Date published: 
22 October 2021
Media type: 
Media release
Audience: 
General public

Seventeen multidisciplinary research teams will each receive $5 million in funding from the Australian Government to find solutions to major questions in human health that cannot be answered by individual investigators.

The Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, today announced the award of $85 million for 17 projects through the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Synergy Grant scheme.

“Collaboration is at the heart of science today,” said Minister Hunt. “Many of our greatest health challenges will only be solved by collaboration between people with different skills and different perspectives.

“These grants bring together teams of Australia’s best health and medical researchers from across disciplines to address health issues as diverse as the link between the gut microbiome and lung inflammation and creating new drugs to fight the emerging viruses and antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

“One project at WEHI will support an exceptional team of experts in computational protein design, structural biology, immunology and brain surgery who will together help achieve better outcomes for those Australians facing the devastating diagnosis of brain cancer.”

The research team at WEHI, led by Associate Professor Misty Jenkins, aims to have one or more novel CAR T-cell therapies to take into clinical trials in Australia to treat glioblastoma, which is the most common primary brain tumour and has a low survival rate. 

The team aims to develop cell-based immunotherapies that will potently and specifically eliminate tumours with minimal damage to healthy tissue and will support long-term remissions.

Each Synergy Grant team receives $5 million over 5 years, with funding commencing in 2022.

The Synergy Grant scheme was introduced in 2019 and is designed to support highly collaborative teams of diverse researchers to work together to address major problems in any area of human health and medical research, from discovery to translation. Notably, over 50 per cent of the Synergy Grants awarded in this round are led by women.

NHMRC CEO Professor Anne Kelso said the success of female lead investigators in the latest Synergy Grant outcomes was encouraging for all as well as for many other women starting out on their research careers.

“The projects funded today are exciting examples of what is possible when different disciplines and perspectives are brought together to solve a problem. While the Synergy Grant outcomes for female lead investigators are significant, NHMRC continues to work on ways to ensure women are equally represented at all careers levels and across all our grant schemes,” Professor Kelso said.

Today’s announcement includes funding for research at:

  • The University of Queensland where Professor Kate Schroder will lead a multidisciplinary team to create new drugs to fight the emerging viruses and antibiotic-resistant superbugs that are major challenges for human health in the 21st century
  • The University of Melbourne where Professor Ingrid Scheffer will lead a team bringing computational expertise to integrate multiple biological measurements from patients with severe forms of epilepsy, revealing underlying disease dynamics and targeting new treatment approaches
  • The University of Western Australia and Telethon Kids Institute where Professor Jonathan Carapetis will bring together a diverse team of experts to tackle the social determinants that underlie rheumatic heart disease – a serious disease caused by preventable Strep A infections and disproportionately affecting Indigenous Australians – by investigating how environmental health and housing interventions can stop Strep A spread
  • The South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) where Professor Alex Brown will lead a national consortium to build Indigenous leadership in genomics through empowering communities to understand genomic variation, identify multi-omic signatures of disease and translate these findings to health care, ensuring Indigenous people can lead genomic research on their terms
  • University of Technology Sydney (UTS) where Professor Philip Hansbro will lead a team that will examine the link between gut disease and emphysema and how the altered microbiome can be modified with dietary interventions, with the most effective to be tested in clinical trials.

Chief Investigator Name(s)

Application Title

Administering Institution

Budget ($)

Professor Kate Schroder

 

Mining the host-pathogen interface to deliver a drug pipeline for treating intractable and emerging infections

University of Queensland

5,000,000

Professor Paul Haber

 

Linking clinical and basic science discovery to find new treatments for alcohol use disorder

University of Sydney

5,000,000

Professor Monika Janda

 

Roadmap Options for Melanoma Screening in Australia (Melanoma-ROSA)

University of Queensland

5,000,000

 

Professor Mark Jenkins

 

Tackling Australia’s low screening participation to prevent bowel cancer morbidity and deaths

University of Melbourne

5,000,000

 

Associate Professor Kate Sutherland

 

Improving outcomes for lung cancer patients: Discovering targetable vulnerabilities in lung cancer

The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research

5,000,000

 

Professor Philip Hansbro

 

Defining the role and therapeutic manipulation of the gut-lung axis in respiratory disease

University of Technology Sydney

5,000,000

 

Professor Anne Kavanagh

 

Interventions for better life-time mental health outcomes for young Australians with disability

University of Melbourne

5,000,000

 

Professor Ingrid Scheffer

 

"Integrative-omics" for precision medicine in the epilepsies

University of Melbourne

5,000,000

Professor Jonathan Carapetis

 

STopping Acute Rheumatic Fever Infections to Strengthen Health (STARFISH)

University of Western Australia

5,000,000

 

Professor Roslyn Boyd

 

Cerebral Palsy SYNERGY Network to Protect, Repair and improve Outcomes

University of Queensland

5,000,000

Professor Mark Parsons

 

SERPICO Stroke: Synergistic Enhancement of Research design with Precision analytics to Improve Clinical Outcomes in Stroke.

University of New South Wales

5,000,000

Associate Professor Misty Jenkins

 

Rational design of novel CARs for safe and effective brain cancer immunotherapy

The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research

5,000,000

Professor Monica Slavin

 

Improving patient outcomes through implementation of digital and diagnostic innovations for infections in cancer

University of Melbourne

5,000,000

 

Professor Andrew Roberts

 

Understanding and averting blood cancer resistance to therapy

The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research

5,000,000

Professor Patrick Brennan

IMPACT: IMplementation of x-ray PhAse-Contrast Tomography to transform cancer diagnosis

University of Sydney

5,000,000

 

Professor Alex Brown

Respecting the Gift - Empowering Indigenous Communities in Genomic Medicine

South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute Limited

5,000,000

Professor Melissa Southey

National Precision Health Research Translation for Breast and Prostate Cancer Prevention and Early Detection

Monash University

5,000,000

   

Total

     85,000,000

Ministers: