Oral Presentation Lowitja Institute International Indigenous Health and Wellbeing Conference 2016

Harnessing biomedical technologies to find solutions for Indigenous health priorities (#9)

William J Martin 1 , Louise Johansson 1 , Ngaree Blow 1 , Ian P Wicks 1 , Douglas Hilton 1
  1. Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Melbourne, VIC, Australia

Technologies at the biomedical frontier hold immense promise for tackling Indigenous health priorities. Applying these technologies to relevant health questions can be challenging, with a cultural divide between Western-based scientific institutions and Indigenous peoples, and few Indigenous Scientists sitting at the scientific interface to bridge these differences in culture, approach and knowledge. In this presentation, Māori biomedical scientist, Dr. Willy-John Martin, outlines the efforts at the Melbourne-based Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI) to build cultural and scientific relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and contribute to Indigenous health priorities. Tracing WEHI’s current Reconciliation efforts in engaging Indigenous health experts, Dr Martin describes how a suite of powerful technologies collectively known as ‘omics’ can be applied to urgent health concerns. In a collaborative pilot study of acute rheumatic fever in the Northern Territory, applying these technologies has identified new and promising therapeutic treatments for this debilitating disease that affects Indigenous peoples throughout the Pacific, and demonstrates the effectiveness and potential impact of these technologies in Indigenous health.