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$100,000 Writer in Residence Fellowship to combat obesity

30 November 2015
Creative writer to join the Charles Perkins Centre
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Expressions of interest have opened for a $100,000 Writer in Residence Fellowship to join the fight against obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The insights and interpretations of creative writers are a missing but crucially important piece of the puzzle in our fight against obesity and its related conditions
Professor Stephen Simpson

A creative writer will join the fight against obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease with the announcement of a Writer in Residence Fellowship at the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre.

The $100,000 fellowship - the first of its kind in Australia - will take an unusual approach in enlisting a creative writer in a domain that is often seen as exclusively medical.

Expressions of interest are now open for the Fellowship, which has been funded by a generous gift by alumna and inaugural patron Judy Harris.

“The impact of obesity has moved far beyond the confines of medicine,” said Professor Stephen Simpson, Academic Director of the Charles Perkins Centre.

“The insights and interpretations of creative writers are a missing but crucially important piece of the puzzle in our fight against obesity and its related conditions, which are perhaps the most complex health issues in human history.”

Rather than writing specifically about obesity and chronic diseases, the writer will be given an open slate to creatively interpret the issues and their inherent complexity – not just health, but also wellbeing, food, ageing, social disadvantage or cultural identity.

“Sixty-one per cent of Australian adults and 25 per cent of children are now overweight or obese. We are well and truly at crisis point,” Professor Simpson said.

“The Fellowship is a tremendous opportunity for an established creative writer to transform the world’s understanding of and attitudes towards the modern epidemics of chronic disease by interpreting them in a manner beyond the reach of scientists and clinicians.”

Starting in 2016, the Charles Perkins Centre Writer in Residence Fellowship will be for one year and will provide $100,000, an honorary appointment at the University of Sydney, an office in the Charles Perkins Centre Research and Education Hub, full library access, and the opportunity to meet and work with a diverse range of researchers, educators and clinicians.

The Fellowship will recognise an Australian writer working in a creative genre (including fiction, poetry, theatre, creative non-fiction, digital media, and screen) who has published a major work, or has had it performed or produced professionally within the past five years.

Expressions of interest must be submitted by 29 January 2016, with the Writer in Residence to commence in mid-2016. 

Launched in 2014, the Charles Perkins Centre is a $500 million initiative at the University of Sydney which brings together researchers and clinicians from the University’s 16 faculties to develop integrated solutions for easing the burden of obesity and chronic disease.

Katie Szittner

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