$21.7 million injection for the Hunter’s medical researchers

Oct 25 2013

Laureate Professor Paul Foster

Laureate Professor Paul Foster at his laboratory in the HMRI Building

University of Newcastle researchers aligned with the Hunter Medical Research Institute have been awarded $21.7 million by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), supporting 31 research projects including nine fellowships.

The funding is the highest total NHMRC funding ever awarded to Newcastle, and its highest percentage of successful grant applications.

HMRI Director Professor Michael Nilsson said the achievement was testament to the long-standing support offered to medical researchers by HMRI through its community donors and the partnership with the University of Newcastle and Hunter New England Health.

“This outstanding achievement is the result of having the right people in the right environment,” Professor Nilsson said. “It is in line with the long-term planning of HMRI and very pleasing that our translational focus is mirrored in the results.

“I would like to congratulate all those researchers who were successful with their grant applications.”

Acting University of Newcastle Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Nick Talley, said researchers were focused on delivering world-class research.

“Newcastle is home to health and medical researchers who are global leaders in their field. These funding results speak to the enormous talent and energy that position the University of Newcastle and the Hunter as a centre of excellence for research that delivers terrific health and medical outcomes for our community,” he said

The NHMRC funding includes:

$2.2 million for a collaborative project between the Professor John Forbes and Associate Professor Prudence Francis, to test a new treatment for breast cancer that involves combining chemotherapy with oestrogen-lowering treatment before surgery with the aim of shrinking the cancer to improve surgery options.

$2 million in three grants to the head of HMRI’s VIVA program, Laureate Professor Paul Foster, and his team to understand the causes, and reduce the impact, of respiratory infections and inflammatory airways diseases, allergies and severe and childhood asthma.

$1.8 million to the 2012 HMRI Researcher of the Year, Professor John Attia, and his team to set up a novel multi-centre trial to investigate the effects of pneumococcal vaccination in reducing heart attacks and stroke.

$1.7 million to Dr Vanessa Murphy and her team at the HMRI Building to test whether an asthma management strategy, which determines treatment changes based on a marker of airway inflammation, improves outcomes for maternal, neonatal and child health.

$1.5 million to HMRI Public Health program leader Professor Rob-Sanson-Fisher to assess factors that affect outcomes for people seeking treatment for alcohol dependence.

$1.2 million to Professor Phil Hansbro from HMRI’s VIVA program, to explore whether using modified gut microbes assists in controlling lung inflammation in people with emphysema, a condition for which there are currently no treatments.