Hunter researchers affiliated with HMRI have been awarded a further $10.8 million from the National Health and Medical Research Council, comprising 14 projects grants and a career development fellowship.
The funding covers a diverse array of health and medical projects including stroke, asthma, mental health and cancer treatment, many of which have been supported by HMRI donor funding in pilot stages.
Professor Phil Hansbro will examine: “Elucidating the roles and mechanisms of activation of NLRP3 inflammasomes and developing therapeutic interventions for severe steroid-resistant asthma”. Severe steroid-resistant asthma is a major clinical issue. This projects aims to explore how the disease develops in order to develop a new therapeutic inhibitor.
Public health researcher Associate Professor Luke Wolfenden received an NHMRC Career Development Fellowship and will also lead an intervention to improve healthy food purchases from primary school canteens. It will use online canteen ordering systems to implement healthy consumer behaviour via placement, prompts and feedback.
Associate Professor Chris Dayas and Professor Brett Graham will work with researchers from UNSW and Hotchkiss Brain Institute, Canada, to explore hypothalamic control of motivated behaviour. Circuits in the brain’s hypothalamus are highly plastic and sensitive to experience, making them vulnerable to corruption by drugs, fatty foods and stress. These changes may lead to debilitating conditions such as addiction and obesity.
Professor Billie Bonevski is leading a team studying “Healthy living after stroke: An online intervention for improving stroke survivor health behaviours and quality of life.” People who have had a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) are at high risk of further strokes – this project addresses the behaviour modification advice and support people need to avoid recurrent stroke.
Associate Professor Mariko Carey heads a national team focused on improving outcomes for people with depression in community settings. With GPs playing an important role in the detection and management of depression, this project will examine the effectiveness of an intervention designed to improve patient-centred care.
Professor David Lubans and his team will explore a school-based intervention called Burn 2 Learn, designed to increase vigorous physical activity among older adolescents. It aims to demonstrate the benefits of a scalable version of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) for students’ physical, psychological and cognitive health.
Associate Professor Simon Keely will lead a team exploring “Epithelial metabolism as a mediator of host-microbiome interactions in inflammatory bowel disease”. The project will investigate how altered metabolism during intestinal inflammation contributes to chronic intestinal diseases such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).
Professor Paulette van Vliet is exploring arm function after stroke using task specific training. This project will trial task-specific, home-based training for stroke survivors for arm recovery and function with the aim of dramatically improving limb function.
Laureate Professor Roger Smith AM leads a project titled: “Understanding the myometrial transition at term and preterm labour to guide tocolysis.” Preterm birth is responsible for 75 per cent of neonatal mortality and substantial disability. Over the next three years the group will test how multiple pathways interact in the uterus, hoping to block the effect.
Dr Flora Tzelepis will test the effectiveness of electronic feedback, online and telephone support on multiple health risk behaviours among TAFE students. Tobacco use, risky alcohol consumption, inadequate fruit and vegetable intake and physical inactivity are all modifiable risk factors of chronic disease.
Finally, Professor Peter Greer aims to improve patient safety in radiation therapy with a ‘Watchdog’ real-time treatment delivery verification system. Radiation therapy is recommended for around half of new cancer cases but the technology is so complex that errors occur. This study aims to develop a system that verifies a patient is receiving the correct dose during treatment.