Innovative program pairs researchers with public

Innovative program pairs researchers with public

Illuminate newsletter index page, December 2018
December 2018


Ms Katya Gray coordinates the Institute’s Consumer
Buddy Program.

In late 2014, the Institute’s Consumer Advisory Panel (CAP) was launched to oversee a pioneering program that would match researchers with people known as ‘consumers’.

Consumers in this context are members of the public who have experienced the effects of disease—whether through their own illness or as a carer—or they are people who have a strong interest in medical research. Consumers lend invaluable perspectives to research.

Dr Judith Slocombe, a veterinarian turned senior corporate manager active in a number of causes, is chair of the Institute’s CAP. She has a son with type 1 diabetes.

“Establishing the panel was very forward- thinking,” Dr Slocombe said. “Having consumer voices means the Institute remains at the cutting edge of social issues and community attitudes towards them.”

Ms Katya Gray, who coordinates the program at the Institute, said it was wonderful to see the relationships that formed. “Our consumers attend workshops where they learn about the world of research they are entering, tour laboratories and have meetings and catch-ups with their researcher buddies,” she said.

The program is the brainchild of Professor Clare Scott, who is also a medical oncologist. Professor Scott said she was thrilled to see how consumer involvement had become part of the Institute’s rich culture. “It’s an enduring opportunity for researchers to interact with the community that so amply supports and encourages us and is a constant reminder for whom we are fighting,” she said.

If you have a desire to help improve research outcomes as a consumer, particularly in the areas of asthma and stem cell research, contact Ms Katya Gray by emailing consumers@wehi.edu.au or calling 0408 525 122.