First published 19 March 2019

Professor Punyadeera’s research into the early detection of throat cancers (a sub-type of head and neck cancers) has received a boost of $20,000 from Carly Mulheran whose young partner Jake Simpson died in his 20s of tongue cancer.

“Ms Mulheran’s experience illustrates the need for a quick and easy way to detect these increasingly common cancers early so that treatment is effective and lives are saved,” Professor Punyadeera.

Ms Mulheran said the donation was Jake’s wish to help find head and neck cancers at stage 1.

“Then patients would have a better prognosis and a longer life.” she said.

Professor Punyadeera has convened two Saliva and Liquid Biopsy symposiums in Brisbane that drew   world-leading biomedical researchers, clinicians, cancer researchers and medical industry representatives to share advances in the use of saliva or blood for non-invasive diagnosis of disease.

“With an ageing population and healthcare expenditure increasing we need to find low-cost, out-of-the-box ways to provide easy, accessible, preventative and early detection methods,” Professor Punyadeera said.

Dr Chris Jeffery, CEO of Brisbane-based Field Orthopaedics, will provide insights into his invention, the Field Micro Screw which received FDA approval last year, and is revolutionising the way surgeons repair hand and wrist fractures.

“The 1.5mm screw gives surgeons incredible precision when correcting fractures in small bones,” Dr Jeffery said.

“The Micro Screw assists with being faster to insert, helps to minimise damage to soft tissue, and helps to speed up healing.”

Also remarkable about this Queensland invention is that it was developed two and a half times faster and 65 times more cheaply than the US average timeframe and cost to develop a medical device.


Under Dr Jeffery’s direction, Field Orthopaedics is also developing coatings to eliminate infection in surgery, glue to stick bones back together and better orthopaedic implants to improve patient outcomes.

The World Science Festival Brisbane runs from 20-24 March 2019. For more information or to book for the Celebrating Queensland Innovation panel, visit


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