$120 million for tomorrow’s medical breakthrough

Minister for Health Sussan Ley has announced $123.5 million in grants to ensure Australia remains at the forefront of medical health and research.

Page last updated: 25 March 2015

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25 March 2015

Minister for Health Sussan Ley today announced $123.5 million in grants to ensure Australia remains at the forefront of medical health and research and a world leader in preventing, treating and curing illness and disease.

Ms Ley said over 100 top Australian researchers and projects would share in the National Health and Medical Research Council grants.

“Australia’s research sector continues to produce the knowledge, techniques and products that save lives and improve quality of life both today and for years to come,” Ms Ley said.

“It has been estimated that every $1 spent on health and medical research generates a health benefit valued at over $2.

“The Australian Government is proud to support our country’s brightest health and medical researchers and the research that will help to deliver the next big breakthroughs in medicine.”

The funding announced today includes $15 million for twenty-six research projects that aim to take treatments from an idea in the laboratory and translate them into commercial viable products.

“The important step of taking a concept to reality has the potential to create new highly-skilled jobs, export earning, new companies and even new industries in the future,” Ms Ley said.

“The opportunities and benefits that medical research provides Australia highlight the importance of the Government’s commitment to the Medical Research Future Fund.”

The schemes that comprise today’s announcement range from supporting early career researchers to supporting research that is on the brink of commercialisation and include:

    • $98.3 million to fund 11 Program Grants, which bring together leading researchers from diverse fields to collaborate on projects that are at an advanced stage of discovery.
    • Development Grants worth $15.2 million to help 26 research projects make the leap from the laboratory to commercialisation.
    • $6.4 million to support 69 early career researchers working towards their PhD or Master degrees through Postgraduate Scholarships.
    • $2.4 million to support five collaborations between researchers, organisations and governments through the Partnership Projects scheme.
    • $1.3 million to fund two NHMRC-UK National Institute for Health Research collaborative research grants.

More information about the grants announced today can be found on the NHMRC website under Outcomes of funding rounds.

Grant highlights

Professor Samuel Berkovic, Program Grant, University of Melbourne ($16,110,300)
This research builds on Professor Berkovic’s award-winning body of work into epilepsy.
Professor Berkovic and his team will apply four approaches – genetics, imaging, physiology/pharmacology and deep phenotyping – to characterise the causes and mechanisms of epilepsy to develop personalised therapies.

Dr Hong Zhang, Development Grant, Centre for Eye Research Australia ($584,165)
This research supports the development of a non-invasive treatment for the degenerative eye condition keratoconus. Current treatment involves lifting the protective layer of the cornea to apply riboflavin to the central region of the cornea – a procedure which can be painful and carries many risks of complications. Professor Zhang will work with Seagull Technologies to develop a polymer gel that, combined with a delivery device invented by the company, can release riboflavin into the cornea safely and without the need for any incision.

Dr Peter Savas, Postgraduate Scholarship, University of Melbourne ($80,614)
By sequencing the DNA of an individual patient’s cancer, researchers can obtain a wealth of information about their disease, because every tumour has its own unique genetic changes. By using the latest DNA sequencing technologies, Dr Savas will compare genetic changes in patients with incurable breast cancer over time. This could enable some patients to receive therapies better targeted to their tumour and may help prevent cancer from reaching such an advanced stage in the future.

For individual grant information and to find out if there is a local recipient in your area please contact Alexis at the NHMRC.

Minister Ley’s Media Contact: James Murphy – 0478 333 974
NHMRC Media Contact: Alexis Cooper – 0422 008 512

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