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Research projects attract $17.8 million funding boost

Oct 20 2014

Professor Mark Parson

University of Newcastle/HMRI researchers have welcomed more than $17.8 million from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) in its 2014 funding round, as announced by Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

The success rate exceeded the national average in the competitive grants process, with 17 projects receiving funding.

More than $3.9 million went to an HMRI-funded drug trial that has yielded rapid treatment benefits for stroke victims. Led by Professor Mark Parsons from Hunter New England Health and the University of Newcastle, the TASTE study explores the effectiveness of clot-busting drug Tenecteplase, which is commonly used for heart attacks, over the standard stroke treatment Alteplase.

Professor Parsons said the grant would dramatically bolster the research team’s investigations.

“It’s the most important stroke trial in the last 20 years and this NHMRC funding will allow us to roll out the study across Australia and internationally,”

Professor Parsons said. “The outcome of our trial will be monumental and has the capacity to change clinical practice substantially.”

UoN Vice-Chancellor Professor Caroline McMillen said the significant support from NHMRC was testament to the University’s reputation for conducting world-class research.

“The University of Newcastle boasts some of the most accomplished, innovative and internationally-renowned minds in health and medicine,” Professor McMillen said.

“Our academics continue to deliver exceptional research outcomes that benefit not only the Hunter community but also create an impact both nationally, and on a global scale. This tremendous display of support by the National Health and Medical Research Council will allow our academics to continue to lead the way in their respective fields.”

HMRI Director Professor Michael Nilsson said researchers from the University and Hunter New England Health were to be congratulated for an outstanding achievement.

“It is very pleasing that our translational focus is again reflected in the results and a wonderful reward for HMRI supporters who have seed-funded many of the successful projects,” Professor Nilsson said.

“It highlights the strong national standing of our leading programs in many areas of excellence and expertise.”
The NHMRC funding also includes:

  • $2.5 million to Conjoint Professor Peter Gibson for the establishment of a National Clinical Centre for Research Excellence in Severe Asthma; $1.1 million to Associate Professor Jonathan Hirst to examine whether perinatal stress leads to neurosteroid deficits and adverse behavioural outcomes; and
  • $1 million to Professor Joerg Mattes to assess the effect of asthma control during pregnancy on markers of airways inflammation and lung function in offspring.

Professor Nilsson also enjoyed NHMRC funding success in a collaborative bid with the University of Melbourne/Florey Institute for Centre of Research Excellence (CRE) status in stroke rehabilitation.

Having secured $2.5 million over five years, Professor Nilsson will serve as co-leader, along with Conjoint Associate Professor Michael Pollack and Professor Frini Karayanidis as Associate Investigators and Professors Chris Levi, Mark Parsons and Paulette van Vliet as Chief Investigators.

“It illustrates the power of the network linkages that HMRI has forged with other leading national research institutes, complementing the strength and leadership shown along the whole trajectory of stroke care,” Professor Nilsson added.

“Along with Professor Peter Gibson group receiving similar CRE reward for severe asthma, as mentioned, it is excellent news for HMRI.”