$114.2 Million Investment in Health and Medical Research
The Australian Government has invested a further $114.2 million in health and medical research through 159 grants.
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15 December 2011
Some of the best and brightest minds in Australian health and medical research were recognised in Sydney today.
Minister for Health Tanya Plibersek has announced a further $114.2 million investment in health and medical research for 159 grants.
“The Gillard Government is proud to be supporting our health and medical research innovators as they develop their products and technologies here in Australia,” Ms Plibersek said.
“Not only will patients benefit from the gains made by the research these grants will pay for, but we will be creating jobs and stimulating the economy for all Australians."
Ms Plibersek said the grants were spread across three National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funding schemes. The schemes include Program Grants, Development Grants and Postgraduate Scholarships.
This latest announcement brings the total NHMRC investment in health and medical research this year to $787.9 million and 1,299 research grants.
Examples of other grants being announced today include:
- $11 million for research by Professor Glenda Halliday from the University of NSW to enable diagnosis of dementia before symptoms are evident, allowing much earlier interventions to delay disease progression.
- $5.7 million for research led by Professor Paul Keall from the University of Sydney to develop MRI technology to improve the way in which cancer can be tracked as it moves around the body, assisting in improving the effectiveness of radiation therapy.
- $499,750 for research by Associate Professor Peter Meikle from the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute to develop a new blood test to identify those at greatest risk of possible heart attack.
- $422,418 for research by Professor Paul Hertzog of Monash University to increase the transportability of drugs to treat hepatitis B and C.
- $424,363 to fund work by Professor Mark Febbraio of Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute to develop a drug that might reduce insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes.
- 130 Postgraduate Scholarships in six states and territories worth more than $10 million.
- 10 Program Grants, valued at over $94 million for teams of our best senior researchers.
- 16 Development Grants worth $7.5 million to support the commercial development of a product, process, procedure or service that can provide improved health care, disease prevention or provide health cost savings.
- 3 Project Grants worth $1.7 million to support individuals and small teams of researchers.
NSW funding highlightsNSW funding includes two development grants, five program grants plus 42 postgraduate scholarships.
NSW funded development grants include:
- $570,000 for cancer therapy
Professor Des Richardson, University of Sydney
Cancer cells have a high iron requirement for DNA synthesis and many clinical trials have shown that iron chelators are effective anti-cancer drugs. Their potential to act as anti-tumour agents has been confirmed by the entrance of the iron chelator, Triapine, into widespread National Cancer Institute clinical trials. Professor Richardson will perform toxicological studies to enable clinical trials of potent and selective anti-cancer agents.
- $417,550 for biocompatible stents to treat coronary heart disease
Associate Professor Martin Ng, University of Sydney
Metallic cardiovascular implants, such as stents, used in the treatment of heart disease are not compatible with blood. They cause inflammation at the site of implantation and increase the risk of blood clots forming. Associate Professor Ng has developed a unique method of binding bioactive protein layers to the surface of metal alloys, and shown a significant improvement in their compatibility. Stents coated using this technology will dramatically improve the treatment of cardiovascular disease.
- $11 million for neurology and neuromuscular diseases (Dementia)
Professor Glenda Halliday, University of New South Wales
Frontotemporal degeneration of the brain is a leading cause of morbidity. It is a pathologically heterogeneous group of rapidly-progressive disorders. No successful treatments are available for any of these disorders, largely because the mechanisms determining the highly selective patterns of neuron loss are not understood. Professor Halliday’s research aims to identify the sequence of cellular changes occurring in neurodegenerative disorders for targeted interventions. She is particularly focussed on enabling diagnosis of dementia before symptoms are evident, allowing much earlier interventions to delay disease progression.
- $10.6 million for clinical trials in cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and neonatal diseases
Professor John Simes, University of Sydney
This research will improve health care and policy through clinical trials research and will tackle priority health areas to reduce death and serious disability including cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and neonatal diseases. The team includes clinicians, epidemiologists, trialists, biostatisticians, and health economists and collaborative networks of clinical investigators in each disease area.
QLD funding highlightsQLD funding includes two development grants, two program grants plus 16 postgraduate scholarships.
QLD funded development grants include:
- $417,340 for new therapeutic asthma treatments
Associate Professor Mark Smythe, University of Queensland
Prostaglandin D2 (PGD2) is a key mediator of asthma and allergic rhinitis. Associate Professor Smythe has developed drug-like compounds that block the synthesis of PGD2 by inhibiting the hematopoietic prostaglandin D2 synthase (HPGD2S) enzyme. His project will evaluate the potential of these compounds to treat asthma and to further optimize the drug-like characteristics of our lead molecules.
- $277,450 for Generation of high quality serum
Professor Martin Lavin, University of Queensland
Use of snake venom prothrombin activators in blood collection tubes produces high quality serum that improves patient outcomes. The timely availability of high quality serum and plasma samples is of the utmost importance for accurate biochemical analysis in a clinical setting. This requirement is particularly true for patients on anti-clotting therapeutic agents such as warfarin and heparin.
In this study, Professor Lavin will employ potent prothrombin activators purified from snake venom to enhance the clotting efficiency of blood for serum preparation for biochemical analysis.
- $17.1 million for tropical disease vaccine development
Professor Michael Good, Griffith University
Tropical diseases create a significant human and economic burden worldwide - particularly in resource-poor settings. Around half of the world's population is at risk of malaria. In Australia, streptococcal and parasitic worm infections are particularly common in indigenous communities. Professor Good’s research brings together leading experts to tackle these major health challenges. He will investigate how the body reacts to infection and creating new drugs and vaccines to eradicate these diseases.
- $7.1 million for research in cell transformation in cancer and muscular dystrophy
Professor Robert Parton, University of Queensland
This research is aimed at combating the changes associated with cell transformation in cancer and in other human diseases such as muscular dystrophy. The cell surface is organised into domains with distinct functions. Visualisation of these domains, identifying their important components, and understanding how they form and function will have huge importance for therapeutic strategies.
VIC funding highlightsVIC funding includes ten development grants, three program grants, two project grants and 54 postgraduate scholarships.
VIC funded development grants include:
- $618,515 for inflammatory lung disease and lung cancer
Dr Christopher Burns, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute
The inflammatory lung disease Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a major disease burden in Australia with over one million sufferers. Lung cancer is one of the most difficult cancers to treat with 5-year survival rates being below 20%. There is a pressing need for new therapies to treat these diseases and this project will develop new drugs designed to inhibit an underlying mechanism present in both diseases with minimal side-effects.
- $839,272 for new blood cancer treatment
Associate Professor Grant McArthur, University of Melbourne
Associate Professor McArthur has made the fundamental discovery that the ribosomal gene transcription is not simply a 'housekeeping' process in cancer cells but is required to maintain malignant cell viability. Inhibition of the ribosomal gene transcription using CX-5461, a novel small molecule inhibitor, enables selectivity for malignant cells over normal cells.
His development grant will be used to translate these observations into 'first in man' phase 1 clinical trials of CX-5461 for the treatment of blood cancers.
- $12.4 million for cardiovascular disease
Professor David Kaye, Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute
Despite significant advances in treatment, cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the major cause of death and disability in Australia and worldwide. Professor Kaye’s team has an international reputation for developing innovative approaches for the treatment of patients with CVD. They will work collaboratively to improve outcomes for people suffering from hypertension, heart attack and heart failure.
- $10.3 million for type 1 diabetes
Professor Thomas Kay, St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research
At least six young Australians are diagnosed each day with type 1 diabetes. Professor Kay’s research aims to propel type 1 diabetes research forward to reach the goals of prevention and cure by proactively treating its underlying mechanisms. He will develop safer and more effective immune therapies, develop islet transplantation, look for better markers of disease and identify ways to preserve insulin-producing cells.
WA funding highlightsWA funding includes two development grants and four postgraduate scholarships:
- $539,685 for new surgical tool for breast cancer
Associate Professor Robert McLaughlin, University of Western Australia
One third of breast cancer patients undergoing breast conserving surgery have insufficient tissue removed, resulting in an increased risk of recurrence. Associate Professor McLaughlin has developed a high resolution optical imaging probe with the potential to detect small areas of cancer. It could be used to help guide the surgeon to remove all cancerous tissue from the patient. This grant will allow him to develop the probe to a stage that it can be used during surgery for intra-operative tumour margin assessment in breast cancer.
- $479,750 for a prototype laser system for intraocular (eye) surgery
Professor Dao-Yi Yu, University of Western Australia
Intraocular surgery is a vital tool for treating common sight threatening diseases such as proliferative diabetic retinopathy and retinal vein occlusion. Professor Dao-Yi Yu will develop a prototype laser system to replace currently used mechanical instruments because UV based laser ablation enables enhanced cutting precision. The new system will be tested in animal trials and clinically.
SA funding highlightsSA funding includes four postgraduate scholarships:
- $109,358 for improved survival rates for patients with respiratory failure
Dr Shailesh Bihari, Flinders University
This project will examine the role of two common interventions in critically ill patients, fluid resuscitation and posture change, on lung injury. It is anticipated this will lead to clinical trials that will further improve survival in ventilated patients with respiratory failure.
- $71,857 for knowledge translation in Indigenous primary health care
Ms Louise Clark, University of Adelaide
New knowledge is needed about how to implement effective interventions and strengthen Indigenous primary health care systems. This study is the first to look at how evidence, context and facilitation elements influence the implementation of research into Indigenous primary health care practice and policy.
- $109,358 for scar reduction
Dr Alexander Cameron, University of Adelaide
Scarring causes significant morbidity and suffering. It can lead to pain, disfigurement and impaired physical function, which require costly ongoing care. This project will investigate the role of a novel protein and its potential as a therapeutic target.
- $109,358 for improved Leukaemia detection
Dr David Yeung, University of Adelaide
Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia (CML) is a cancer of the white blood cells. This research will find new ways of countering CML drug resistance and improving detection.
NT funding highlightsNT funding includes nine postgraduate scholarships. All nine researchers work at the Menzies School of Health Research:
- $109,358 for Hepatitis B research in the Top End
Dr Jane Davies, Menzies School of Health Research
Dr Davies is an infectious diseases doctor working with Hepatitis B in the Top End of the Northern Territory. She will provide detailed information about the prevalence of Hepatitis B infection, the specific subtypes found in this region and the burden of the disease attributable to it. This information is not currently available for this region. Dr Davies will also explore the levels of knowledge in the community about Hepatitis B infection using this information to develop and evaluate an educational tool.
- $109,358 for chronic kidney disease amongst Indigenous Australians
Dr Paul Lawton, Menzies School of Health Research
The aim of this body of work is to improve understanding of the incidence and outcomes of chronic kidney disease for Indigenous Australians, in order to try to better predict outcomes and guide clinical and policy-level decision making.
For more information, contact the Minister’s Office on (02) 6277 7220.
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