News in brief: ACD launches second Reconciliation Action Plan; Topical sirolumus shows promise in SCC prevention; Male researchers in denial about gender-bias 

7 Mar 2022

ACD launches ‘Innovate’ Reconciliation Action Plan

The Australasian College of Dermatologists (ACD) has launched its second Reconciliation Action Plan that aims to increase diversity and address the skin health disparities that exist between the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous Australians.

The ‘Innovate’ plan “will see us strengthen our approach to reconciliation through business activities, services and programs, and develop mutually beneficial relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stakeholders” said ACD President Dr Clare Tait.

“Our Innovate RAP provides a clear plan for accelerating our effort to embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander involvement and perspectives in our governance and stakeholder engagement; to building skills and understanding to recognise and respond to the needs of patients and communities with cultural sensitivity and clinical expertise; to addressing inequitable access to dermatology services and disparities in skin health outcomes; and to fostering the First Nations specialist dermatology workforce,” she said.

Dr Tait said the College had made progress with four First Nations dermatologists graduating in the last two years, but remained a long way from achieving health equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

“To make significant changes, as a College we need to continue on the journey we have started. Our Innovate RAP provides the mechanism to do this” she said.

“Our new RAP coincides with the commencement of our new curriculum with a renewed focus on ensuring our trainees graduate with the knowledge, competencies, skills and experience to deliver culturally and clinically safe care for First Nations peoples and that our First Nations trainees can learn and work in an environment of respect. We look forward to working together to achieve this.”

Topical sirolumus shows promise in SCC prevention

Topical sirolimus may be an effective and more tolerable approach to preventing keratinocyte cancers in solid organ transplant recipients, Australian researchers say.

A pilot study involving 29 organ transplant recipients found that 12 weeks of treatment with 1% sirolimus gel on one hand and forearm was well tolerated compared to placebo used on the other hand/arm.

During the study period the number of keratotic lesions was reduced by 31% (from an average of 9.7 to 7.9, p=0.0001) in the treated side whereas it increased marginally in the placebo (vehicle) side.

During further follow up of two years there was a three-fold decrease in intraepithelial carcinomas.

“This pilot study encourages a longer trial in solid organ transplant recipients given the accumulated experience in the use of topical sirolimus and its general safety,” said study investigator Dr Sharene Chong from the University of Queensland Diamantina Institute Experimental Dermatology Group.

The findings are published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Male researchers in denial about gender-bias

Gender disparities will continue in medical and scientific research funding so long as male medical researchers remain in denial about systemic bias in areas such as peer review, an immunologist says.

Dr Jessica Borger says there is clear evidence of gender bias against women in funding application processes such as the NHMRC,  and the problem increases with seniority.

Writing in Women’s Agenda she notes that funding rates for women in the recent 2021 Investigator Grants outcomes were 2–4% lower than those for men, enough to result in noticeable disparities in funding rates.

The bias is inherent in the peer review system and needs to be tackled with gender quotas, she says.

“With more men than women receiving funding in the top bracket, women on average received $500,000 less per grant than the men despite being at the same level of seniority. Ultimately, this means of the few successful senior women retained to do competitive research, are doing so with significantly reduced funds compared to their male counterparts, limiting their future research pathway and forcing women researchers to leave science at early stages of their career,” Dr Borger said.

Already a member?

Login to keep reading.

Email me a login link