NHMRC funding to support chronic disease prevention

May 21 2020


(Pictured - Associate Professor Kelvin Kong)

Seven HMRI affiliated researchers from the University of Newcastle and Hunter New England Health have been successful in attracting over $12 million in competitive funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council.

Three NHMRC Investigator grants, two NHMRC partnership grants and three Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) investigator grants will help Hunter researchers address areas of chronic disease prevention and improve health outcomes for our communities.

The successful NHMRC Investigator Grant recipients are:

  • $2,738,220 over five years awarded to Associate Professor Luke Wolfenden to identify effective chronic disease implementations promoting health behaviours such as physical activity, healthy diet and smoking cessation to be delivered on large scale in real-world contexts.
  • $2,090,576 over five years awarded to Professor Frances Kay-Lambkin to provide new and better understanding of how, when, and what to use when treating mental disorders. The work will leverage the transformative potential of technology to rapidly and significantly improve treatment access.
  • $1,123,450 over five years awarded to Associate Professor Kelvin Kong to explore a telehealth ear, nose and throat (ENT) model, based in metropolitan, rural and regional Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, enabling improvement in Aboriginal children’s access to specialist ENT care and a reduction in the waiting time for treatment during the vital years of early childhood ear and hearing health. The Indigenous-led telehealth research will create an efficient, culturally appropriate hearing health care model for all Indigenous Australians.

Two NHMRC Partnership Projects have been awarded to:

  • $734,163 to Professor John Wiggers for a practice change intervention to increase the routine provision of care addressing gestational weight gain: a stepped-wedge trial.
  • $1,054,151 to Dr Nicole Nathan for a randomised trial of an intervention to sustain schools’ implementation of a state-wide physical activity policy.

The successful MRFF Investigator Grant recipients are:

  • • $1,562,250 awarded to Dr Rachel Sutherland to identify effective school-based chronic disease prevention interventions suitable for scale-up to inform Australian government action and prevent the onset of chronic disease at a young age.
  • • $1,562,250 awarded to Dr Nicole Nathan to investigate key impediments to sustainable chronic disease prevention programs in the community and identify effective strategies for sustaining diet, physical activity and obesity prevention initiatives in schools.
  • • $1,562,250 awarded to Dr Vanessa Murphy to further her contributions to asthma care and work towards personalised management of asthma during pregnancy to be incorporated into antenatal care guidelines and implemented into clinical practice at a local, national and international level.

HMRI Institute Director Professor Tom Walley was delighted to see the range of research awarded funding. “Each of these research projects addresses important health issues of concern to our community, and will address early intervention and technological delivery of health interventions,” Professor Walley said.

“I’d like to congratulate each of the successful recipients and their research teams.”

The funding was announced by Health Minister Greg Hunt MP on Wednesday May 20, 2020.