The Australian Government's lead agency for funding health and medical research, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), has awarded Swinburne University of Technology’s Distinguished Professor Richard Osborne a coveted 2023 Investigator Grant. The funding was announced today by the Health Minister the Hon. Mark Butler MP.
“This grant highlights the world-leading research expertise of Distinguished Professor Osborne in public health. We are thrilled to see his work being recognised in addressing some of the biggest health challenges of our time,” said Professor Karen Hapgood, Swinburne’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research.
Distinguished Professor Osborne was awarded an NHMRC L3 Investigator Grant, the NHMRC’s highest individual research award. The grants provide a 5-year fellowship and research support for Australia’s most outstanding researchers at all career stages.
The $2.95 million funding award will be used to scale up health literacy development for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
“The aim is to equip researchers, health services and governments with new evidence and improved strategies. Our goal is to use health literacy as a key mechanism to reduce entrenched health inequities,” he said.
“We will conduct extensive, co-designed trials focusing on chronic diseases like diabetes and cancer, and improve mental health in rural areas, state-wide services and across NSW prisons."
Elevating health systems with Ophelia
Distinguished Professor Osborne is known for developing the Ophelia (Optimising Health Literacy and Access) process, as a practical tool to effectively deliver health literacy and health systems improvement programs with a focus on equity. The approach has recently been endorsed by the World Health Organization and adopted for broad use across Europe to reduce the burden of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. The 2023 Investigator Grant will build on this work.
"This research is set to develop and rigorously test new tools and processes, incorporating innovative digital methods. These will enable Australian and international organisations to better understand and enhance access to health information and services for individuals with low health literacy,” said Distinguished Professor Osborne.
“Importantly, the health programs we develop and test will be co-designed with the communities they intend to serve, ensuring they are both relevant and broadly implementable.”
Ophelia is used by international government agencies and has been applied in 62 countries worldwide.
“The continued investment in Ophelia will build new theory and models of effective practice to reduce the time from research to impact. It will minimise research waste that results from poor intervention development practice and poor implementation”.