Mater Research awarded $1.84 million in NHMRC funding

Wednesday 12 December 2018

Researchers from Mater Research have been awarded more than $1.84 million in National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funding.

Acting Chief Executive Officer at Mater Research Dr Maree Knight said the funding supports the high quality clinically relevant health research currently underway at Mater Research Institute-University of Queensland (MRI-UQ).

“This funding supports Mater Researchers to discover, develop and translate our medical research into tangible and significant patient outcomes,” said Dr Knight,

Dr Katharine Irvine, a Senior Research Fellow and Career Track Fellow was awarded $497,127 for her project investigating a therapy for Chronic Liver Disease (CLD) commencing in 2019.

CLD is a major health burden. In 2012 the estimated costs of treating liver disease was $432 million, and the productivity impacts of liver disease were estimated as $4.2 billion.*

“The defining feature of CLD is scarring of the liver (fibrosis), which can lead to loss of liver function and death. Macrophages are cells of the immune system that play critical roles in both fibrosis progression and fibrosis resolution. We have identified a growth factor that may switch pro-fibrotic macrophages to anti-fibrotic macrophages,” said Dr Irvine.

Professor David Hume, and Professor Kim Summers, Professorial Research Fellows at Mater Research, were awarded $467,127 for their work investigating how mutations that affect the function of microglia (immune cells that are abundant in the brain) cause dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases.

Brain injury and neurodegeneration together place an enormous social and economic burden on the health care system. As many as 400,000 Australians currently live with dementia.**

“Despite decades of research, no effective interventions to prevent dementia progression have been developed. This is something we hope to change,” said Professor Hume.

Professor Josephine Forbes, group leader of the Glycation and Diabetes Complications Research Group at Mater Research was awarded $878,595 for her work in preventing the progression of Diabetic Kidney Disease (DKD) by targeting the function of mitochondria in the kidney.

DKD is a devastating and costly chronic complication of diabetes and is a major risk factor driving heart attacks and mortality.

“Our innovative discovery demonstrating mitochondrial dysfunction early during the development of diabetic kidney disease provides a novel target as well as a realistic timeframe for therapeutic intervention to prevent DKD,” said Professor Forbes.

Congratulations to all recognised by NHMRC for their dedication and outstanding contributions.

*http://www.gesa.org.au/resources/economic-cost-and-health-burden-of-liver-disease-in-australia/

**https://www.dementia.org.au/statistics

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