NHMRC grants round announced

Thursday 07 December 2017

Mater Research Institute-University of Queensland (MRI-UQ) has been awarded more than $10 million in National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funding.

The funding awarded as part of the 2017 Grant Application Round, places MRI-UQ well amongst other Queensland institutes.

Professor Jean-Pierre Levesque and Associate Professor Ingrid Winkler received a project grant of $707 217 for their work around stem cells.

Professor Levesque said that transplantation of patients’ own blood stem cells is used to treat many blood cancers and his research team will focus on improving the success rates of transplants.

“Transplants increase the chance of a cure, however the damage caused by chemotherapies used to combat the cancer can compromise stem cell collection and transplantation. Without transplant, these patients are less likely to be cured of their blood cancer,” he said.

“Our research will test new molecules that enhance the harvest of blood stem cells for transplantation to increase the success rate of transplants and cure in these cancer patients.”

Mater Researchers Associate Professor Allison Petit, Professor David Hume and Professor John Prins, along with their research team, received a project grant of $638 014 for their research project in the area of osteoporosis.

Associate Professor Allison Pettit said that fragility fracture associated with osteoporosis is a substantial health problem costing $1.62 billion to treat in 2012 in Australia.

“There is no approved therapy to improve and accelerate fracture healing to help reduce this increasing health burden,” A/Prof Pettit said.

“This research will advance understanding of fracture repair in healthy and osteoporotic bone and progress development of a fracture therapy to improve bone repair by promoting specialised immune cells.”

Professor Geoffrey Faulkner and his research team were awarded a project grant of $725 585 for his work on hyperactive mobile DNA in schizophrenia.

Professor Faulkner said schizophrenia affects 1 in 100 people, and yet its causes remain largely unclear.

“To improve understanding, treatment and management of the disease, the team performing this research will evaluate whether mobile DNA elements found in our genome are activated by stress and thereby alter how brain cells work in individuals affected by schizophrenia. They will also test whether mobile DNA can be blocked by drugs, perhaps revealing new strategies to treat the disease.”

Additional MRI-UQ researchers who received funding grants in this round include:  

Associate Professor Andreas Schibler —  Project Grant 2018-2021; $1 878 889
Nitric Oxide on Cardio Pulmonary Bypass in Congenital Heart Disease

Associate Professor Andreas Schibler —  Project Grant 2018-2021; $2 627 819
Nasal Highflow for Paediatric Acute Hypoxic Respiratory Failure

Dr Felicity Davis — Project Grant 2018-2020; $442 214
Identifying and exploiting novel pharmacological targets for breast cancer treatment

In addition, five MRI-UQ researchers received prestigious Fellowships from the NHMRC and Prof Sue Kildea and collaborators received a Partnership grant.

Mater Research has over 300 biomedical and clinical researchers and aims to conduct the highest quality health research focused on clinical integration and partnering to teach and share for the benefit of the community.

MRI-UQ is an alliance between Mater Research and The University of Queensland to achieve the best possible research discoveries in health and medicine.