03/11/2014 - 16:13

Bringing business on board

03/11/2014 - 16:13

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A leading medical researcher at the Telethon Kids Institute believes effective communication is key if the business community is to become more engaged in research into autism.

Bringing business on board
ADVOCACY: Andrew Whitehouse says the biggest hurdle in medical research funding is engaging the business community. Photo: Attila Csaszar

A leading medical researcher at the Telethon Kids Institute believes effective communication is key if the business community is to become more engaged in research into autism.

Head of autism and related disorders at the institute, Andrew Whitehouse, said Perth was a great place to get ideas off the ground and get them funded, provided researchers could communicate these ideas with the corporate sector.

Professor Whitehouse told Business News a large part of his job was telling the corporate and public sectors why the research was important.

“I think scientists fall so easily into the trap of telling people that we have to do this but missing the important step of saying why we have to do this,” Professor Whitehouse said.

“Unless we tell people about the research that we’re doing, then we may as well never have done it.”

As reported in Business News in August, the institute secured 20.5 per cent of its overall revenue from philanthropic sources in 2013.

Its autism and related disorders research area investigates the genetic and neurobiological causes these conditions and conducts clinical trials.

According to the research group, autism and related disorders affect up to 1 per cent of the population.

Professor Whitehouse said winning a Business News 40under40 award in 2013 gave him traction with the business community to generate enthusiasm and sponsorship and to get companies to employ people with autism.

“It’s about engaging corporate sectors again to say that ‘here are these people with autism that can actually provide a huge amount of benefit to your industry’,” Professor Whitehouse said

In winning the award last year, Professor Whitehouse joined others in the medical research industry including Monique Robinson, who is also at the Telethon Kids Institute.

Ms Robinson also won a 40under40 award in 2013, and focuses on perinatal, child and adolescent mental health research.

Other medical industry award recipient alumni include 2008 First Amongst Equals Michelle Ammerer, who is director of coronary care at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, and founder of biotech company Phylogica and 2003 winner, Paul Watt.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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