26 September 2023

NHMRC welcomes the Australian Government’s announcement of outcomes from the 2023 Centres of Research Excellence (CRE) scheme.

Fourteen new Centres of Research Excellence will be funded with a total investment of $35 million, bringing together some of Australia’s best health and medical researchers in collaborations to explore and develop new solutions to significant health problems.

NHMRC CEO Professor Steve Wesselingh says the 14 Centres of Research Excellence announced today focus on health issues of profound significance for patients and communities.

'NHMRC’s Centres of Research Excellence are an important part of the health and medical research system in Australia. They bring together outstanding researchers who work collaboratively to find innovative and practical solutions for better health', said Professor Wesselingh.

Each Centre of Research Excellence announced today will receive $2.5 million over five years, one of which will aim to develop new knowledge leading to better treatment for anxiety-related disorders associated with mental health.

Mental health is a key component of overall health and wellbeing for all Australians.

Aiming to develop new knowledge and advanced treatments for anxiety-related disorders associated with mental health, the University of Melbourne will be home to the Centre of Boosting Exposure Therapy Through Enhanced Research (BETTER).

The BETTER CRE will bring together leading researchers across the sector to drive innovative research and improved treatments to better mental health outcomes for all Australians.

Anxiety-related disorders are associated with significant impairment, high comorbidity with depression, substance abuse and suicidality, and can last for decades if not effectively treated.

Professor Felmingham and team at the University of Melbourne will aim to develop a collaborative framework to transform fear extinction and exposure therapy research nationally. This research will ultimately lead to the development of innovative treatments and better capacity to tailor specific treatments to patient needs.

Professor Felmingham says the gold standard treatment for anxiety related disorders is exposure therapy, however nearly 50% of patients do not respond (to current methods).

'Advances in exposure therapy have stalled due to poor integration of basic science, neuroimaging and clinical research,'

The BETTER CRE will incorporate skills and expertise across basic science research, neuroimaging and clinical science to address this gap, ultimately leading to major advances in clinical knowledge.

'It is critical that we develop ways to optimise exposure therapy for anxiety-related disorders via treatment innovations that target key mechanisms underlying their development and maintenance', said Professor Felmingham.

Patients who have completed the exposure therapy have said that the therapy treatments have been life changing.

'It has given my life back,

'I am now able to confront things I never thought I could, exposure therapy has given me the tools to cope, and I now don’t have any symptoms', said one patient.

NHMRC’s Centres of Research Excellence funding scheme supports clinical, health services and public health research that aims to improve health outcomes for Australians and promote the translation of research outcomes into policy and/or practice.

Centres of Research Excellence announced today are:

Chief Investigator ATitleAdministering InstitutionBudget
Associate Professor Alice RumboldOptimising human milk nutrition to improve the long-term health of preterm infantsUniversity of Adelaide$2,500,000
Professor Franz BablCentre of Research Excellence in Paediatric Emergency MedicineMurdoch Children’s Research Institute$2,500,000
Professor Jonathan ClarkThe Centre of Research Excellence for Applied Innovations in Oral CancerUniversity of Sydney$2,500,000
Professor Peter FullerPrimary Aldosteronism Centre of Excellence (PACE): optimising the diagnosis and management of a common, curable but neglected cause of hypertensionMonash University$2,500,000
Professor Jill NewbyCORE-DEP: Centre of Research Excellence in Depression Treatment PrecisionUniversity of New South Wales$2,500,000
Professor Kim FelminghamBoosting Exposure Therapy Through Enhanced ResearchUniversity of Melbourne$2,500,000
Professor Caroline HomerARPAN - Accelerating Research and Progress in maternal And Newborn health: A Centre for Research Excellence to improve maternal and newborn health in the post-COVID-19 pandemic eraBurnet Institute$2,500,000
Professor Danielle MazzaSPHERE - The Centre of Research Excellence in Women's Sexual and Reproductive Health in Primary CareMonash University$2,500,000
Professor Valsamma EapenCentre of Research Excellence in supporting child and family health for priority populations: Addressing inequity and supporting positive life trajectories through strengths-based tiered access and resources (STAR-CRE)  University of New South Wales$2,500,000
Professor Erica WoodOPTIMAL: OPTimising Immunoglobulin Management in AustraliaMonash University  $2,500,000
Professor Freya FowkesMASTER-MAP: Modern Acceleration STrategies for ERadication of Malaria in the Asia-PacificBurnet Institute  $2,500,000
Associate Professor Adrian CameronCentre of Research Excellence in Food Retail EnvironmentS for Health: Next Generation (RE-FRESHING)Deakin University$2,500,000
Professor Virginia WisemanStronger Investments for Infectious Diseases (STRIDE)University of New South Wales$2,500,000
Doctor Shuai LiCentre of Research Excellence and Expertise in Genetic Epidemiology for Precision Population HealthUniversity of Melbourne  $2,500,000


Find the full list of funded projects in the spreadsheet download on Outcomes of funding rounds.