Dr Alisa Pedrana is Gust-McKenzie Medalist

Image: Gust-McKenzie Medalist, Dr Alisa Pedrana, Burnet Institute Senior Research Fellow and Co-Head of the Implementation Science Group

Burnet Institute Senior Research Fellow and Co-Head of the Implementation Science Group, Dr Alisa Pedrana is Burnet’s Gust-McKenzie Medalist for 2020.

Named in honour of founding directors of the Burnet and Austin Research Institutes, Professor Ian Gust AO and Emeritus Professor Ian McKenzie AM, the Gust-McKenzie Medal is presented annually to an outstanding mid-career Burnet staff member in recognition of excellence in research and/or public health.

Dr Pedrana’s research focuses on blood-borne virus and sexually transmitted infections epidemiology and the integration of health interventions and evaluation to inform health services and quality of care improvements.

Her current work on hepatitis C elimination uses implementation science and co-design approaches to strengthen health systems and works closely with community organisations to produce evidence to support decision and policy making.

In her role as coordinator of the Eliminate Hepatitis C Australia Partnership, an $11.3M national project, Dr Pedrana leads a multi-disciplinary team of over 80+ researchers, implementation scientists, government workers, and health services and community organisation members to develop a cohesive national response to increase hepatitis C testing and treatment.

Presented with her award at a special online ceremony, Dr Pedrana highlighted the achievements of the EC Victoria and EC Australia projects and ongoing work to evaluate Australia’s investment in hepatitis C treatment.

“Australia is in a lucky position because of key features of our hepatitis C elimination response,” Dr Pedrana said.

“We have access to multiple DAA (direct-acting antiviral) regimens at low cost to patients, we’ve got universal access to treatments … and we’ve got convenient, accessible and acceptable models of care.

“But while we had a rapid uptake of treatments early on just after the new treatments were released, we’ve had a steady decline in treatment uptake over time.

“So this is where the bulk of our work to date is really focusing on how do we ensure that we maintain those levels of treatment to ensure we reach our elimination targets.”

Dr Pedrana said it’s “an absolute honour” to receive the 2022 Gust-McKenzie Award, and she felt fortunate to have benefited from great support and mentorship at Burnet.

“I feel really lucky to get to work at Burnet where I get to solve complex health problems … and it’s all in the name of trying to create a more equitable society through better health,” she said.

“Most of it is due to having such a great culture at Burnet and I want to acknowledge my colleagues who have supported me along the way.”

Previous winners of the Gust-McKenzie Medal include Dr Nick Scott (2021), Professor Leanne Robinson (2020), Dr Suman Majumdar (2019), Dr Anna Hearps (2018), and Associate Professor Joseph Doyle (2017).

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