Professor Brett Mitchell is the first nurse to receive the Commonwealth Health Minister's Award for Excellence in Health and Medical Research. He is s a Professor Health Services Research and Nursing at Avondale University and also received the 2021 Peter Doherty Investigator Grant Award (Emerging Leadership) for his work providing evidence for practical measures to reduce common infections, as well as improving cleaning in healthcare.
There is a long running interest in the idea of machine-organism hybrids, although the integration of electronic and biological systems remains underdeveloped. Professor Kirill Alexandrov and his collaborators received Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) funding to explore the 'undoable'. Multidisciplinary teams are a must and spur new creative projects.
Lipid droplets are exploited by pathogens that invade cells and then use the cellular lipid droplets as a source of fats. Professor Rob Parton and his team received a Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) grant to explore the possibility that lipid droplets might also be a crucial form of defence against pathogens. International collaborative networks have allowed access to techniques and expertise. They have also facilitated mentoring and collaboration for students and early career researchers.
The Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) was established in 1990 to promote international collaboration in basic research focused on the elucidation of the sophisticated and complex mechanisms of living organisms. Since then, 1180 research grants have been awarded to more than 7500 researchers representing 71 nationalities, including Australia.
HFSP Secretary-General Professor Pavel Kabat introduces the program and three prominent researchers tell us how their HFSP grants advanced their research.
Deciding to commit to a research life is brave – so is committing to do the hard research. Professor Cath Chamberlain says with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, in particular, "we are going to need to take some more risks to do things differently".
Doctor Simon Graham is an epidemiologist in the Department of Infectious Diseases at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, University of Melbourne. He received the 2021 Sandra Eades Investigator Grant Award (Emerging Leadership) for his research which aims to increase opportunistic sexually transmitted infections (STI) testing to identify asymptomatic infections early so treatment is provided to prevent poor health outcomes.
Sharna Motlap has always been interested in creating and implementing evidence-based programs specifically tailored to Indigenous communities.
Sara Lai found her first Indigenous intern experience with NHMRC in 2017-18 so rewarding that she applied again for the 2021-22 program.
Professor Trevor Leong is a Consultant Radiation Oncologist and past Director of Radiation Oncology at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and University of Melbourne. He received the David Cooper Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies Award for his work leading a randomised phase II/III trial of preoperative chemoradiotherapy versus preoperative chemotherapy for resectable gastric cancer.
Laureate Professor Clare Collins is an Accredited Practising Dietitian and nutrition researcher specialising in eHealth at the University of Newcastle (UON). She received the 2021 Elizabeth Blackburn Investigator Grant Award - Clinical Medicine and Science (Leadership) for her work on nutrition technologies and methods to support personalised medical nutrition therapy, including dietary biomarkers and telehealth models of care.
Professor Susan Ramus is Professor of Molecular Oncology in the School of Clinical Medicine at the University of New South Wales. She received the 2021 Elizabeth Blackburn Investigator Grants Award - Basic Science (Leadership) for her work improving the prognosis of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
Professor Louise Baur holds the Chair of Child & Adolescent Health at the University of Sydney and is a consultant paediatrician at the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network. She received the 2021 NHMRC Elizabeth Blackburn Investigator Award – Public Health (Leadership) for her work leading an interdisciplinary program of research in preventing obesity in childhood and providing safe, effective treatments to children and adolescents living with obesity.
The spread of Japanese encephalitis virus in south eastern Australia is a reminder that mosquito-borne viruses pose an ongoing threat to lives and livelihoods, particularly in our region. That includes dengue fever spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Australian researchers are collaborating closely with colleagues on two fronts – to eradicate the virus and find biomarkers that will lead to better diagnosis and treatment.
Professor Billie Giles-Corti was a “lone wolf”, she says, when she started her research career. In 2022, the time has come for public discourse about the direct links between city planning and health. She is part of a global network making the connections between liveability and health outcomes.
The Healthy Environments and Lives National Research Network (HEAL) was announced at the end of 2021 with a grant of $10 million over five years, as an NHMRC Special Initiative to provide national and international leadership in environmental change and health research. HEAL formally starts in May 2022; a lot of groundwork has been done to create the foundations for a large and diverse collaboration to deliver its ambitious work plan over the next five years and beyond.
Associate Professor Nigel Beebe works in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Queensland with a joint appointment at CSIRO. He received the Marshall and Warren Ideas Grant Award (Innovation) for his work on the role of mosquitos in vector-borne disease, answering fundamental questions about which species transmit pathogens, where they exist and why – and developing a species-specific biocontrol for Australia and beyond.
Professor Angela Morgan is head of speech and language at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and Professor of Speech Pathology at the University of Melbourne and was the recipient of the 2020 NHMRC Elizabeth Blackburn Investigator Grant Award (Leadership in Clinical Medicine and Science).
Professor Sarah Robertson from The University of Adelaide is recipient of an NHMRC Investigator Award and was awarded the Elizabeth Blackburn Investigator Grant Award (Leadership in Basic Science) at the 2020 NHMRC Research Excellence Awards.
Pioneering health consumer advocate Anne McKenzie AM has been awarded NHMRC’s Consumer Engagement Award in recognition of an almost 30-year career during which she has helped thousands of Australian clinicians and researchers understand the value of listening to consumers.
Dr Marios Koutsakos is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, University of Melbourne. He works on the development of a universal influenza B vaccine and on understanding the fundamental biology of immune responses to vaccination. Dr Koutsakos received the 2020 NHMRC Frank Fenner Investigator Grant Award.
Professor Don McManus is senior scientist at QIMR Berghofer and an internationally acclaimed parasitologist. This year, he was awarded the 2020 NHMRC Peter Doherty Investigator Grant Award (Leadership).
Patients are collaborators along with structural biologists, immunologists and neurosurgeons in the groundbreaking brain cancer research being conducted by the tight, multidisciplinary team being led by WEHI’s Associate Professor Misty Jenkins.
Professor Frédéric (Fred) Hollande is Deputy Head at the Department of Clinical Pathology, University of Melbourne, and a group leader at the University of Melbourne Centre for Cancer Research. He’s also behind the image recognised in the Science to Art NHMRC Biennial Award.
2021 ANSTO Eureka Prize for Innovative Use of Technology
Developing an early warning system to predict fatal respiratory viral infection outcomes.
University of Adelaide's Professor Ian Olver received the 2021 NHMRC Ethics Award in recognition of his significant contribution to Australian health and medical research ethics over the last decade. As chair of NHMRC’s Australian Health Ethics Committee, and as a valued member of NHMRC Council from 2012 to 2018, his balanced and considered leadership style and willingness to engage sensitively on tough issues supported a wider understanding of the ethical impact of emerging health and medical research innovations and technologies.
Drugs already approved and available could be the answer to boost the production of killer T cells and improve the success rate of immunotherapies for cancer.
Associate Professor Joshua Vogel is a Principal Research Fellow at the Burnet Institute in Melbourne, where he co-heads the Global Women’s and Newborn’s Health Group. His research focuses on addressing maternal and perinatal health issues affecting women and families in limited-resource settings. Associate Professor Vogel was the winner of the 2020 Peter Doherty Investigator Grant Award, and the Commonwealth Health Minister’s Award for Excellence in Health and Medical Research.
Hepatitis B is an infectious disease that causes the liver to become inflamed and contributes to increasing rates of liver cancer in Australia and globally.
The daily burden of living with diabetes can be significant. It’s estimated that people with diabetes face up to 180 diabetes-related decisions every day. That’s more than 65,000 extra decisions a year. These decisions can range from managing daily blood sugar levels, food intake and exercise to the management of serious diabetes complications.
Having experienced two Indigenous internships with NHMRC, Vernon Armstrong has now started his journey in mental health research.
A diamond-enriched smart dressing made of silk that enables doctors to read the chemistry of an infected or healing wound could be the answer to more effective therapies, particularly for burns.
Professor Erica Wood is head of the Transfusion Unit at Monash University. Her research describes how blood is used in Australia, and how its use can be improved and made safer and more cost-effective. Through registry data and clinical trials, and studies of novel blood products, Professor Wood and her team aim to improve access and transfusion outcomes for patients.
As one of NHMRC’s first Indigenous Interns, Nada Powell is about to embark on her next journey which is likely to now include research.
Professor John Bekkers from the John Curtin School of Medical Research and his team are currently working on the neurons and circuits in the brain that underlie the sense of smell. His team focus on the olfactory cortex, a brain region that is responsible for our ability to recognise and remember odours.
Professor Kate Conigrave from The University of Sydney is an Addiction Medicine Specialist and Public Health Physician based at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. Her work combines treating individuals with alcohol, drug and tobacco problems; promoting the health of communities and research and teaching. She is currently the chair of the NHMRC's Alcohol Working Group, which is charged with reviewing the guidelines to reduce the health risks from drinking alcohol.
Professor Rachelle Buchbinder is an NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow. She is the Director and Professor in the Monash University Department of Epidemiology & Preventive Medicine since 2007.
Dr Jeanette Tamplin from The University of Melbourne is using therapeutic singing groups to support people living with dementia.
Associate Professor Antony Cooper from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research is a cell and molecular biologist / geneticist with strong interests in elucidating how cellular dysfunction results in human diseases, with a specific interest in neurodegenerative disease such as Parkinson’s Disease.
Professor Mark Dawson is a clinician-scientist at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, meaning he both treats blood cancer patients and leads cutting-edge cancer research in the lab.
Professor Jo Salmon from the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN), Deakin University received the Elizabeth Blackburn Investigator Grant Award at last year’s NHMRC Research Excellence Awards. Her research focuses on how to effectively implement physical activity interventions at scale across the population, particularly in children. Physical inactivity is a leading modifiable risk factor for childhood obesity and other physical and mental health conditions.
The formation of abnormal proteins in the brain has long been suspected to contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases. Yet many individuals with abnormal protein formations do not go on to develop such diseases.
Professor Mark Willcox from the University of New South Wales received the Marshall and Warren Ideas Grant Award at this year’s NHMRC Research Excellence Awards. Professor Willcox’s research targets hospital-acquired infections. Half of all hospital-acquired infections are from microbial colonisation of medical devices such as catheters and hip replacements. Professor Willcox and his team are developing new antimicrobial coatings that can be applied to medical devices to reduce the incidence of these infections.
APPRISE is the Australian Partnership for Preparedness Research on Infectious Disease Emergencies. It was established in 2016 with an investment of $5 million funded by NHMRC and an additional $2 million in 2020 to undertake a range of studies to inform the public health and clinical responses to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Over the past 20 years, NHMRC has invested more than $23 million in 37 projects on pandemic preparedness.
Professor Sandra Eades from Curtin University has dedicated her career to research in Aboriginal health improvements. Professor Eades works with NHMRC to advise and develop strategic guidelines focused on closing the gap.
Associate Professor James St John from Griffith University received the Marshall and Warren Innovation Award at the 2020 NHMRC Research Excellence Awards. His research involves the development of cell transplantation therapies to repair the nervous system, particularly peripheral nerve and spinal cord injuries.
Associate Professor Jaqui Hughes from the Menzies School of Health Research received the 2019 NHMRC Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies Award at NHMRC’s Research Excellence Awards ceremony in March 2020. Kidney disease is a significant health priority among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The cohort study being led by A/Professor Hughes will describe the long-term changes in kidney function over 10 years. This will provide critical data to inform regional and national policy on identification and care of people with kidney disease.
Professor Glenda Halliday from the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Medicine and Health and the Brain and Mind Centre received NHMRC’s Elizabeth Blackburn Investigator Grant Award at this year’s NHMRC Research Excellence Awards. Her research aims to identify and understand the pathobiology of non-Alzheimer dementias and degenerative motor syndromes. These syndromes are currently under-recognised, mainly affect people in their prime, can kill rapidly, and have no mechanistic therapies.
Professor Louisa Jorm is the Foundation Director of the Centre for Big Data Research in Health at UNSW Sydney.