On 16 March 2018, our CEO Robert Klupacs accompanied Research Fellow, Dr Thushara Perera, to a breakfast event in Sydney for the announcement of the winner of the Bupa Health Foundation Emerging Health Researcher Award 2017.

The Bionics Institute congratulates Dr Amanda McCullough from Bond University who received the award for her work in preventing antibiotic resistance.

We would also like to congratulate Dr Perera for being a runner up for this highly-competitive award and we are very proud of him. 

Dr Perera was nominated in recognition of his ground-breaking work in developing new technology to make a difference in the lives of people affected by movement disorder's such as Parkinson's Disease. Dr Perera was one of 6 finalists selected from a pool of more than 120 nominees for this prestigious award, which recognises future leaders in Australian health and medical research.

Dr Perera was nominated by Professor Hugh McDermott (Chief Technology Officer, Bionics Institute) for his research into new methods to monitor movement in those living with disabling neurological disorders. The research includes people living with Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor and multiple sclerosis.

Dr Perera, an engineer who completed his PhD in 2014, works closely with neurologists, neurosurgeons, physiotherapists and other engineers to develop clinical tools to help optimise and guide treatment for patients.

“In collaboration with clinicians and other researches, I have developed many technologies to monitor symptoms such as tremor, rigidity, postural instability, and walking problems,” said Dr Perera.

“When patients come into the clinic, we’re only able to get a snapshot of their condition, so this makes it very difficult to provide adequate therapy for them. The technologies I am developing are going to help quantify and track the health of these patients. Eventually, we hope that it will lead to better therapeutic strategies and improve patient outcomes,” adds Dr Perera.

Described as someone who gets things done without any fuss, Dr Perera has had a major impact in movement disorder research both nationally and internationally.

“I would describe Thushara as a quiet achiever who really delivers the outcomes but does so with a minimum of fuss or difficulty and he does that through working directly with clinicians and with patients as well,” said Professor McDermott.

“As an engineer, I like to solve challenging problems but if I can use my talents to help those suffering from chronic illnesses then that makes me happy and it motivates me to work even harder,” said Dr Perera.

With over 75,000 Australians living with Parkinson’s disease, Dr Perera’s research has tremendous potential to improve clinical practice and health outcomes nationwide.