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Graduate bequest funds health research

by MichŤle Nardelli

LABORATORY LAUNCH: Kathleen Bodnarís sisters, Christine Majoros and Alice Broadbridge were present at the openingThe generous bequest of a preschool teacher, who in her lifetime struggled with arthritis and breast cancer, was recently acknowledged at UniSA with the opening of the Kathleen Bodnar Laboratory.

A graduate of UniSA, Bodnar lost her battle with breast cancer in 2004 at the age of 51 but had long been interested in the use of alternative therapies to manage her own debilitating arthritis. She had a keen interest in research into new therapies and the nutritional factors influencing health and recovery.

The new Kathleen Bodnar laboratory will play a key role in UniSAís Nutritional Physiology Research Centre at UniSAís City East campus. Bodnarís bequest to the Centre has provided a dedicated research ultrasound machine to improve diagnostic capabilities.

Head of the Centre, Professor Peter Howe, said the bequest would ensure more thorough research could be carried out into the impact of a range of diet and lifestyle interventions including the importance of omega three fish oils and products such as cocoa and soy in the human diet.

"Right through all traditions of medicine there is a fundamental understanding of the importance of foods in influencing health," Prof Howe said. "The Centre is working to identify, quantify and verify how diet and lifestyle factors can improve cardiovascular, metabolic and mental health.

"The ultrasound will allow us to examine the changes in the lining of blood vessels and to observe changes in biomarkers that impact on heart health. It will complement our metabolic, cardiovascular and exercise testing facilities, making the Centre a fully integrated research unit dedicated to understanding the role of treatments and lifestyle changes, and alternatives to drug therapies, in improving human health. This is a wonderful gift because it will continue to contribute to human health well into the future."

Kathleen Bodnar completed a Graduate Diploma in Parent Education and Counselling in 1981. Dedicated to teaching and supporting opportunities for all children, Bodnar was active in the SA Institute of Teaching, influencing the development of an affirmative action policy for women and girls. She later worked for the World Workshop Resource Centre and ABSCHOL, a program to provide scholarships for Indigenous students.

A world traveller, Bodnar was a strong advocate for peace and for empowerment through education, and also spent some time working for Community Aid Abroad as a volunteer coordinator for CAA Trading. She taught at Bute Kindergarten until her poor health made it impossible to continue.

Attending the launch, Bodnarís sisters, Christine Majoros and Alice Broadbridge said they were delighted to see "Kathyís good intentions come to fruition".