News & Events

Meet our latest Fellowship recipients: Dr Rachel Koldej and Rachel Edwards

Our Centre of Research Excellence (CRE) has commenced the new year with a spectacular flourish!

We are extremely proud to announce the two recipients of our most recent Fellowship grant round, Dr Rachel Koldej, Senior Scientist at the ACRF Translational Research Laboratory, The Royal Melbourne Hospital and Rachel Edwards, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Oncology Services Group, Queensland Children’s Hospital.

Dr Rachel Koldej has received a 2-year Fellowship for her research project titled Dissecting immune dysregulation in acquired Bone Marrow Failure Syndromes to identify new therapeutic leads.

Dr Koldej has been a world-wide pioneer of using a new technique, Digital Spatial Profiling, to enhance the understanding of the bone marrow immune microenvironment.

This Fellowship project will examine both patient samples and mouse models to further assess immunological aspects of BMFS, and develop assay systems in which new therapeutic drugs can be tested.

“My big hope for this research,” says Dr Koldej, “is that we can identify existing drugs that we can quickly move into clinical trials and ultimately provide new treatment options for patients with Bone Marrow Failure Syndromes.”

As we all know, medical research is a marathon not a sprint. Knowledge must be built with time, patience and funding!

Importantly, Dr Koldej’s Fellowship builds on her previous research findings — that were also enabled by a grant funded by the Maddie’s Vision community.

Our CRE strategically attracts and supports the brightest minds to BMFS research, foster emerging talent and building world class BMFS research capability in Australia.

“The continual support that MRV and its donors have provided to my research has been essential to its success,” says Dr Koldej. “Prior funding by MRV allowed me to develop a new way to analyse the bone marrow of patients with BMFS and with this new funding, I will be able to build on that success.”

Rachel Edwards is the recipient of our inaugural Fiona Riewoldt Nursing/ Allied Health Fellowship. 

As a clinical nurse consultant in haematology and bone marrow transplantation, Rachel has seen first-hand the effects of treatment on young people with Bone Marrow Failure Syndromes.

“Symptom management isn’t always as optimal as it could be,” says Rachel. Young people post bone marrow transplant can experience difficult-to-manage symptoms that cause significant distress and disruption to daily life. 

Her research project, Improving capability and capacity of nurses to assess and manage young people with symptoms associated with acquired and inherited Bone Marrow Failure Syndromes, is designed to develop, implement and evaluate resources to support best practice symptom assessment and management for patients undergoing bone marrow transplant for these relatively rare conditions.

Rachel’s hope is that her work will “empower young people with BMFS to communicate their symptom burden to the nursing team, support nurses to better recognise and manage treatment-related side effects and improve patient outcomes and quality of life.” 

Receiving the Fellowship is “an incredible milestone for me,” she says, “allowing me to pursue a research higher degree with the Queensland University of Technology School of Nursing and build capacity in the nursing workforce to enhance symptom management and reduce patient distress. I am honoured to join the Maddie’s Vision community.”

The 2-year Fellowship will be funded by our incredible partners at Flavorite. 

The addition of the two Fellowship projects brings the CRE’s research portfolio to a total of 31 projects located nationwide. 

Thank you to the Maddie’s Vision community for supporting our incredible researchers. 

If you’ve donated to Maddie’s Vision in the last year, bought some tomatoes at Coles or purchased a beanie, this research has been made possible because of you! 

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