Dr Chamara Basnayake awarded the 2022 TJ Martin Medal

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Research investigating the impact of incorporating multidisciplinary clinicians in treatment for functional gastrointestinal disorders has earned Dr Chamara Basnayake the TJ Martin Medal for 2022.

Now in its 17th year, the medal is presented to the author of the best PhD study by a St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne researcher over the past 12 months, as chosen by a panel of independent judges.

Dr Basnayake says he is proud to have his research recognised and receive the prestigious award.

“St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne is a centre for clinical innovation, so I was honoured to be recognised out of the other excellent research being completed here,” said Dr Basnayake.

The PhD focus

Titled Multidisciplinary care of functional gastrointestinal disorders, the doctoral study found that patients with functional gastrointestinal disorders who saw a team of clinicians would fare better than those who only saw a gastroenterologist – the typical treatment pathway, until now. 

Dr Basnayake says that functional disorders can be anything from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), constipation, and bloating, and there’s a myriad ways to treat these conditions.

“Treatments available for functional disorders can include medication, dietary changes, physical treatments and even psychological treatments,” said Dr Basnayake.

“We knew all of these treatments existed, so we thought if you engaged a multidisciplinary team to treat these patients, they were more likely to improve.

”“The results showed that engaging a team in treatment meant that patients were less likely to have symptoms, need additional tests, and save on costs to the healthcare system.”

Implementing the findings

As a result of the research, St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne has established a permanent multidisciplinary functional gut clinic in the hospital.

Patients referred to the clinic initially see a gastroenterologist, who can engage relevant allied health disciplines based on need.

The research has also gained worldwide recognition, being awarded Ray Clouse Award for the world’s best publication in functional gut disorders and the main PhD study being published in Lancet gastroenterology and Hepatoloy.  

“It’s the first time in the world this has been confirmed, and as a result more people are advocating for a multidisciplinary approach for these disorders”

The TJ Martin Medal

The TJ Martin Medal is named in honour of Professor Jack Martin who was the Director of St Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research from 1988 - 2002 and contributed extensively to research on bone.

The Medal was awarded to Dr Basnayake during ACMD Research Week, an annual event hosted at St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne to celebrate and recognise medical innovation and research excellence led by various teams across the hospital and the Aikenhead Centre for Medical Discovery (ACMD).