The second successful recipient of the Deborah Lehmann Research Award was Dr Joseph Kado.
Joe received $30,000 towards investigating new and improved treatments options for Fijian children living with rheumatic heart disease (RHD) - a disease close to his own heart after his experiences working as a junior doctor in Fiji.
I encountered many children and adolescents being admitted to hospital for the first time with severe RHD with complications of heart failure, failure to thrive and stroke. Many children failed to make it to cardiac surgery and died prematurely. This problem is not limited to Fiji but most of the Indigenous populations in the Pacific.
My research aims to determine whether benzathine penicillin G, the drug for treatment and prevention of RHD, can be delivered safely and is effective if administered by a different route (i.e. subcutaneous (under the skin) rather than intramuscular (into the muscle).
In 10 years' time I would like to see a vaccine for Group A Strep that is able to prevent rheumatic fever, as well as an alternative penicillin formulation for secondary prevention of RHD that is more acceptable and accessible to all people with RHD.