At a ceremony held by the External Relations Branch of the University of Adelaide on International Volunteer day 5 December 2018, our Florey Adelaide Male Ageing Study (FAMAS) volunteers, Mrs Peggy Rowe, Mrs Daina Shaw and Mr John Rand were awarded the Vice Chancellor’s Community Volunteer Group of the Year award. The award was presented by Professor Pascale Quester (Deputy Vice-Chancellor & Vice-President (Academic))
For almost 10 years, Peggy, Daina and John have each committed a day out of their week, for most weeks, to support the operation of FAMAS. They have tirelessly applied their professional skills and knowledge, their organisational abilities, their passion for research, and their happy, positive and uplifting demeanours to support this important research in the Freemasons Foundation Centre for Men’s Health at the University of Adelaide. With the University’s 120 year anniversary celebrations of Sir Howard Florey, the award is particularly fitting for a group who have dedicated so much of their time to a research study that is named after Sir Florey and which was originally funded by the Florey Foundation.
Longitudinal population ageing studies, where subjects are asked to participate at regular intervals over time, remotely and/or by attending research clinics for investigations, are notoriously difficult to undertake successfully in the long term, yet generate powerful data for exploration. Such studies are extremely labour intensive and rarely have sustained funding necessary to maintain them over time. They require constant administrative oversight to maintain participation rates, thereby ensuring the scientific value of the cohort remains of the highest quality. Peggy, John and Daina have facilitated strong engagement with participants through newsletters, birthday cards, and timely follow-up on queries and change in participant status. They proof read community materials and grants, assist with survey mail outs, data entry, processing linkage data, transcribing, filing, refiling and re-re-filing. They happily tackle apparently never-ending tasks, role modelling perseverance for our students and young scientists and provide them with encouragement and advice. Their partners Vic, Ronda, and Bill encourage and support them in their work, and they were also acknowledged in the award ceremony.
FAMAS is one of the longest running and most comprehensive longitudinal male aging studies that has advanced our understanding of risk factors for, and early warning signs of, diabetes and poor heart and metabolic health, reproductive health, mental health and cognition, sleep and musculoskeletal health, and men’s use of health services. As the cohort ages, we will uncover more information about healthy ageing to refine and develop new prevention, screening and treatment strategies. The FAMAS program has led to nearly 100 contributions to the published scientific literature and informed policy, guidelines and practice relating to men’s health. The FAMAS multidisciplinary program has also led to a number of new research initiatives, including large scale clinical trials, national and international collaborations and health services projects that generate considerable research income and recognition for the University of Adelaide as a leader in men’s health research, as well as being the vehicle for the training of students and future research leaders.
Without their selfless efforts the cohort would not have been maintained and much of the other research being undertaken would not have eventuated. Beside the help they provide to our group, all three are also extremely active in their communites and undertake a considerable range of charitable work. Head of FAMAS Professor Wittert commented that their legacy is the advancement of science – they are the bearers of the “torch of Florey”.
The Centre would also like to acknowledge and thank Mr Sonnay Uy who has generously volunteered for the Centre since 2017 and all our community and student volunteers and consumers.