MRI-UQ research recognised with NHMRC project funding

Friday 20 January 2017

Mater Research Institute-University of Queensland (MRI-UQ) has been awarded $3.2 million in National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funding, following the annual grant announcement.

Chief Executive Officer MRI-UQ, Professor John Prins said the funding represented a significant achievement and was an acknowledgement of the quality of the research being undertaken at MRI-UQ.

“MRI-UQ researchers specialise in translating research results from the laboratory to the patient, to make a tangible and significant difference to patient outcomes,” Professor Prins said.

The NHMRC has also announced a Career Development Fellowship for MRI-UQ researcher Professor Vicki Flenady, to establish a national Centre of Research Excellence to address stillbirth.

Together with previous announcements, the latest grant announcement brings funding awarded by NHMRC to MRI-UQ in 2016 to a total of $5.7 million.

Funded projects which will commence in 2017 include:

  • Epigenetic signatures of abnormal adult neurogenesis in Rett syndrome

Rett syndrome (RTT) is a severe neurodevelopmental condition arising in early childhood, and affects an estimated 1/8500 females in Australia. The vast majority of RTT patients carry a single mutation in the gene MeCP2; however recent advances in genetic engineering may allow MeCP2 mutations to be corrected in patientsProfessor Geoffrey Faulkner has received funding to assess whether other molecular factors are involved in the RTT phenotype in patient neurons, and whether these factors are likely to be corrected by MeCP2 gene therapy.

  • Does mobile DNA activity contribute to reproductive failure?

Professor Geoffrey Faulkner will use cutting edge single-cell genomic approaches to investigate the activity of mobile DNA elements or “jumping genes” as a previously unexplored cause of reproductive failure, including spontaneous miscarriage and age-related female infertility.

  • Mechanisms by which Endothelial Selectins regulate Normal and Malignant Stem Cell fate

Associate Professor Ingrid Winkler and Professor John-Pierre Levesque have found a molecule within bone marrow which when increased during inflammation, awakens normal hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells. They’ve previously shown this molecule helps leukaemia and other cancer stem cells resist chemotherapy, and have now identified the mechanism why. These proposed studies open new therapeutic avenues to sensitise cancer stem cells to therapy, enabling long-term cure.

  • A novel protease and growth factor regulated signalling system in ovarian cancer:

This project focuses on the role in ovarian cancer of a cellular receptor called CDCP1. Professor John Hooper has previously shown that CDCP1 promotes growth and spread of ovarian tumours. Professor Hooper has generated new data indicating that CDCP1’s activity is markedly increased by other proteins called proteases and growth factors. In this project Professor Hooper will define how these new pathways function, and if their blockade impedes ovarian cancer.

Mater Research has over 300 biomedical and clinical researchers with reach across Mater Health, 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.