These past two months have been busy for the future leaders of Australian type 1 diabetes (T1D) research, with one group of the JDRF/Macquarie Group Foundation Future Research Leaders Program (FRLP) finishing up their leadership skills workshops for the year, and another group just beginning.

An initiative of JDRF and principally supported by the Macquarie Group Foundation, this Program supports researchers in the early-mid stages of their careers to develop leadership potential and increase the success rate of securing funding. This will ensure the momentum of T1D research continues into the future.

Growing the skills to lead T1D research into the future

Our thirteen diverse T1D researchers from the second intake of the Program have attended their second leadership skills workshop, to build on what they had learned since they first got together.

In this workshop, facilitated by Marlow Hampshire, the group learned more about effective collaboration and leading teams, mentoring skills, engaging with a wider range of stakeholders and effectively communicating their research to different audiences.

The group were lucky to have two guest speakers. The first was Dr Dougal Edwards of Bright Arena, a specialist in the area of translation and commercialisation of research. These skills are extremely important for the leaders of tomorrow, to ensure that good research progresses out of the lab so it can reach the people who need it.

Then, Dr Kirstine Bell, a successful T1D researcher and previous participant of the Program, shared her experience and lessons learned from the first pilot group of the Program.

At the end of the day the group reflected on some of the skills they have taken away from the leadership workshops including, learning to be more structured when approaching pharma industry partners, learning how to pitch their research and especially new mentoring and “team health” skills. They were keen to take good care of their research teams by putting their new skills into practise.

Announcing the Program’s third intake

We’re pleased to announce the next group of rising stars in T1D research.

  • Dr Amita Bansal, Australian National University ACT
  • Dr Devy Deliyanti, Monash University VIC
  • Dr Sarah Glastras, University of Sydney NSW
  • Dr Mugdha Joglekar, University of Sydney NSW
  • Dr Alexia Pena, University of Adelaide, SA
  • Dr Chengxue Helena Qin, Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute VIC
  • Dr Darling Rojas-Canales – Flinders University SA
  • Dr Sih Min Tan, Monash University VIC
  • Dr Elif Ekinci, University of Melbourne VIC
  • Dr Steven James, University of Sunshine Coast QLD

The group come from a wide range of areas, including islet transplantation, beta cell biology, T1D pregnancies, eye, kidney and heart complications, environmental exposures leading to T1D and diabetes education.

In their first leadership workshop, the group met for the first time and discussed how to develop themselves as leaders, how to effectively communicate their research, and were challenged to come up with a research project that incorporates all of their unique skills, as a real-world example of collaborating effectively.

Dr Sarah Glastras commented on the group activity, saying: “If only I could put this into practise more often – sitting down with others to create and collaborate”.

The group were lucky to hear from JDRF’s own Suzanne Culph, Government and Advocacy Manager, who spoke to the participants about the power of advocacy, building relationships with community and relaying the importance of research funding to government. They also heard from JDRF volunteer and advocate Ms Christine Garberg, Chair of JDRF’s Lay Review Panel and mum to a son with T1D. She challenged the group to consider their real purpose and how to communicate effectively to make their research more accessible to people in the community. On connecting with an audience, Christine left the group with a Mother Theresa quote, “Never worry about the numbers, help one person at a time. Always start with the person nearest you”.

What’s next for the Program?

The second group will continue to work collaboratively together, and will each be paired with senior mentors in the T1D research field.

The third group will be back in their respective day jobs working on applying the skills learned in the first workshop and will meet again for their second workshop in February 2019.

Stay tuned for more updates and profiles of the participants.

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