Ageing Research to Receive $22 Million Boost

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Summary media release information

17 October 2005
Ministerial Media Release
Contact for further information: 
Murray Hansen, Minister Bishop's office on 0417 886 155 Anna Manzoney, NHMRC Communications on 0422 008 512

Research into how changes to the brain can impact on our ageing population, the side effects of medication and the benefits of Tai Chi for older Australians are among 37 ageing-related grants to receive a $22 million funding boost from the Australian Government.

Minister for Health and Ageing Tony Abbott last week announced more than $290 million in funding for National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) grants.

The Federal Minister for Ageing, Julie Bishop today welcomed the funding, saying that the ageing of the population presents both challenges and opportunities for Australia 's health system.

"Through this government's funding of health and medical research and, in particular, ageing-related research, we are continuing our efforts to address a number of issues such as the increase in the immobility of older Australians," Ms Bishop said.

"Dr Lesley Day from Monash University in Victoria , together with researchers from Queensland and Western Australia , will investigate whether Tai Chi can slow or even prevent the onset of disability.

"This research may significantly improve quality of life for older Australians and reduce the demand for support services.

"Professor D'Arcy Holman at the University of Western Australia will tackle the current epidemic of hospitalisation of Australians older than 65 years due to side effects of their medications. The results of this study will better inform doctors, pharmacists and consumers of the potential side effects in older Australians of a variety of medications.

"At the University of Tasmania , Dr Velandai Srikanth will examine the role of age-related brain changes in causing problems with walking, balance and cognitive abilities.

"Dr Srikanth's research will provide a better understanding of how changes to the brain can affect our ageing population. Treatment can then be identified that could prevent falls and dementia," said Ms Bishop.

In 2004 the Australian Government, through the National Health and Medical Research Council, allocated almost $110 million, or 32 per cent of the NHMRC's total expenditure, on research in the priority area of Healthy Ageing.

Earlier this year, the Minister announced that the Australian Government would provide a further $10 million through the Ageing Well, Ageing Productively research program, a National Research Priority of the Australian Government.

Further information: Murray Hansen, Minister Bishop's office on 0417 886 155

Anna Manzoney, NHMRC Communications on 0422 008 512

Successful Ageing-Related NHMRC Grants


Prof Philip Board, Australian National University - $480,000
Prof Board and his team will investigate enzymes known as glutathione transferases. These enzymes can effect the age at which onset of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease occurs.


Prof Des Richardson, University of New South Wales - $462,750
This study will seek to develop new therapies that may stop cancers from spreading. These therapies aim to help reduce the amount of iron in the cancer cells, with iron being essential in the spread of cancer.

A/Pr Stephen Lord, University of New South Wales - $349,375
This study will investigate the fear of falling among older Australians and the impact this has on quality of life. Understanding why older people develop a fear of falling will help lead to preventive strategies.

A/Pr Nicholas Hawkins, University of New South Wales - $240,250
Genetic changes in cells will be investigated that may show that not all bowel cancers are the same and may respond differently treatment.

Prof Markus Seibel, University of Sydney - $455,250
'Cortisone' has been of great benefit to countless patients, but may also cause osteoporosis, muscle wasting and skin damage. Researchers aim to find ways to target the drug to the desired tissues and cells, while protecting others from the side effects.

Prof Michael Murray, University of Sydney - $447,750
The beneficial effects of omega-3 fatty acids will be investigated to design new therapies to benefit individuals with arthritis, heart and other conditions.

Dr Marlene Fransen, University of Sydney - $1,189,185
Researchers will look at the benefits to older people with osteoarthritis taking glucosamine sulphate as a dietary supplement.

Prof Philip Sambrook, University of Sydney - $820,300
Falls and fractures are a major problem in the elderly. The FREEDOM study will investigate the benefits of sunlight and calcium supplements to older people living in residential care.

Dr Louise Ada, University of Sydney - $335,125
Researchers will investigate the benefits of treadmill training for rehabilitation following stroke. Researchers believe this will significantly improve mobility and quality of walking and lead to a reduction in the length of hospital stays.

Dr Lindy Clemson, University of Sydney - $641,100
The aim of this project is to improve the capacity of people living at home to avoid falls. The effectiveness of a balance and strength exercise program will be evaluated in reducing falls in those at high risk.


Dr George Mellick, University of Queensland - $750,750
Parkinson's disease is a progressive disabling movement disorder affecting many older Australians. Researchers aim to learn more about the inherited and environmental factors that contribute to the disease which may lead to better treatments.


Prof Robert Vink, University of Adelaide - $311,250
Following a stroke, damage to the brain can occur for hours or even days due to the swelling in the brain. This study will look at new treatments that can be administered shortly after a stroke to limit the swelling and subsequent damage caused.

A/Pr Nick Fazzalari, University of Adelaide - $438,125
This study aims to give researchers a better understanding of the mechanisms by which bones are less likely to fracture which will enable better targeting of osteoporosis drug therapy to individuals at risk of fragility fracture.


Dr Velandai Srikanth, University of Tasmania - $518,400
Dr Srikanth will examine the role of age-related brain changes in causing problems with walking, balance and cognitive abilities.


A/Pr Denise Jackson, Austin Research Institute - $511,500
Blood clotting can lead to a blockage of the arteries and cause thrombotic diseases such as heart attack and stroke. Researchers will investigate how blood cells stick together resulting in blood clotting. This work will help understand this process and potentially lead to new preventive therapies.

Dr Josephine Forbes, Baker Heart Research Institute - $328,125
Excess sugar in the blood from diabetes is detrimental and can accelerate a process where the sugar attaches to proteins, fats and DNA. Research into this process may help stop the progression of kidney disease in diabetes.

Prof David Kaye, Baker Heart Research Institute - $466,500
This research will focus on the lining layer of blood vessels and the role it plays in the control of vessel function. This may provide a basis for identifying new ways to prevent and treat cardiovascular disease.

Dr Assam El-Osta, Baker Heart Research Institute - $465,000
This grant will study the role of DNA and DNA-bound proteins in controlling changes to genes in the heart. Heart disorders such an enlarged heart, or abnormal beating of the heart can cause the genes in the heart to change. Understanding how DNA and proteins interact with genes in the heart is likely to be a significant step in developing treatments for these disorders.

Prof Claude Bernard, La Trobe University - $292,500
Multiple Sclerosis can cause irreversible damage to the Central Nervous System resulting in permanent disability. Prof Bernard will investigate factors that prevent repair to the Central Nervous System which may ultimately lead to the first ever therapy for permanently disabled patients.

Dr Lesley Day, Monash University - $869,450
Dr Day and her team will investigate whether Tai Chi can slow or even prevent the onset of disability.

Dr Grant Drummond, Monash University - $392,625
Dr Drummond will research the role of toxins called "free radicals" in increased blood pressure leading to cardiovascular disease, heart attack and stroke. This research may lead to new therapies to prevent high blood pressure and subsequent diseases.

A/Pr Jun-Ping Liu, Monash University - $429,750
The lifespan of cells will be the focus of this research which will provide an important baseline for further applied research in controlling ageing and cancer development.

A/Pr Flavia Cicuttini, Monash University - $464,000
Researchers will investigate the effectiveness of weight loss programs at reducing the risk of knee osteoarthritis when combined with programs to improve muscle strength and alignment.

Prof John Bateman, Murdoch Children's Research Institute - $448,500
For the first time, studies undertaken by researchers will allow identification of the complex changes that occur in early osteoarthritis. This may allow new ways to diagnose and treat OA.

Dr Keith Hill, National Ageing Research Institute - $539,700
This research will evaluate whether a detailed assessment and program of falls prevention activities will reduce falls in stroke patients with an increased risk of falling. Researchers expect a 33% reduction in falls, improved balance and confidence for people returning home after stroke.

Dr Helen Dewey, National Stroke Research Institute - $2,820,228
Researchers will conduct a trial to determine the cost and benefits of preliminary evidence that patients who move about within 24 hours of a stroke have a much improved outcome.

Dr Genevieve Evin, University of Melbourne - $516,000
Researchers will investigate a small protein that is believed to be the primary cause of Alzheimer's disease with the aim of identifying new treatments for the disease.

Dr Amanda Fosang, University of Melbourne - $518,700

Differences in the timing of onset, rate of progression and severity of joint disease will be investigated. Researchers believe the results will reveal what therapies are required for the management of arthritis.

Dr Bang Bui, University of Melbourne - $292,625

The aim of this project is to improve understanding of the role that increased eye pressure plays in the development of glaucoma-related nerve death and associated vision loss.

Dr Richard Osborne, University of Melbourne - $340,500

A large controlled trial will be undertaken to determine the benefits of a course developed in the United States to help people self manage their arthritis.

Prof Ian Wicks, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute - $341,125

Professor Wicks will study the role of proteins released by cartilage cells in joints in the development of arthritis.


Prof Graeme Hankey, University of Western Australia - $1,445,813
Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) is the major cause of stroke and heart attacks. The VITATOPS Study aims to determine whether multivitamin therapy prevents recurrent stroke and heart attacks in patients who have suffered a recent stroke.

Prof C. D'Arcy Holman, University of Western Australia - $1,012,100
This project will investigate how best to use the efforts of GPs to obtain better outcomes in patients over 65 years who have diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure, asthma and emphysema, seizures and stomach disorders.

Prof C. D'Arcy Holman, University of Western Australia - $601,700
Prof Holman and his team will tackle the current epidemic of hospitalisation of Australians over 65 years due to side effects of their medications.

A/Pr Paul Norman, University of Western Australia - $395,800
Researchers aim to improve their understanding of healthy ageing in older men, particularly those with heart attacks or stroke, dementia or heart failure and depression and isolation.

Prof Osvaldo Almeida, University of Western Australia - $595,875
This research aims to clarify the long-term impact of congestive heart failure on brain function and structure. Researchers expect that their findings will improve understanding of associated disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease.

Prof Matthew Knuiman, University of Western Australia - $231,225
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a leading cause of disability and death in those aged over 65 years. This study will lead to a better understanding of existing and new CVD risk factors in older persons and determine which preventive actions to implement.

Total funding $21,758,951