26 March 2021

Research to develop an intelligent total body scanner capable of taking images of skin lesions in minutes for early detection of melanoma is one of five projects funded through a joint National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and European Union (EU) collaborative research grant scheme announced today.

The Australian Government is investing more than $2.4 million to support Australian participation in five collaborative health and medical research projects with EU institutions.

The NHMRC–EU Collaborative Research Grant Scheme supports participation through the EU’s leading research and innovation program, Horizon 2020.

This is the last round under Horizon 2020, which will be succeeded by Horizon Europe from 2021-2027. The Horizon program aims to boost scientific leadership, address societal challenges and expand international cooperation.

Schemes such as Horizon 2020 promote the kind of collaboration and networks that have been critical to the health and medical research response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through the scheme, each project can receive up to $500,000 over five years from NHMRC for the Australian research component. This round includes research projects to:

  • develop machine learning techniques to understand the symptoms and comorbidities of the estimated one billion people who suffer from sleep apnoea
  • design and implement a digital tool integrating community care services for the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes and hypertension
  • develop an intelligent total body scanner capable of taking images of all skin lesions in approximately 6 minutes for early detection of melanoma
  • improve the management of patients with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders (ADHD) and co-occurring cardiometabolic disease such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease
  • evaluate whether and how nature-based social prescribing, such as exercise outdoors, can address mental well-being.

The grants recommended for funding in this scheme will support the Australian component of research partnerships with Spain, Sweden, Greece, Iceland, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Norway, Finland and Italy.

Project details are: 

National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)–European Union (EU) Collaborative Research Grant Scheme
Chief Investigator A Application Title Administering Institution Budget
Professor Juha Toyras Revolution of sleep diagnostics and personalized health care based on digital diagnostics and therapeutics with health data integration University of Queensland $499,999.75
Almost one billion people suffer from sleep apnoea. Unfortunately, the current diagnostic metric relates poorly to the symptoms and comorbidities of sleep apnoea, merely measuring the frequency of breathing cessations. We aim to develop machine learning techniques to better estimate sleep apnoea severity. These techniques will be implemented in high-end wearables developed in this project. Finally, we aim to design a digital diagnostic platform and create new standardised guidelines for sleep medicine.
Associate Professor George Moschonis DigiCare4You - An intersectoral innovative solution involving DIGItal tools, empowering families and integrating community CARE services for the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes and hypertension La Trobe University $489,307.09
This research aims to design and implement an innovative intervention that will bring together the available community-care infrastructure, human resources and services, as well as technological advancements in digital health, for the early prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes and hypertension. The active involvement of Australian researchers in this international collaboration ensures that this innovation and its benefits will be transferred to Australia in the future.
Professor H. Peter Soyer Intelligent total body scanner for early detection of melanoma University of Queensland $499,963.00
Melanoma is the 4th most common cancer in Australia; the main screening tool is a time-consuming total body examination with a hand-held dermoscope. This project aims to develop a total body scanner using fast-refocusing lenses to take total body dermoscopy images of all skin lesions in approximately 6 minutes, integrated with a computer-aided diagnostic tool providing a risk score for each lesion incorporating medical history, genotypic and phenotypic risk markers.
Associate Professor Helga Zoega ManagemenT of chronIc cardioMetabolic diseasE and treatment diScontinuity in adult ADHD PAtieNts (TIMESPAN) University of New South Wales $499,612.50
The aim of TIMESPAN is to improve the management of patients with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders (ADHD) and co-occurring cardiometabolic disease (i.e. obesity, type-2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease). Inadequate treatment of these common conditions can lead to premature death and substantial societal costs. We will use linked electronic health records and novel research methods to improve clinical outcomes and quality of life of adults with ADHD and cardiometabolic disease.
Professor Sarah Bekessy Re-imagining Environments for Connection and Engagement: Testing Actions for Social Prescribing in Natural Spaces RMIT University $499,749.50
This project will evaluate whether and how nature-based social prescribing (NBSP) can address mental well-being. We will experimentally test the effectiveness of NBSP in promoting connection among populations experiencing social isolation and loneliness with socially oriented opportunities in safe, inclusive and accessible, green and blue outdoor urban spaces. The project will build the evidence base for the value of NBSP investments in improving mental health.
Total     $2,488,631.84

Contact

NHMRC Media Team

M: 0422 008 512

E: media@nhmrc.gov.au

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