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29 April 2021

James Cook University’s Cohort Doctoral Studies Program, which supports and promotes North Queensland’s future health and medical researchers, has been recognised at a national award ceremony.

The recognition comes as the Program, which aligns with the National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) call for high impact, industry-relevant research, celebrates its 10 year anniversary.

Under the guidance of Associate Professor Melissa Crowe, the Cohort, the research education arm of the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine, has become a thriving professional development program, supporting 135 Higher Degree Research candidates in 2021.

The program has 88 completions, including 63 HDR graduates and 25 research pathway graduates such as the Graduate Certificate of Research Methods.

The Australian Council of Graduate Research this week named Associate Professor Crowe in a Special Commendation for `Excellence in Industry Engagement in Graduate Research’ at its 2021 awards ceremony on April 29.

Australian Council of Graduate Research executive director Fiona Zammit said Associate Professor Crowe, who has led the Cohort program for nearly 10 years, showed `vision and leadership of this outstanding program’.

“Each year, winners are recognised for their personalised and adaptive approach to supervision and leadership across large and diverse academic units and their focus on engagement with industry on real world problems,” Ms Zammit said.

“Melissa is recognised for her leadership of the Cohort Doctoral Studies Program in the Division of Tropical Health and Medicine, and how the program enables industry-relevant research ideas to be brought to fruition with the potential for the outcomes to be translated into practice, changing patient care, and health policy.”

Associate Professor Crowe said James Cook University’s Cohort Doctoral Studies Program was one of the first of its kind in Australia.

“Candidates come with many years of experience from diverse backgrounds and discipline areas including working professionals in physiotherapy, exercise physiology, psychology, psychiatry, obstetrics gynaecology, emergency medicine, para-medicine, occupational therapy, dentistry, periodontics, social work, speech pathology , nursing and midwifery, mental health, pharmacy, pathology, infectious diseases, oncology and gerontology,” she said.

“Up to 70 per cent of Cohort Program candidates are working health and medical professionals, many tracking to leadership roles, delivering high impact research outcomes.

“These future researchers learn leadership in working successfully with advisory and stakeholder groups, in research design, research conduct and ethics, data management and analysis and research communication. They benefit from wide professional networks and peer support generated within the Cohort community.”

JCU Dean of Graduate Research Christine Bruce said the Program was a success in the way it was delivered, its low attrition rate, and the way it engaged industry.

“The Cohort Program will continue to be one of the important underlying structures to support the research activity within private and public health systems and other areas of industry, and to achieve its aim of graduating leaders in research, diagnostics, and medical excellence in tropical medicine.” 

Associate Professor Crowe said the PhD cohort program had been made possible by the generous funding from the Roderick Trust since its inception, and she acknowledged the positive team environment created by Cohort staff including Diana Mendez, Meryl Churchill, Sandip Kamath, Karen Cheer, and Christine Teitzel.


Photo: The Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine’s Cohort Leader Associate Professor Melissa Crowe with Cohort mentors Associate Professor Meryl Churchill and Christine Teitzel.

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