Research Excellence: Understanding membrane protein structures

Dr Alastair Stewart, Head of the Institute’s Structural Biology Laboratory at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute (VCRI) focuses his research on understanding the mechanisms of how cells transport drug molecules using cyro-electron microscopy technology. Based within VCRI’s Innovation Centre, Dr Stewart’s research involves generating detailed information on the function of membrane protein structures, providing a template to better understand drug interactions within the body. Read on to find out more about Dr Stewart’s research, in his own words.

  • InFocus
  • Thursday
Professor Davis at NHMRC’s Research Excellence Awards

Research Excellence: trialling women's testosterone therapy

Professor Susan Davis AO, Head of the Monash University Women’s Health Research Program, focuses her research on understanding the role of sex hormones, particularly testosterone, in women’s health. Her program of research involves a series of innovative, complementary clinical trials to determine if the hormone can serve as a new therapy to protect against leading causes of ill health in postmenopausal women. Read on to find out more about Professor Davis’s research, in her own words.

  • InFocus
  • 30 August 2023

Research Excellence: predicting gastric cancer

Dr Doug Tjandra is an advanced trainee in gastroenterology at The Royal Melbourne Hospital with an interest in preventing gastrointestinal cancers and immunotherapy-related complications of the gastrointestinal tract and liver.

  • InFocus
  • 11 August 2023
Professor Jose Polo

Research excellence: understanding the first few weeks of pregnancy

Professor Jose Polo’s work in epigenetics spans diverse fields, including cellular reprogramming, embryogenesis, neurobiology, immunology and cancer. His Synergy Grant brings together a multidisciplinary team who will combine the latest advances in models of early development, genetics and molecular biology to determine how the early placenta produced by the embryo burrows into the uterus and keeps developing during the entire pregnancy.

  • InFocus
  • 20 July 2023
Man in suit with an award, smiling.

Research Excellence: rapidly detecting emerging viruses

It is challenging to contemplate, but the world can expect to experience pandemics like COVID-19, and perhaps even larger in scale, in the future. Professor Eddie Holmes is developing a pandemic radar to rapidly detect emerging viruses and determine which are most likely to have pandemic potential. His research focuses on understanding the fundamental mechanisms of virus ecology and evolution, as well as how viruses jump species boundaries to emerge and cause disease in new hosts.

  • InFocus
  • 14 July 2023
Reverend McGovern

Excellence in ethics and integrity

Reverend Kevin McGovern, recipient of the 2023 NHMRC Ethics and Integrity Award, is one of Australia’s leading ethicists, active in education, research and policy for over 25 years. Throughout his professional life as a parish priest, academic and community leader, Reverend McGovern has brought to innumerable discussions and debates the highest quality and intensity of consideration. His reputation for the courage of his convictions and his openness and respect for others with a diversity of views is unparalleled.

  • InFocus
  • 29 June 2023

Excellence in consumer engagement: optimising the lives of people with aphasia

The Queensland Aphasia Research Centre (QARC) brings together people with aphasia, their families and friends, clinicians and researchers in the collaborative development of innovative and novel health interventions that transform lives. At NHMRC's Research Excellence Awards in March, QARC received the 2023 NHMRC Consumer Engagement Award, which recognises an individual, a group of individuals or an organisation that has made a long-term contribution to consumer and community involvement in health and medical research.

  • InFocus
  • 1 June 2023
Professor Greg Fox

Research Excellence: A vision for the elimination of tuberculosis

Professor Greg Fox is a respiratory doctor and clinical triallist at the University of Sydney and Director of the Sydney Vietnam Institute who is contributing to the momentum towards tuberculosis (TB) elimination. Professor Fox received the 2021 NHMRC David Cooper Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies Award, recognising the highest ranked recipient in the Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies scheme.

  • InFocus
  • 19 May 2023

Research excellence: Transforming midwifery in the Asia-Pacific region

Professor Caroline Homer AO is a midwife and maternal and newborn health researcher. Her research addresses maternal and newborn health issues, especially the role of midwives in improving outcomes in limited-resource settings, with a focus for more than 20 years on the Asia-Pacific region.

  • InFocus
  • 5 May 2023
Professor Wai-Hong Tham

Research Excellence: New antibody therapies against malaria and COVID-19

Professor Wai-Hong Tham was one of four distinguished female researchers to receive 2022 NHMRC Elizabeth Blackburn Investigator Grant Awards. Her award was for the highest ranked female recipient (Leadership category) in the Basic Science research area of the Investigator Grants scheme. Professor Tham is Head of the division of Infectious Diseases and Immune Defence at WEHI and co-Chair of the WEHI Biologics Initiative. 

  • InFocus
  • 24 April 2023
Dr Tafi Marukutira

Research Excellence: Identifying gaps and solutions needed for HIV elimination

Dr Tafi Marukutira is a medical doctor and public health researcher, specialising in infectious diseases epidemiology. Dr Marukutira received the 2022 NHMRC Frank Fenner Investigator Grant Award (Emerging Leadership), which recognises the highest ranked recipient in the Emerging Leadership Level 1 Investigator Grant category within the Basic Science or Public Health research areas, for his work on equitable access to HIV care and treatment.  

  • InFocus
  • 6 April 2023
22 people smiling in a group standing outside

Communities driving health care research

“It’s about coming with an open mind and heart, and willingness to deeply listen to community… to have any preconceptions challenged and re-learn ways of doing research.” 
– Dr Veronica Matthews , co-lead investigator, STRengthening systems for InDigenous healthcare Equity (STRIDE)

  • InFocus
  • 14 March 2023

Research Excellence: Modernising cardiac rehabilitation

Professor Julie Redfern is a clinician-researcher and Research Academic Director (Researcher Development, Output and Impact) in the Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Sydney and a practicing physiotherapist. She received the 2021 Elizabeth Blackburn Investigator Grant Award - Health Services (Leadership) for her work transforming post-discharge care for people with heart disease and modernising the delivery of cardiac rehabilitation.

  • InFocus
  • 23 August 2022
Person in hospital uniform and gloves standing next to a hospital bed

Research Excellence: Infection prevention - doing research that matters

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.

  • InFocus
  • 27 July 2022
Rob Parton wearing a lab coat  facing the camera

Lipid droplets and our defensive arsenal - killing the bacteria to prevent infection

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.

  • InFocus
  • 7 June 2022
head shot of Melissa Little

A paradigm shift in kidney research

Surprisingly, understanding of organ assembly is extremely limited. Professor Melissa Little and team received an Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) grant and established the most comprehensive quantitative image-based analysis of any organ ever described. The challenges of bringing together researchers from different fields is one of vocabulary, but the benefit is considerable.

  • InFocus
  • 7 June 2022
Kirill Alexandrov in a lab coat facing the camera

Towards cyborg biology - electrochemical biosensors of everything

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.

  • InFocus
  • 7 June 2022
man facing the camera with trees and buildings behind

Forging a farsighted agenda with a novel global way of thinking about science

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.

  • InFocus
  • 7 June 2022
portrait photo of person facing the camera

Making a decision to do the hard research, that’s what discovery is about

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". 

  • InFocus
  • 31 May 2022

Research excellence: Build grit and set out a plan

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.

  • InFocus
  • 27 May 2022

Internship brings entirely new set of skills

Sharna Motlap has always been interested in creating and implementing evidence-based programs specifically tailored to Indigenous communities. 

  • InFocus
  • 12 May 2022

To solve the healthcare gaps, we need Indigenous problem solvers

Sara Lai found her first Indigenous intern experience with NHMRC in 2017-18 so rewarding that she applied again for the 2021-22 program.

  • InFocus
  • 12 May 2022
Person holding glass award with two people standing next to him, facing camera

Research Excellence: Answering one of the most important questions in gastrointestinal oncology

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.

  • InFocus
  • 12 May 2022
Three people talking, women in a red dress at centre

Research Excellence: Advancing precision nutrition to improve health and wellbeing

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.

  • InFocus
  • 3 May 2022
woman behind a lectern

Research excellence: Sharing data and ideas for the largest impact for patients with ovarian cancer

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.

  • InFocus
  • 20 April 2022

Research Excellence: Transforming the prevention and treatment of child and adolescent obesity

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. 

  • InFocus
  • 12 April 2022

Regional research collaborations fighting dengue fever

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.

  • InFocus
  • 8 April 2022

A passion project to make the heart sing: Urban planning for healthier lives

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. 

  • InFocus
  • 7 April 2022

HEAL national research network addressing the health effects of environmental change

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.

  • InFocus
  • 7 April 2022

Research Excellence: Developing biological mosquito control tools to prevent vector-borne disease

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.

  • InFocus
  • 6 April 2022

Research Excellence: Making the impossible possible - engineering transplantable kidney tissue

Professor Melissa Little leads the Kidney Regeneration Laboratory at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute where she holds an NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellowship and CEO of the Novo Nordisk Foundation Centre for Stem Cell Medicine (reNEW). She received the 2021 Marshall and Warren Ideas Grant Award for her work generating kidney organoids from human pluripotent stem cells and developing novel engineering approaches to integrate transplanted tissue to the host kidney. 

  • InFocus
  • 29 March 2022

Speech is a uniquely human skill many take for granted

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).

  • InFocus
  • 31 January 2022

To improve child health, focus on conception

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.

  • InFocus
  • 9 December 2021

How Anne McKenzie went from ‘just a mum from Morley’ to consumer engagement champion

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.

  • InFocus
  • 26 November 2021

Developing innovative vaccines to tackle influenza B virus

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. 

  • InFocus
  • 22 November 2021

Developing innovative interventions to eliminate parasitic worm infestations

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).

  • InFocus
  • 8 November 2021

Patient collaborators in groundbreaking brain cancer research

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.

  • InFocus
  • 22 October 2021
three people in lab coats, one looking at a microscope and two looking at a screen

Science to art: Research behind the science behind the image

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.

  • InFocus
  • 13 October 2021

Game-changer for cancer research and therapeutic development

2021 ANSTO Eureka Prize for Innovative Use of Technology

  • InFocus
  • 11 October 2021

Research on a potential biomarker for fatal influenza

Developing an early warning system to predict fatal respiratory viral infection outcomes.

  • InFocus
  • 7 October 2021

Crossing disciplines to answer complex research questions

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.

  • InFocus
  • 6 September 2021

New research on boosting killer immune response to cancer

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. 

  • InFocus
  • 23 August 2021

Working beyond our own borders for a better world

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.  

  • InFocus
  • 18 August 2021

Australian research delivers rapid Hep B test for earlier treatment

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.

  • InFocus
  • 26 July 2021

Getting to the cause of type 2 diabetes

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.

  • InFocus
  • 8 July 2021

Driven to improve mental health and intergenerational trauma through research

Having experienced two Indigenous internships with NHMRC, Vernon Armstrong has now started his journey in mental health research.

  • InFocus
  • 2 July 2021

Diamond-enriched silk dressings the answer to next-generation smart wound treatment

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.

  • InFocus
  • 17 June 2021

Addressing Australia’s national transfusion research priorities

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.

  • InFocus
  • 15 June 2021

Indigenous female researcher inspires next generation

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.

  • InFocus
  • 27 May 2021
Professor John Bekkers

Unlocking the secrets of the brain

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. 

  • Video
  • 24 May 2021