Three SCHN finalists at NSW Premier's Awards

Researchers at the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network have been recognised as finalists in the 2021 NSW Premier’s Awards for their innovation in cancer treatment and the national COVID-19 response.

The NSW Premier’s Awards celebrate excellence and diversity in the delivery of services to the state’s community by the public sector, non-for-profit organisations and businesses.

Announced today, SCHN has a team finalist; the Zero Childhood Cancer Program and two individual finalists; Kaitlyn Vette and Professor Kristine Macartney, nominated across three categories. Their achievements showcase the exemplary work, commitment and dedication of teams across the Network.

The Zero Childhood Cancer Program, led by Professor David Ziegler, has been nominated for Excellence in Digital Innovation award. This award acknowledges teams who have excelled in using digital technologies to drive research and decision making.

The Zero program is a collaboration between the Kids Cancer Centre at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick, and the Children’s Cancer Institute and is changing the way high-risk cancers are managed in children across Australia.

Through genome sequencing and drug testing, the national precision medicine program has helped identify reportable molecular aberrations in more than 90 per cent of enrolled patients. To date new treatments have been delivered to a quarter of these patients and have helped stop the growth of tumours in 40 per cent and shrink the size of tumours in 30 per cent of cases.

For children with no other treatment options and less than 30 per cent chance of survival, the results are exceeding expectations and hold great hope for the future.

Kaitlyn Vette, an epidemiologist at the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS), has been nominated for the Anthea Kerr Award which recognises emerging leaders under 35 years old.

Her work focuses on immunisation coverage and vaccine-preventable disease surveillance, with experience managing infectious disease threats at state, national and international levels. She has been a leader in several multi-organisational projects during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kaitlyn has committed her career to working collaboratively to examine the true rates of infection both state-wide and nationally and harnesses enormous potential to change and shape the public sector moving forward.

Also working within the NCIRS team is Professor Kristine Macartney, who has been named as a finalist for Public Servant of the Year for her innovation and expert leadership globally in the COVID-19 vaccine response.

Kristine is the Director of NCIRS, a paediatrician and infectious disease specialist with almost 20 years of experience in vaccinology. She has led new programs and expanded existing ones to enhance understandings of SARS-CoV-2 transmission, guided the introduction of novel vaccines and monitored their safety, as well as assisted the vaccine roll out in the Asia-Pacific region. This has included supporting and advising governments, health leaders (nationally and internationally), health professionals and the public.

Her contribution to the success of the nation’s COVID-19 response highlights Kristine’s technical skills and outstanding leadership working for the NSW Government.

The award winners will be announced via a virtual event ceremony on Wednesday, November 3.