Dr Leanne Rees has been awarded the QUT Alan Mackay-Sim Spinal Cord Injury Travelling Fellowship, which aims to improve clinical outcomes and quality of life for people with a spinal cord injury.

Dr Rees is a research officer in the PREPARE theme of the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Stem Cell Medicine, reNEW, and in the Murdoch Children's Research Institute’s Stem Cell Ethics & Policy group. She is also a senior physiotherapist in spinal cord injury rehabilitation at Austin Health, and recently completed her PhD at La Trobe University investigating the representation, creation and impact of spinal cord injury in Australian news media. Dr Rees is now investigating how healthcare professionals navigate conversations of hope considering media portrayals of stem cell therapies at reNEW Melbourne.

The aim of this travel fellowship is to gain an in-depth understanding of how spinal cord injury is communicated in an international context and identify strategies to address media informed attitudes and beliefs towards spinal cord injury. Findings will also have relevance to challenges experienced by patients and their families when making healthcare decisions following the diagnosis of other acquired or chronic conditions, in a time where information is readily sourced through the Internet and mass media.

“This new knowledge will help inform practices to help improve experiences and rehabilitation outcomes for people with spinal cord injury here in Australia and help frame my research at reNEW and Murdoch Children’s. I’m excited and thankful for QUT for giving me this opportunity,” Dr Rees said.