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CEO Communique – February 2022
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).
From 2022, researchers applying for National Health and Medical Research (NHMRC) funding through its track record based schemes will be asked to list up to 10 of their top publications in the past 10 years (accounting for career disruptions).
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.
The 2020 NHMRC Research Excellence Awards and 2021 NHMRC Biennial Awards were announced on 16 June 2021. Below is an extract of CEO Professor Anne Kelso's opening remarks before announcing the awards.
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 National Health and Medical Research Council's (NHMRC) Alcohol Working Group, which is charged with reviewing the guidelines to reduce the health risks from drinking alcohol.
Support for excellent health and medical research in Australia continues in the 2021-22 Budget handed down on 11 May 2021.
The average adult takes up to 20 breaths every minute, something most people give little thought. However, breathing can be a daily struggle for people with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), an umbrella term for a group of lung conditions that includes emphysema, chronic bronchitis and chronic asthma.
Over the last 10 years NHMRC has invested more than $191 million in research on malaria1
Professor Rachelle Buchbinder is a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Senior Principal Research Fellow. She is the Director and Professor in the Monash University Department of Epidemiology & Preventive Medicine since 2007. Professor Rachelle Buchbinder's clinical practice is in conjunction with research involving multidisciplinary projects relating to arthritis and musculoskeletal condition.
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. His research on neurodegenerative diseases focuses on understanding the basis of Parkinson’s Disease. Watch his story in the video below.
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. After working as a doctor for some time, Professor Dawson wanted to know why some patients responded better to treatment than others.
CEO Communique, February 2021
Adding new cells to the mature central nervous system – Investigating their normal function and potential for repair
For people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), the myelin that covers nerve fibres in the central nervous system (brain, optic nerves and spinal cord) is damaged, leading to impairment of cognitive, motor and sometimes sensory functions.
Early in 2020, the University of Melbourne’s Bio21 team was working on protein modelling to better understand antimicrobial resistance for improved drug development. In March they turned their attention to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which had already undergone many mutations. In September, the team’s work was published in Nature Genetics.
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 National Health and Medical Research Council (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.
The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) remains committed to supporting dementia research in Australia following the end of the Australian Government's Boosting Dementia Research Initiative (BDRI).
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.
NHMRC has changed the timing of the 2021 Investigator Grant and Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies schemes. NHMRC has also changed its Relative to Opportunity policy to accommodate the impacts of COVID-19 on research.
Professor Louisa Jorm is the Foundation Director of the Centre for Big Data Research in Health at UNSW Sydney.
Professor Carola Vinuesa is a Professor of Immunology at the Australian National University and Head of the Pathogens and Immunity Department. She discusses Cellular Immunology and how blue sky research impacts human health.
NHMRC caught up with Professor Andrew Lloyd from The University of New South Wales who develops vaccines for Hepatitis C, which effects 750,000 Australians. Find out how his research is not only helping treat Hepatitis C but working on prevention strategies.
Developing better understanding of effective therapeutic practices with Aboriginal clients, in Aboriginal community settings, and with Aboriginal practitioners, across the spectrum of mental health and social and emotional wellbeing outcomes is the goal of Dr Graham Gee.
Professor David Grayden is in the department of biomedical engineering at the University of Melbourne. He has undertaken successful innovation and a commercialisation journey, providing practical insights into how he navigates through this research pathway.
Prof Si Ming Man from The Australian National University and his team investigates the role of innate immunity in infectious diseases and cancer. Professor Man received the NHMRC Research Excellence Award for the highest-ranked Early Career Fellowship (2015) and an NHMRC Research Excellence Award for the highest-ranked Career Development Fellowship Biomedical Level l1 (2019). He also received the 2019 Commonwealth Health Minister's Medal for Excellence in Health and Medical Research and the 2021 CSL Centenary Fellowship.
Professor Joanne Reed from the Garvan Institute's research focuses on autoimmune diseases, particularly the origin and role of autoantibodies."It's really promising research and NHMRC has been able to fund this. This is something that's capable of having a big impact". Watch her story in the video below.