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Funding success to address chronic disease

Aug 16 2018

Associate Professor Luke Wolfenden

Researchers from the University of Newcastle have received more than $5.8 million in funding from the National Health and Medical Council (NHMRC), in addition to the $1.4 million for male and female health strategies announced earlier this week.

The funding includes almost $2.5 million for a new Centre for Research Excellence (CRE), the University’s fourth CRE in as many years, to help community services deliver chronic disease prevention programs.

The NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Implementation for Community Chronic Disease Prevention will be led by the University’s Associate Professor Luke Wolfenden, a leading behavioural scientist with the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) and Hunter New England Health (HNELHD).

The Centre will fast-track the adoption of chronic disease prevention interventions by utilising a globally unique ‘implementation laboratory’ established in the Hunter New England Population Health Service in partnership with the University of Newcastle. The CRE’s additional partner organisations include the University of Sydney, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Monash University, Central Queensland University and Neuroscience Research Australia.

The most recent NHMRC funding outcomes also include:

  • $437,036 Career Development Fellowship for Dr Gerard Kaiko to investigate the role of novel cell types and metabolites in the pathogenesis of asthma. Severe forms of asthma that respond poorly to therapy with corticosteroids lead to frequent hospitalisation and decline in lung function. Dr Kaiko will build on preliminary research to understand how a new type of airway epithelial cell and a novel metabolite regulate inflammation and disease and can be therapeutically targeted to reduce the severity of asthma.
  • $417,192 Early Career Fellowship for Dr Caitlin Gillis in conjunction with Ghent University in Belgium to develop new therapeutic strategies for chronic respiratory disease. The controlled death and replacement of cells in our bodies is critical for healthy physiology, development and resolving of inflammation. This research aims to develop drugs that enhance dead cell clearance and offer and new therapeutic approach for chronic inflammatory lung diseases of emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma.
  • $327,192 Early Career Fellowship for Rebecca Hodder from Hunter New England Health to improve the translation of school-based interventions targeting health risk behaviours for chronic disease. Tobacco and alcohol use, inactivity, diet and obesity are the main modifiable health risks for chronic disease in Australia. This research aims to generate evidence regarding the benefits, harms, costs and effective methods to implement these programs at scale, which is essential for policy makers to prioritise and improve the routine implementation of school-based chronic disease prevention interventions.
  • $585,270 Practitioner Fellowship for Conjoint Professor Peter Gibson from Hunter New England Health to address asthma prevalence in childhood by targeting asthma therapy in pregnancy. Professor Gibson’s existing interventions for the management of asthma in pregnancy will be adapted for implementation in the antenatal clinic setting. New targeted therapies in severe asthma will be assessed and their optimum use defined.
  • $792,275 Research Fellowship for Professor Geoffrey Isbister to improve health outcomes for global incidences of envenoming and poisoning, focusing on snake/spider envenoming and drug overdose. This research aims to quantify the effects of poisons and toxins in patients to improve risk assessment and better guide early life-saving treatments, and exclude significant effects in minor cases. It will improve health outcomes in Australia and globally, increasing the availability, benefits and safety of treatments such as antivenom and antidotes.
  • $724,175 Research Fellowship for Professor David Lubans to optimise the adoption and implementation of evidence-based physical activity interventions in schools. Over the next five years, the research aims to implement, evaluate and disseminate effective physical activity interventions in primary and secondary school settings. It will also generate new knowledge regarding the effects of physical activity on academic outcomes.

Gerard Kaiko, Caitlin Gillis, Rebecca Hodder, Peter Gibson, Geoff Isbister and David Lubans














* HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.