UNSW awarded $30m in health and medical research funding

22 UNSW Sydney researchers have received NHMRC Investigator and MRFF Priority Grants in the latest round of federal government funding.
Yolande Hutchinson | UNSW Newsroom

Research that will assist in early cancer detection, develop biomarkers for dementia and develop programs for healthy ageing are some of the UNSW projects that will share more than $30 million in federal government funding.

UNSW researchers received 22 National Health and Medical Research Centre (NHMRC) Investigator Grants, two of which were funded by the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) Priority Round.

In this latest funding announcement, Minister for Health Greg Hunt committed almost $400 million to health and medical research projects. A total of 237 new projects will receive funding from the NHMRC, with a further 30 grants to be funded through the MRFF. The grants will support research in the areas of cancer, cardiovascular disease, mental health, indigenous health and infectious diseases.

UNSW Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Ana Deletic congratulated the recipients.

“UNSW researchers have been recognised for their exceptional contribution to health and medical research in Australia. The quality and breadth of their projects are particularly impressive,” Professor Deletic said. “These outcomes build upon last year’s success in the Investigator Grant scheme, enabling us to further strengthen health and medical research across the university.”

Scientia Professor Justin Gooding from UNSW Science has been awarded the most funding nationally. He will receive $3.76 million in funding to research biomarkers released from cancer cells that will assist in early cancer detection and better cancer treatment. His team will use lab-based models of cancer, generated with a 3D bioprinter, to learn what biomarkers reveal about cancer type and response to drugs.

Scientia Professor Perminder Sachdev from UNSW Medicine will receive $3.2 million in funding to develop biomarkers for vascular dementia. The findings of his research will help achieve a diagnosis of vascular dementia and quantify vascular pathology in patients with dementia.

Professor Simon Gandevia from Neuroscience Research Australia and UNSW Medicine will receive $2.8 million in funding for research into motor impairment, which is very common in strokes, multiple sclerosis and ageing. Prof. Gandevia’s research will answer key questions about mechanisms and management of the motor impairment and his results will be applied to patients.

Associate Professor Kim Delbaere from Neuroscience Research Australia and UNSW Medicine will receive $2.3 million in funding to develop active lifestyle programs for healthy ageing. A/Prof. Delbaere’s research will identify gaps in the current understanding on how to make healthy ageing more equitable and evaluate the effectiveness of self-managed lifestyle programs.

Professor Tuan Nguyen from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and UNSW Medicine will receive $2.3 million in funding for research into the contributing factors to bone loss. Prof. Nguyen will use this knowledge to identify individuals at high risk of excessive bone loss for early prevention. His aim is to create a model for assessing an individual’s rate of bone loss and predicting their risk of fracture.

Other UNSW recipients include:

Professor Colleen Loo, UNSW Medicine, $2 million, Developing New Treatment Approaches for Severe and Treatment Resistant Depression

Professor David Thomas, Garvan Institute of Medical Research and UNSW Medicine, $1.8 million, Genomic Cancer Medicine

Professor Bruce Neal, The George Institute for Global Health and UNSW Medicine, $1.7 million, Improving cardiovascular outcomes through better trials

Associate Professor Rowena Bull, UNSW Medicine, $1.5 million, Tackling the genomic diversity of RNA viruses

Associate Professor Chee Ooi, UNSW Medicine, $1.3 million, Closing the Clinical Translation Gap of the Gut Microbiome in Chronic Diseases

Associate Professor Michelle Farrar, UNSW Medicine, $1 million, Improving the health outcomes for children with rare neurological diseases with genomic technologies

Professor Glenn Marshall AM, UNSW Medicine, $900,000, Improving outcomes for children with cancer: targeted treatments and prevention

Kylie James, Garvan Institute of Medical Research and UNSW Medicine, $645,000, Defining the role of B lymphocytes in breast cancer at single-cell resolution

Doctor David Muscatello, UNSW Medicine, $645,000, Improving epidemiological risk assessment of influenza epidemics

Doctor Rachel Sutherland, National Drug & Alcohol Research Centre and UNSW Medicine, $645,000, Quantifying and reducing the burden of new and emerging psychoactive substances in Australia

Research Fellow Kelly Thompson, The George Institute for Global Health and UNSW Medicine $645,000, Understanding and improving outcomes due to Sepsis in at-risk and underserved populations

Doctor Bridianne O’Dea, The Black Dog Institute and UNSW Medicine, $620,000, Tackling it with Tech: Using novel Internet solutions to overcome the burden of depression in youth

Doctor Aliza Werner-Seidler, The Black Dog Institute and UNSW Medicine, $601,000, The Kids Aren’t Alright: Preventing Depression in Adolescents

Doctor Xia Wang, The George Institute for Global Health and UNSW Medicine, $568,000, Generating new evidence to better guide stroke management

Doctor Naomi Hammond, The George Institute for Global Health and UNSW Medicine, $554,000, Delineating the role of Fludrocortisone and Hydrocortisone in the management of patients with septic shock

Doctor Jonathan Brett, UNSW Medicine, $448,000, Immediate and long-term safety of prescription opioids in pregnancy

Doctor Clare Arnott, The George Institute for Global Health and USW Medicine, $387,000, Investigating novel therapies for heart failure with preserved ejection fraction.