MCRI researcher Hamish Graham has been awarded the inaugural $20,000 CSL Florey Next Generation Award for top PhD candidate in health and biomedical sciences.

Dr Graham has won the award for this work in Nigeria, improving children's access to oxygen.

He believes that targeted oxygen therapy could save the lives of thousands of children. 

Dr Graham says the key is identifying the children who need it most. He has found that providing Nigerian hospitals with equipment and training to measure blood oxygen levels has halved the number of children dying from pneumonia.

Hamish, a paediatrician who has worked in Sudan and Nigeria, is now working to make oxygen – a treatment we take for granted in Australia – available to every child who needs it.

Hamish's research and his experiences as a doctor have shown that knowing which children need oxygen the most is vitally important for hospitals in developing countries where oxygen supplies are limited.

His work demonstrates that supplying pulse oximeters – clip-on devices that measure a person's pulse and blood oxygen saturation – and the training to use them is as important as supplying oxygen itself.

"The Nigerian government has been changing its policies. Now we want to work with the World Health Organization to make sure pulse oximetry is part of routine care for every sick child that comes to hospital."

The CSL Florey Next Generation Award recognises a current PhD candidate who has demonstrated outstanding achievement and potential in biomedical sciences, health and medical research. It is an initiative of the Australian Institute of Policy and Science (AIPS), supported by CSL, to encourage the field's rising stars.

It carries a $20,000 cash prize and trophy, and was awarded last night at the Great Hall of Parliament House as part of the annual Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes gala dinner.

"Dr Graham's work highlights the benefits to global healthcare practice from the translation of medical research. Clinician researchers such as Hamish have a critical role to play in translating research knowledge and expertise into best practice medical care," says CSL's Chief Scientist, Dr Andrew Cuthbertson. 

"CSL is proud to support this award for promising young Australian researchers. We commend Hamish on his outstanding achievements and look forward to following his career."

"Howard Florey was a promising medical student and later a PhD candidate long before he conducted his Nobel Prize-winning research developing penicillin," says AIPS director Peter McMahon. "We are delighted to acknowledge achievements in this new generation of Australian medical research pioneers."