Cancer Foundation’s highly competitive Cindy Sullivan Fellowship.

Dr Powell’s research will look at the impact of the WA Cervical Screening Program and the National HPV Vaccination Program on Aboriginal women’s health outcomes.

Aboriginal women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with cervical cancer and four times more likely to die from the disease when compared to non-Aboriginal women.

Professor Shirley Bowen, St John of God Subiaco Hospital Chief Executive, said Dr Powell’s work is important in contributing to closing the gap in health outcomes for Indigenous Australians, particularly for women.

“I am delighted that Dr Powell’s work has been recognised by the Australian Gynaecological Cancer Foundation as it is important on so many levels,” Prof Bowen said.

“This is a world-first study that will have tangible implications for women across Australia, and importantly, for our Indigenous population.

“It is also pleasing to see this coveted research fellowship going to an early career researcher. Women’s health is an important focus area for St John of God Subiaco Hospital and we are proud to support early career researchers like Dr Powell.”

Dr Paul Cohen, Director of the Gynaecological Cancer Research Group at St John of God Subiaco Hospital, will be supervising Dr Powell in her research.

Dr Powell’s research will analyse linked data from the National HPV Vaccination Register, Cervical Screening Registry of WA, Australian Cancer Database and the Death Registry, as well as gather qualitative data, to identify why Aboriginal women continue to experience poor health outcomes in cervical cancer and to provide some new insights to address this major health issue.

“We will be drawing on the unique and extensive expertise of a multidisciplinary team that consists of clinicians, biostatisticians, Aboriginal Health Promotion workers, an Aboriginal Women’s Reference Group and health policy makers, to undertake a study that we believe will be a world first.

“We all feel very privileged to undertake this work in the memory of Cindy Sullivan and the Australian Gynaecological Cancer Foundation (for whom Ms Sullivan was a long-time supporter and fundraiser),” Dr Powell added.

“Gynaecological oncology is an under-funded area of research and as an early career researcher it’s incredibly difficult to get funding, so I am extremely grateful to St John of God Subiaco for supporting my work with the University of Notre Dame Australia.”

The two-year fellowship allows payment of a stipend to the value of $100,000 per year plus an additional $10,000 per year for research support.