National research grant awarded for stroke research

Mar 8 2016

Professors Chris Levi and Mark Parsons will share in a major stroke grant

A prestigious National Health and Medical Research Centre (NHMRC) Program Grant has been awarded to two John Hunter Hospital neurologists to support stroke research.

In collaboration with colleagues in Melbourne, the grant will provide $13.7 million of support over five years to Professor Mark Parsons and Professor Chris Levi’s project Saving Brain and Changing Practice in Stroke.

Professor Chris Levi said the project aimed to directly change clinical practice relating to brain tissue rescue.

“While each of our research team members has different focus areas, Professor Parsons will look at identifying new therapies for stroke using advanced imaging to better identify treatment responders and my research will look into implementation of these new therapies to deliver treatment more effectively to patients,” Professor Levi said.

“Our colleagues in Melbourne will look at how stroke patients can be better assessed and provided with treatments before they arrive in hospital and also look at early detection methods for stroke using blood markers.”

The team’s clinical research work will be based in the Hunter New England Health region but will include a range of collaborators across Australia throughout the project.

“While this research program won’t begin until 2017, Professor Parsons and I are already undertaking a platform of work that will lead into the program,” Professor Levi added.

“This includes testing a new clot-busting medication in patients with severe stroke and looking at how we can further improve delivery of standard clot busting treatment to stroke patients across Australia.

“We hope to be able to implement this research for better patient outcomes across the Hunter New England Local Health District and Australia wide.”

“In Australia, there are 50,000 acute strokes each year, with over 1000 of these strokes in the Hunter region. Stroke is the leading cause of long term adult disability and the second leading cause of death nationally and in our region.”

“Currently, 50 percent of acute stroke patient survivors have long term disability. The strategies being researched could lead to a major reduction in disability for acute stroke patients, plus as many as 50 percent of the major acute stroke suffered being totally cured using the new approaches for treatment.”

HMRI Director Professor Michael Nilsson said the funding was testament to the cutting-edge research and collaborations being undertaken by the University of Newcastle and Hunter New England Local Health District stroke team.

“I applaud the achievements of Chris and Mark and in particular their translational focus, which is a cornerstone of HMRI and University of Newcastle Priority Research Centre for Stroke and Brain Injury,” Professor Nilsson said.

“This is a substantial grant that provides a degree of financial certainty while they undertake their important work. Ultimately it will be stroke patients and the community who benefit from improved therapies and healthcare delivery.”