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$15 million to drive medical research to the next level

The Australian Government is investing more than $15 million in 19 innovative research projects that will drive better health care through the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Development Grant scheme.

The Hon Greg Hunt MP
Former Minister for Health and Aged Care

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The Morrison Government is investing more than $15 million in 19 nnovative research projects that will drive better health care through the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Development Grant scheme.

The grants will support researchers undertaking health and medical research within Australia at the proof-of-concept stage whose projects show potential for a commercial outcome within a foreseeable timeframe.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said the funding would support the continued development of innovative products, processes, procedures and services and contribute to better health care in the future.

“Australia continues to be at the forefront of medical research and these projects have the potential to increase not only our understanding of diseases, but to also revolutionise their treatment,” Minister Hunt said.

“From the development of drugs to improve immunotherapy to methods to enhance the treatment of pancreatic cancers, these projects have the potential to significantly improve patient outcomes.”

“Our Government continues to provide unprecedented support to health and medical research, as we back our best and brightest researchers to transform today’s ideas into breakthrough treatments for the patients of tomorrow.”

Grants included in this announcement will advance the development of a range of health and medical innovations, including:

  • A device that allows clinicians to assess a patient’s lung function so they can plan radiotherapy to minimise side effects and evaluate suitability for surgery.
  • A new form of RNA-based treatment for patients with liver cancer.
  • A compound that can prevent scarring caused by chemotherapy in pancreatic cancer patients which limits the effectiveness of subsequent rounds of treatment.
  • A new device to open blocked coronary arteries (angioplasty) that targets drug delivery to the surface of a re-narrowed blood vessel, for safer and more effective treatment of vascular disease.
  • A new, low-energy laser that rescues the light-sensitive film at the back of the eye to preserve central vision and prevent complete blindness from retinitis pigmentosa.
  • A highly active antimalarial drug class with a known mechanism of action and the prerequisites to advance to human clinical trials.

NHMRC CEO Professor Anne Kelso said it was exciting to see these innovations making progress along the path to patient care.

“We know that commercial development of medical technologies can be challenging. These grants fill a critical gap in that pathway by supporting research teams to obtain the proof-of-concept data needed to attract a commercial partner,” Professor Kelso said.



Chief Investigators

Administering Institution


A First-In-Class Tumour Matrix Targeting Approach to Enhance Chemotherapy in Pancreatic Cancer

Assoc Prof Thomas Cox

University of New South Wales


Development of a Novel Photo-Angioplasty Device for the Treatment of Occlusive Peripheral Vascular Disease

Assoc Prof Anthony Dear

Monash University


Preventing reperfusion injury in stroke with an acutely dosed NK1R antagonist prodrug

Prof Jonathan Baell

Monash University


Building Synthetic DNA Controls for Oxford Nanopore Sequencing.

Assoc Prof Timothy Mercer

The University of Queensland


Developing HCK inhibitor drugs to improve immunotherapy

Prof Matthias Ernst

La Trobe University


Targeting metabolism to correct fatty liver disease

Assoc Prof Kyle Hoehn

University of New South Wales


Lung Ventilation Imaging: A new device to protect the lungs for cancer treatment

Prof Ricky O'Brien

University of Sydney


Development of a non-invasive mucosal integrity diagnostic and ingestible capsule sampling tool targeting IBD gut health.

Dr Valerie Wasinger

University of New South Wales


Developing a first-in-class therapeutic for chronic visceral pain using venom derived peptides

Prof Stuart Brierley

Flinders University


Retinal Implant with Closed-loop, Multichannel Stimulation to Improve Visual Acuity

Assoc Prof Hamish Meffin

University of Melbourne


Targeting the Achilles’ heel of multi-drug resistant Neisseria gonorrhoea with drugs that disrupt metal homeostasis

Prof Mark von Itzstein

Griffith University


A novel RNA-based therapeutic for liver cancer

Prof Peter Leedman

University of Western Australia


Rescuing cone photoreceptors in retinitis pigmentosa with laser-delivered photobiomodulation

Prof Robert Casson

The University of Adelaide


Development of a novel topical serine protease inhibitor for tissue repair and inflammatory skin disease

Assoc Prof Mark Fear

University of Western Australia


Development of a potent and fast acting antimalarial that is orally efficacious in vivo

Dr Brad Sleebs

The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute


Developing FXIIa inhibitors as next-generation anticoagulants

Prof David Craik

The University of Queensland


Development of a novel blood test that accurately predicts response to checkpoint therapy in cancer patients

Prof Barbara Fazekas de St Groth

University of Sydney


Novel long-acting and orally delivered conotoxin-based peptides with both analgesic efficacy and disease modifying potential.

Dr Richard Clark

The University of Queensland


c-FIND: Diagnosis of infections in minutes

Prof Marc Pellegrini

The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute








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