Medical student wins grant

Headshot of Jakeb Waddell
Jakeb WaddellBroome Advertiser
Broome-based medical student Katherine Middleton.
Camera IconBroome-based medical student Katherine Middleton. Credit: Jakeb Waddell.

Skin sores, scabies and infections may seem like a ghastly subject for some, but it is nothing short of a passion for this successful grant winner.

Broome-based medical student Katherine Middleton, pictured, has been named a recipient of the inaugural $5000 Lishman Health Foundation research fellowship and will use it to join the fight against skin infections across the West Kimberley.

The 22-year-old is set to visit schools across different remote locations to gather data regarding the number of children suffering from the health issue.

The statistics will be used for the Seeing, Treating and Preventing (SToP) clinical trial to cure and prevent skin infections in Aboriginal communities, led by the Telethon Kids Institute.

Recent data shows one in two children have skin sores at any one time and about one in four have scabies infections.

Miss Middleton said the numbers were an “absolute injustice” and fuelled her determination to help make a difference. “In remote areas of Australia like the Kimberley, you see infections you would only expect to see in developing countries,” she said. “The positive thing is that we are blessed to have the resources to do something about it.”

Miss Middleton said she was excited to hit the ground running.

“Having done my undergraduate degree in microbiology, I developed a passion for the area of skin infections,” she said.

“The role I will play in the SToP trial is swabbing the children to find out how many have skin infections and how many carry the bug without any actual infection.”

The University of WA student has lived in Broome since the beginning of the year, completing the practical part of her postgraduate medicine degree at Broome Hospital.

The SToP trial began community consultations in October and the research portion is expected to run for the next three years.

It was introduced in partnership with the WA Country Health Service, Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service and Nirrumbuk Aboriginal Corporation.

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