Young tall poppies in remote health honoured

  • Dr Hayley Letson.
    Dr Hayley Letson.
  • Dr Yaqoot Fatima.
    Dr Yaqoot Fatima.
James Cook University
Emma Chadwick,
Media and Communications Officer, Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine

A commitment to advancing emergency medicine on the battlefield and exploring the links between sleep and health has seen two North Queensland scientists take out top honours.

Research Fellows from the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine at James Cook University, Dr Hayley Letson and Dr Yaqoot Fatima, have both received the prestigious Young Tall Poppy Award which recognises and celebrates Australian intellectual and scientific excellence of outstanding achievers.

Hayley is a senior researcher in the Heart and Trauma Research Laboratory in the College of Medicine and Dentistry and says she was humbled to receive the award, which recognised her work in remote health, trauma resuscitation and emergency medicine.

’My team and I have been working on the development of a novel intravenous drug therapy called ALM (adenosine, lidocaine and Mg2+) that stops bleeding, and stabilises the heart and body.

‘We are currently developing the new IV therapy for the battlefield with support from the US military, but it also has potential applications in regional, rural and remote civilian environments when there may be long delays to definitive care in hospital.

‘Living in North Queensland, I also recognised the similarities between battlefield medicine and emergency care in the pre-hospital environment in regional, rural and remote areas.’

According to Hayley, bleeding is responsible for up to 40 per cent of all trauma deaths, and up to half of these deaths occur before the patient reaches hospital.

‘My end goal is to have ALM therapy in every soldier’s backpack, in ambulances, in LifeFlight rescue helicopters and Royal Flying Doctor Service planes, in rural medical centres, and in medical kits on remote stations, so that first responders can resuscitate and stabilise injured and bleeding patients and give them a fighting chance.’

Yaqoot is a senior research fellow at the Murtupuni Centre for Rural and Remote Health in Mount Isa and says she felt extremely honoured to be named in the awards, which recognised her advocacy and research to empower people for embracing sleep health, and improve access to specialist sleep services in rural, remote and Indigenous Australian communities.

‘The inherently modifiable nature of sleep, and untapped potential of sleep health to improve overall health and wellbeing, drew me to sleep health research.

‘There has been a significant increase in the prevalence of poor sleep over the years. Unfortunately, many sleep problems remain undiagnosed and untreated due to the lack of awareness and appropriate services, resulting in a range of physical and mental health problems.

’Through sleep health improvement, we can bring positive changes in community health, wellbeing and productivity, and significantly reduce the future burden of chronic conditions and mental health issues.’

Hayley says that budding scientists need only to have a curiosity about the world or its inhabitants to succeed. ‘Without science there would be no medicine, no technology, and no awareness of our environment. Science is a wonderful and rewarding endeavour but requires persistence and determination.’

Yaqoot also encouraged young scientists to ask the right questions in their quest for greater knowledge. ‘Great ideas and solutions come from great questions, so spend some time identifying the question or defining the problem before rushing to find the answers.’

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