A Queensland University of Technology health researcher has been honoured with a prestigious Smart State Fellowship to develop a genetic test that has the potential to revolutionise the diagnosis and treatment of people with schizophrenia.
Dr Joanne Voisey is one of three QUT researchers to receive a Queensland Government Smart State Fellowship announced today, worth $300,000 over three years.
The fellowship, which is funded by the Queensland Government and QUT, is awarded to early or mid-career researchers to undertake innovative research in Queensland.
Dr Voisey, based at QUT's Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, said her research would lead to the development of a genetic test for diagnosis of schizophrenia and early detection.
"Schizophrenia affects about one per cent of Queenslanders, making it 10 times more common than AIDS, cot death and melanoma combined," Dr Voisey said.
"The disease typically results in a significant deterioration in quality of life for those with the illness and their families, and costs the Australian community around $2.5 billion dollars a year indirectly.
"Schizophrenia accounts for 20 per cent of the health care costs for Australia."
Dr Voisey said her research would combine genetic screening with a person's demographic history profile to more accurately identify individuals at risk of developing schizophrenia and provide early intervention.
"Early intervention of schizophrenia would significantly reduce the burden to Queensland's health care system and increase the likelihood of those with the illness of leading healthy, productive lives."
QUT's Drs Wayde Martens and Timothy Dargaville have also received Smart State Fellowships.
Dr Dargaville's research will develop a new approach to treating burn-related scars using a special polymer bandage.