NHMRC funding boost for ANU medical research

5 December 2016

The NHMRC funding is a great outcome for ANU and will help support our researchers as they try to solve some of the major problems and health issues facing Australia and the world.

Researchers from the ANU have received more than $16 million in the latest funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), including major funding for projects to improve health of Indigenous Australians.

The NHMRC funding includes more than $15.6 million for ANU-led Project Grants and $850,000 in Career Development Awards.

ANU researchers are also heavily involved in another $5 million in grants for projects led by other institutions.

ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt said the NHMRC funding supported the University's commitment to outstanding research in health and medical sciences.

"The NHMRC funding is a great outcome for ANU and will help support our researchers as they try to solve some of the major problems and health issues facing Australia and the world," Professor Schmidt said.

Among those receiving funding is a $1.9 million project led by Dr Raymond Lovett from the ANU Research School of Population Health (RSPH). His project aims to better understand how cultural factors affect health outcomes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

"The project involves a series of surveys that will allow us to quantify the relationships between cultural factors like Indigenous language use, connection to country, and strength of identity with health outcomes," said Dr Lovett from the ANU College of Medicine, Biology and Environment.

The project aims to reframe the discourse around the effect that culture has on Indigenous health.

"At the moment the dominating view is that connection to culture diminishes health outcomes, but those of us who live and breathe it know that the opposite is true," he said.

"We would not have been able to run this project without the NHMRC funding. It is really crucial because it provides the funding for the initial baseline survey and the follow up survey."

Other major projects to win funding include a $2.8 million project by Professor Emily Banks at RSPH, to find ways to improve the health of Aboriginal children and adolescents living in urban areas.

"This new funding will allow the Study of Environment on Aboriginal Resilience and Child Health (SEARCH) to continue to follow the 1600 children in the Study into adolescence and early adulthood as well as develop new programs to tackle major health issues such as chronic disease, asthma and mental illness," Professor Banks said.

The NHMRC also funded a $1.3 million project led by Professor Carola Vinuesa at the John Curtin School of Medical Research (JCSMR), to help understand the role of genes in autoimmune diseases.

ANU-led Project Grants recipients are:

Professor Thomas Preiss, JCSMR ($880,494) - Cardiac health and disease

Professor Narcissus Teoh, ANU Medical School ($615,966) - Liver cancer prevention and treatment

Dr Raymond Lovett, RSPH ($1,915,801) - Indigenous health and culture

Associate Professor Ehsan Arabzadeh, JCSMR ($527,395) - The mammalian brain

Professor Philip Board, JCSMR ($694,470) - Sepsis

Professor Emily Banks, RSPH ($2,877,466) - Urban Aboriginal children and adolescent health

Professor Carola Vinuesa, JCSMR ($1,316,838) - Autoimmune diseases

Professor Greg Stuart, JCSMR ($612,272) - Calcium levels and brain function

Associate Professor Marco Casarotto, JCSMR ($914,869) - Calcium levels and skeletal muscle function

Associate Professor Ruth Arkell, JCSMR ($992,822) - Asymmetry in the body

Professor David Tscharke, JCSMR ($980,762) - Cold sores and herpes virus

Dr Rowena Martin, RSB ($567,273) - Drug resistance

Dr Riccardo Natoli, JCSMR/ANU Medical School ($349,076) - Inflammatory diseases

Professor John Bekkers, JCSMR ($461,556) - Brain plasticity

Professor Christopher Nolan, ANU Medical School ($834,596) - Diabetes prevention

Professor Geoffrey Farrell, ANU Medical School ($572,857) - Dissolving liver scarring

Associate Professor Kevin Saliba, ANU Medical School/RSB ($556,114) - Antimalarial medications

Career Development Awards funding

Dr Alison Calear, College of Medicine, Biology and Environment ($425,048)

Dr Naomi Priest, College of Arts and Social Sciences ($425,048)