UQ medical research recognised with NHMRC project funding

7 Dec 2016

Australia’s peak funding body for health and medical research has awarded $14.2 million to projects at The University of Queensland’s Faculty of Medicine.

 Acting Executive Dean, Faculty of Medicine, Professor Robyn Ward said the project grants from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) validate the quality and importance of the Faculty’s work, up by more than $1 million on last year.

 “Our researchers excel at tackling the tricky health issues that affect not only Australians, but people the globe over,” she said.

“This funding helps them in finding practical solutions to improve medicine and healthcare, and I look forward to seeing what our outstanding researchers will achieve next.”

Dr Coral Gartner from the School of Public Health will receive $1.5 million for a clinical trial to investigate the use of vaporisers to help ‘at risk’ groups to quit smoking.

“Smoking is a leading cause of early death for people with health conditions including HIV, Hepatitis C and opiate dependence, and we will test whether long-term use of nicotine vaporisers helps them to give up and stay smoke-free,” Dr Gartner said.

Professor Gita Mishra has been granted almost $1.4 million to add biomedical data to Australia’s flagship survey of women’s health.

“By collecting samples we will be able to add an important new layer of information to more than two decades of data from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health,” Professor Mishra said.

“This will enable us to investigate links between reproductive factors and body size with the risk of major chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease and asthma.”

At the UQ Centre for Clinical ResearchDr Barbara Lingwood and Professor Paul Colditz have received funding for a pre-clinical trial to see whether early blood transfusion could increase oxygen flow to the brain in pre-term babies.

Professor David Paterson and Associate Professor David Whiley will trial a new treatment approach for gonorrhoea, which has now developed resistance to almost all antibiotics used against it.

Genomics researcher Professor David Evans from UQ’s Diamantina Institute received two project grants, to investigate whether viruses may trigger autoimmune disease, and to identify genes which increase the risk of the arthritis ankylosing spondylitis.  

UQDI’s Dr Antje Blumenthal received funding for research into new tuberculosis treatments, and Dr Andrew Brooks will further his research which identified a potent anti-inflammatory protein for the liver.

The NHMRC has also funded a nanotechnology project led by Dr Xiaowen Liang to investigate non-invasive visualising and early prediction of drug response in liver cancer.

School of Medicine researchers Professor Darrell Crawford and Dr Xin Liu will collaborate on a project investigating effective and optimal dosing of cell-based therapy for liver diseases with Professor Michael Roberts.

Professor John Upham will lead a study into why common colds can trigger flare-ups in asthma patients, while Professor Ian Yang will investigate microbes in the lung to predict frequency of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) exacerbations.

At the School of Biomedical SciencesDr Jana Vukovic will explore whether modulating the brain’s immune cells (microglia) could be used to target the cognitive decline associated with ageing.

Dr David Simmons has received funding for a project examining the fusion of cells in the placenta during pregnancy and how impairments relate to complications such as pre-eclampsia.

Associate Professor Trent Woodruff and Dr Richard Clark will develop and test novel anti-inflammatory compounds in animal models with a view to identifying potential new treatments for motor neuron disease (MND) thanks to an NHMRC development grant.

MRI-UQ’s Professor John Hooper and his team will further research into a particular ovarian cancer cellular receptor- CDCP1, while Associate Professor Ingrid Winkler with Professor Jean-Pierre Levesque will investigate new therapeutic avenues to sensitise cancer stem cells to therapy enabling long-term cure.

The NHMRC has also announced three Career Development Fellowships for the Faculty.

Recipients include cardiac researcher Dr James Hudson (School of Biomedical Sciences), head of the new Stillbirth Centre of Research Excellence Dr Vicki Flenady (Mater Research Institute-UQ), and Associate Professor Kiarash Khosrotehrani (UQ Diamantina Institute) whose interest is in regenerative medicine and skin cancer.

Media: Bernadette O’Connor; 07 3365 5118, 0431 533 209.